When a twelve-time New York Bestselling author quits traditional publishing it’s big news. And Seth Godin has just announced that he is out.
“I’ve decided not to publish any more books in the traditional way. 12 for 12 and I’m done. I like the people, but 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. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically. No, it’s not ‘better’, but it’s different. So while I’m not sure what format my writing will take, I’m not planning on it being the 1907 version of hardcover publishing any longer.”
Without question it’s an interesting trade off for Seth. His blog gets near 2 million hits a month. His twitter feed, which JUST reposts his blog has over 20,000 followers. I can say anecdotally from working at Vook that our website received more traffic when Seth blogged about Vook than when we were on the front page of the New York Times.
Meanwhile, fewer and fewer people are reading traditional books. According to the Jenkins Group:
30% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57% of new books are not read to completion.
And while this last statistic certainly doesn’t apply to Seth: 70% of books published do not earn back their advance, meaning that 70% of the books published do not make a profit.
Does this mean that books are dead? Most certainly not. Scores of people said that radio would soon disappear after the TV made its first appearance in the household. But it does mean that a new medium is going to be the medium of choice — and it is not traditional publishing.
Ultimately, Seth is trying to convey a message. And he’s found a better way to do just that.
In the end, Seth puts it best. “Thanks for reading, in whatever form you choose.”