"Traditional book publishers use techniques perfected a hundred years ago to help authors reach unknown readers, using a stable technology (books) and an antique and expensive distribution system."
Obviously, a lot has changed since but, rather than embracing those changes in ways that enhance the value to both authors and readers, publishers seem intent on trying to preserve the methods they've always used. Seth continues...
"I honestly can't think of a single traditional book publisher who has led the development of a successful marketplace/marketing innovation in the last decade. The question asked by the corporate suits always seems to be, "how is this change in the marketplace going to hurt our core business?"
This fixation on preserving what we've already built is why iTunes was invented by a computer company (Apple) and not the record companies. The record companies saw the MP3 file as a threat and were too busy filing lawsuits against file-sharing seventeen-year-olds to conceive of a web-based store to sell those same files. Once the record companies defined MP3's as a threat, it became nearly impossible to see them as an opportunity.This reminded me of a post I wrote last March titled Are You A Stuntman? In it I pointed out that people hurt when they trip are those whose first inclination is to prevent their fall. Stunt men, by contrast, can fall from great heights and spring to their feet unharmed because their first inclination is to figure out how to land. In a world of ever-increasing change, stunt men have a future and preservationists do not.
Congratulations to Seth Godin for being a stuntman. Perhaps his departure from traditional publishing will help more publishers harvest the fruit of the future but also to recognize the futility of trying to preserve the past. Spread the fire. GS