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Big Media’s Big Nightmare

July 7, 2009

I read. A lot. Leaving me alone on Amazon is giving a 12-year old $100 and dropping him off at a baseball card store.

And since I buy a large number of books, I’ve given serious thought to buying Amazon’s Kindle. It looks perfect. It has a wide screen. The E-copy of the book costs less (9.99 versus a typical new release around 20.) It even has a “cool factor.”

But the Kindle should terrify the publishing business. (And, according to this excellent piece in Time Magazine by Lev Grossman and Andrea Sachs here, it does!)

Put quite simply, last year was the first time that more books were launched as self-published versus the traditional way. Ever.

The paradigm shift that Myspace brought to Music and Youtube brought to Video, Amazon has brought to Books.

Surely that’s not a big deal, some people are saying. Big media is needed to mass-market hit books (if there is such a thing anymore) in the same way that hit musical acts need a label.

Oh really? U2 and Madonna cut their labels, and I’m certain that Dan Brown doesn’t need the help. Almost every author with a following has a website. Just being a guest on Bill Simmon’s weekly podcast probably does more to market a book (assuming their audience likes Bill Simmons) than any publisher could do.

And that’s where “internet marketing” comes into play. Internet marketing is true, do-it-yourself marketing. It takes nothing to create a facebook/twitter/blog/website. Now I’m not saying that just because I have all four of those things means that I could launch a book. But for someone with a valuable personal brand, (say Malcolm Gladwell?) they hardly need a publisher’s help.

And think about how much money a publisher would lose if they lost a book a Blink or Angels and Demons. And how much cheaper the Kindle version of that book could be…

It’s tempting…

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