Best-seller Seth Godin Shuns Traditional Publishing, Backed by E-Books Data

e-readers Godin

New York Times best-seller Seth Godin has had it with traditional publishing, and from now on his works will arrive digitally. More and more evidence backs up his decision: E-publishing is the future.

In a recent interview, Godin made no bones over his decision—"12 for 12 and I'm done." Godin's main gripe is that nowadays it takes a disproportionately huge effort to publish a book in the "traditional" hardback-to-paperback manner. He likes the people, but "cant abide" the time it takes to get the whole process to work: "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" and so on. He's also frustrated by the very medium of dead-tree publishing itself, since when consumers buy a book they're really paying for the author's ideas and a book is "a form that's hard to spread" and electronically he can reach "10 to 50 times as many people."

Godin's not completely convinced about how he's going to proceed with his publishing plans, but that's okay by him. We can speculate that he's going to pursue an e-publishing route, through one or several of the new systems that're available, as this is perhaps now the easiest and most accessible way to get a publication in front of the public's eyeballs (particularly if you have as big a name as he does, which is effectively its own PR engine). He could also use his reputation to push sales via a self-publishing route, also using e-reader ecosystems like Amazon's. Or he could use a more innovative, social-media-esque angle like the one that Neal Stephenson and colleagues are using for the upcoming Mongoliad electronic "book." Given that he's also credited as a "marketing expert" as well as an author, it's certainly the sort of novel enterprise that he could make work.

Godin's decision is also backed up by sales successes like Amazon's Kindle e-reader, Apple's iPad, and even reports like this one that suggest the e-book revolution is redefining the nature of reading itself, and reading e-books means readers are less isolated than if they were reading a physical book. If some other anecdotal data is anything to go by, e-books published via the Kindle ecosystem are selling like hotcakes. And though Apple's e-book efforts haven't quite achieved the same success yet, for a number of reasons (including an incomplete international roll-out of the iPad and the iBookstore) the fact that the iPad is selling by the million and transforming the tablet PC market can only be a good thing for authors like Godin, keen to adopt a wholly new style of publishing.

Image via Flickr: Joi Ito

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2 Comments

  • Sandra Martini

    I couldn't agree more with Seth -- in a lot of ways, we're an "instant gratification" world and this applies to the books we want to read in addition to everything else.

    While at the mall last week, I popped into a Borders to pick up a book. They didn't have it and I'd have to wait a week to 10 days for them to get or, as I told them, I could go home and download in under 5 minutes (which I did).

    It's not worth the time, energy and environmental effects of printing hardcopy when e-publishing is so much quicker, easier and environmentally-friendlier, especially when we can then put our energies into providing more content for our readers.

    Sandra Martini
    www.FromTheDeskOfSandraMartini...

  • Richard Geller

    Seth Godin is a savvy marketer, a clear thinker with a substantial fan base, and has come as close as anyone to defining the operating principles of successful relationship marketing online. In his case, it's hard to imagine much compelling value that traditional publishers bring to the table at this point. www.aSiteAboutSomething.com