The Future Of Publishing: What Really Matters

Radio Litopia has a TERRIFIC audio interview with my friend, Seth Godin, on the future of publishing,  and how his latest enterprise, The Domino Project, is attempting to embrace it.

Seth’s take on the future of publishing is similar to what I’ve been saying for a while: “The book doesn’t matter. The conversation matters.”

A book, as an object, has no inherent, objective power. Which is why it’s so hard to predict bestsellers, why you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The REAL power of a book comes from lots of people reading it and, MORE importantly, people talking about it.

Or as Mark Earls would say, what makes any object REALLY  interesting (in this case, a book) is how it changes the human interaction around it, not the actual object itself.

Again, “The book doesn’t matter. The conversation matters.”

But this has always been the case.

A famous author has always been a global microbrand. A publisher’s power has always been in its ability to provide a platform for the author, not in its ability to chop down trees and create printed paper products.

And an author’s power has always been in her ability to affect human interaction through her writings, not in some magical, superhuman quality.

And of course, all the Internet has done is make these truths even more self-evident than they already were.

“The book doesn’t matter. The conversation matters.” That, my friends, is the future of publishing. The actual media- be it Kindle, iPad, hardpack, paperback, whatever- is irrelevant.

And if your publisher doesn’t really get that, then find another one. Seriously.

PS: Seth mentions me about eight minutes into it as a case study of what he’s talking about (Thanks, Seth!).

[Check out my two books here etc.]

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

Seth Godin
Best Selling Author

His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

The New Republic
Lydia Depillis

Last year my State of the College address was 76 slides loaded with data. This year it was 14 cartoons that were substantially more memorable.

Len Schlesinger
Former President, Babson College

"There are only two daily newsletters that I look forward to opening and reading every time they show up to my inbox: Seth Godin's and gapingvoid."

Tony Hsieh
CEO, Zappos

In moments of indecision I glance at the wall [to Hugh's work] for guidance.

Brian Clark
  • Seth Godin
  • The New Republic
  • Len Schlesinger
  • Tony Hsieh
  • Brian Clark