Seth Godin Gives Up On Traditional Publishing

Marketing guru Seth Godin is giving up on traditional publishing, according to a teaser to an upcoming interview. We’ll let Godin explain it himself:

“I’ve decided not to publish any more books in the traditional way. 12 for 12 and I’m done. I like the people, but I can’t abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don’t usually visit to buy something they don’t usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that’s hard to spread … I really don’t think the process is worth the effort that it now takes to make it work. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically. No, it’s not ‘better’, but it’s different. So while I’m not sure what format my writing will take, I’m not planning on it being the 1907 version of hardcover publishing any longer.”

On one hand I think this is kind of funny. Poor Seth Godin, it’s so much work to sell those books. There aren’t that many authors who have an easier time selling books than Seth Godin. He could publish a book of blank pages and it’d top the business best seller list.

On the other hand, I see where he’s coming from. One year from author’s brain to bookstore shelf would be considered lightning fast in the publishing industry. The emphasis on making a big splash can be pretty overwhelming. And if you can spread your ideas in other formats (assuming spreading your ideas is all you’re after), why not go for it?

The reality here is that Godin can do whatever he wants. He can sell hardcover 1907 books if he wants, and he could just as easily sell digital 2010 books. If speed is his concern he could write up a manuscript and have it on Kindle in mere days. He could even have a hardcopy version available on Amazon in about a week. It’s not hard (I’ve done it).

3 thoughts on “Seth Godin Gives Up On Traditional Publishing”

  1. Someone tweeted about this last week and clicked over to read the teaser. It’s interesting to think about the potential impact of technology on the future of reading and writing.

  2. I thought Seth’s whole concept originally was writing up e-books and then marketing them in creative ways, creating a sales sensation on his own, then getting scooped up by a traditional publisher afterward to sell millions more–in other words, I thought he’s always launched in a non-traditional way?

    Anyway, I totally agree with you. The traditional publishing industry is notoriously slow. In fact, a friend of mine in the auto industry went to an efficiency seminar several years ago and the example of the single most inefficient industry was publishing.

    One strength (among many), however, of going the traditional route is that my publisher, David C. Cook, did help a lot with marketing/publicity/promotions. Their marketing department could do things I couldn’t have done on my own. For example, my book (Not So Fast) is currently being displayed in an end-cap at a chain of Christian bookstores. I couldn’t have made that happen if I were self-publishing.

    It’s fascinating to watch newspapers, magazines and book publishers evolve in this high-tech world, and when influential voices like Seth Godin’s speak into it, people listen.

    Thanks for generating some discussion on it!

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