August 2010 Archives

Publishing is Dead, Long Live Publishing


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I've discovered that "Something is Dead" headlines attract a lot of attention so I couldn't resist using one myself today. With Seth Godin announcing that he's going to ditch his traditional publisher (Portfolio part of Penguin), does it mean that book publishing as we know it is dead? I find this topic especially interesting as its something that I discussed at length when I spoke at the Digital Book World Conference back in January. Here's my take.

Seth Godin is among the most popular best selling marketing authors and his latest book Linchpin sold over 50,000 copies. The publisher probably played a big role in the editing and the distribution of that book. However, for future books Godin is planning to release them over the Internet in electronic book formats as well as in the form of apps, small digital files and even PDFs. What does this mean?

  1. Seth Godin knows his readers better than his publisher does. Godin has realized that he really knows his readers. He knows what they want, he knows how to reach them and he knows quite clearly what he wants to share. He has is own marketing platform via his blog and his twitter account too. He doesn't need a publisher to play that role for him. And with the Internet he can distribute his book to his readers electronically.

  2. Seth Godin believes in the power of his brand and is betting everything on it. At the most fundamental level, this is a brand play. You've got to believe in yourself and in your words if you want something to work, he'd say himself. And that's exactly what he's doing. He's putting his money where his mouth is. Will he sell as many books? Fewer? Will he reach new readers versus just his fans? Time will tell but it is an adventurous move without a doubt.

  3. Seth Godin doesn't believe his publishers provide him enough value. By saying that he's going to sell his book online and directly to his readers, Godin is basically saying that his publishers aren't providing him enough value. He appreciates the need to have a strong editor (and he's going to hire one independently) but everything else is not valuable enough for him. Publishers should be worried and so too should Barnes & Noble and Borders. If other leading authors adopted this model they'd all be in trouble. 

  4. Seth Godin knows that the book format itself is worth a second look too. There's a secret about writing books that no one likes and having just been through the process, I've witnessed it first hand. You have to fill the pages. Even if your idea and what you want to convey only needs a 100 pages, you are obligated to stretch it out into 200 or 300 pages. That's how books are made. You have to conform to those guidelines. If the book is too thin, publisher's won't be able to charge enough for it. Godin recognizes that micro-book formats as well as audio files and apps are worth exploring as mechanisms to share his ideas. That way he's not limited by the structure of the book market.

  5. Seth Godin has figured out the economics are in his favor. I'm guessing that for every book of his sold, Godin gets probably 15% in royalties. That's not bad when you're selling 50,000 books priced at $17.13. He's made $2.5 per book sold or $128,475 in total. 

    But imagine if he sold online only where he'd probably get something closer to 80% in royalties. He'd make a whopping $685,000. Imagine if he only sold half online versus through the book chains (the distribution channels that the publisher owns), he'd still make $342,600. Or if he sold just a quarter, that would be $171,300. I don't think it is hard for him to sell 12,500 books directly. He doesn't need a publisher to be better off.

Time will tell whether other leading authors adopt a similar model. For an author, nothing is better than being able to get closer to your reader. The question is whether this model will work and whether other authors have the personal brand, the distribution platform and most importantly the courage to try something like this. I'd argue that if book publishers followed the model I outlined in this deck, they'd be less worried about what's happening around them.

Digital Age 2.0 - Why does the Internet matter?


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Brief interview post speaking at the Digital Age 2.0 Conference in Sao Paulo yesterday. You can probably tell I was a little jet lagged when I was interviewed.

I also talk about the types of people I'd love to hire. Are you one of them?

Hiring for Digital & Social Media Roles


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I'm hiring for two different roles in my group at PepsiCo Beverages. If you are interested in applying, please read the job description and apply online. I'm looking to fill these positions quickly. I can promise you it will be a wild ride working with some of the most exciting brands in the world as we reinvent digital media and marketing and explore new ways of engaging with consumers online in a mass scale. My group will be driving digital strategy and executions across paid, owned and earned media so these roles will be able to do exciting things.

Here are the job descriptions -

  • The Digital Engagement Manager will act as the strategic partner to PepsiCo America Beverages (PAB) brand teams in developing new models of digital engagement, advising on best practices and managing the planning, design and development of solutions across paid, owned and earned media that help connect the Pepsi brands to its consumers. View the complete job description.

  • The Social Activation Strategy & Execution Manager will be responsible for identifying real time social learnings and leading the social media activation teams assigned to each of the Pepsi Beverages brand teams. This person will need to drive our social media strategy and execution efforts working in partnership with the brand teams and the digital engagement managers. View the complete job description.
You can apply for both these jobs online. Ping me if you have any questions. These are opportunities to be at the forefront of digital marketing working for an organization that is pushing the boundaries of digital and social media in fun and exciting ways. Please share this  with folks you know who may be strong candidates for these roles. We're looking for the very best!

Viral Media and the Bored at Work Network


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Here's Jonah's recent presentation on viral media. Definitely worth a scan. He's the founder of Buzzfeed and is someone who shares my "impression plus" philosophy. More on that in this Adweek story, "The Science of Sharing" which quotes me explaining that the future of display advertising has to do with publishers that provide not just the best ROI on impressions but the most shares too.

Jonah's concept is simple - people are bored at work and they're the ones who share. You've got to create content for them.

What Americans do online? Are you aligned?


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Very telling. Is your brand on top of this? It is no surprise everyone is panicking about social networking and online gaming but it is fascinating that online games have overtaken email as the second most heavily used sector accounting for 10% of all online time versus 8.3% for email. 

The question is are you worried about the "Other" category and do you even know what it is? What your consumers are doing with that time and whether your competitors are reaching them there? My guess is probably not.

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For a deeper analysis visit the Nielsen blog.

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