The Internet has not been kind to gatekeepers, middlemen, and those who depend on centralized power and control. Just ask the stockbrokers and travel agents who lived off their commissions (before eTrade and Expedia), the newspapers that monopolized classified ads (before Craigslist), the record companies who packaged CDs (before iTunes) and Hosni Mubarak who controlled communications in Egypt (before Facebook and Twitter).
Book publishers–who have historically been the only way for authors to get their words in front of readers–could be next.
In my latest column for Cisco’s website about technology, news@cisco, I look at a new, disruptive book-publishing venture called The Domino Project, launched recently by the brilliant marketer and entrepreneur, Seth Godin. Seth and his colleagues invited me to be part of a support group called the Domino Project Street Team, which is helping to spread the word about Domino and its new books.
Seth’s own book Poke the Box, an instant business bestseller, is the first one out of the Domino Project. Next month will bring be a manifesto by ex-Marine (and author of The Legend of Bagger Vance) Steven Pressfield called Do the Work. Domino plans to publish short, accessible, low-cost, easily-shared books in a variety of formats that will help people change their lives, and the world.
Quick aside: The most surprising thing I learned when reporting this story is that a 26-year-old blogger and novelist named Amanda Hocking has sold nearly 1 million books in less than a year–without the help of a publisher.
I love newspapers and magazines, the gatekeepers who have enabled me to earn a very good living since I left college many moons ago. I’m also a big-time consumers of newspapers and magazines. If I had to choose between giving up The New York Times, and giving up all the blogs I read….I’d probably give up the blogs. Fortunately, that’s not a choice any of us have to make.
Book publishers are, in my view, more like travel agents or stockbrokers than they are like newspaper owners. They’re distributors and marketers who as a rule don’t add a lot of value. I’m interested in seeing a world where books can take on many more shapes and forms (shorter, longer, e-books, audio books, PDFs) and where more authors have a chance to connect directly to readers. That’s what Seth is trying to create with The Domino Project.
Here’s how the story begins:
Seth Godin’s first book failed because of Vanna White.
My last book was crushed by George Bush and John Kerry.
The book publishing industry is stuck in a rut. It desperately needs new ideas.
That’s why Seth and I are both excited about his new venture: The Domino Project, a publishing platform that uses the power of social media to help writers spread their ideas and connect to readers.
The Domino Project’s first book is an 85-page manifesto by Godin called Poke the Box, which was published March 1. It’s about starting things, making changes and learning in today’s fast-moving economy.
You can read the rest here.
Here’s Seth on video, talking about about Poke the Box and the Domino Project.