IDEO Imagines the Future of Books

When I was Director of Stanford Publishing Courses, I often tried to arrange visits to IDEO–the brilliant, Palo Alto-based design firm that was spun off from the work of Stanford professor David Kelley. IDEO uses design thinking to innovate–and is surely one of the top creative firms in the country.

Here IDEO takes on the future of books–three ideas worth a look:

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

Book Trailers vs. Audio Interviews

book trailer I’ve yet to see a book trailer that makes me want to buy a book. I know they’re all the rage right now, but because they’re made by wordsmiths and not by filmmakers, they often look embarrassingly amateurish–especially when they promote novels.

Book people need to use ideas and words–the tools they know best–to promote their books. A good author interview–which can be distributed as an audiofile or a podcast–is a better sales tool all around.

Check it out for yourself:     Book trailers vs. Author interviews

How To Become the Go-To Expert

One of the best ways to promote your nonfiction book is to position yourself as the expert in your field. How do you do that?

One simple way is through HARO — short for “Help A Reporter Out.” This ingeniously simple site connects journalists working on a story with people who can serve as experts for that story–all for free.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you’ve written a book about    indie films. If you’re a subscriber to the daily HARO newsletter, you would have recently seen this post from a reporter doing a story for a national entertainment/lifestyle magazine:

What does the term “indie” film mean? Need expert to define, explain which films meet this criteria and what the term “indie film” means today–at the box office and to studios and to creative types in the industry.

You respond via an anonymous email address directly to that reporter. If your credentials are good and your ideas solid, you might get a follow-up interview. Ideally, you become the expert quoted in the article. Nice!

Seth Godin abandons traditional book publishers

Seth GodinSerious authors often squirm when they have to reveal that they’re self-publishing their books. That’s because self-publishing is often confused with vanity publishing, that backwater of the publishing industry where snake-oil salesmen still flourish.

But now Seth Godin has given the field of self-publishing a shot of adrenalin. In mediabistro today, he claims he’ll be self-publishing from now on. The way he sees it, today’s publishing industry is too cumbersome and, well, archaic:

“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.”

Here’s the complete interview.

New Media Tracker

Book being paged throughWhen we look back at this time in history, we will surely mark it as the beginning of the Creator Economy.

This decade–this year–will mark the point at which media tools become robust enough in the hands of writers, video producers, film makers, photographers and other artists to shift the power from publisher to creator.

An author no longer needs the structure of the publishing industry to get his work noticed. He can create his book with online tools and use print-on-demand services to produce a small number of copies, mitigating the risk of financial failure. She can market his book through the 24/7 storefront that is a Website and distribute it through Amazon.    And he can gather a significant audience for his ideas via powerful social networks such as Facebook or Twitter or Ning or Zazzle or LinkedIn or Plaxo.

The only thing she cannot do is edit her own work, and for that there will spring up a phalanx of freelance editors to help her see what she cannot see himself.

How will traditional publishers fare in this new economy? Not well. Change is the only way forward.