Seth Godin on the books he’s published: “People love souvenirs… a souvenir reminds them of the idea they’ve already been sold on.” Godin drew a strong crowd to his Monday morning Tools of Change session on “new media, new marketing, and new thinking,” with a richly anecdotal tour through his publishing career (including the deluxe edition of Purple Cow sold in a milk carton).
“Blogs work,” Godin told the audience, explaining how authors can use them to drip ideas into a place where they’ll spread. That led one woman in the room to ask what publishers could do with blogs. “General interest publishers are completely irrelevant to the conversation today,” he told her; nobody cares who publishes a general nonfiction title, and chances are they aren’t going to be visiting such a publisher’s website any time soon. Speaking of which, Godin had little enthusiasm for HarperCollins‘s rollout of free ebooks: “They took all the things that work—that make it spread—and they’re turning them off.” As he pointed out, he’s not in the business of selling books; the books are the souvenirs for the ideas people pick up from his blogs and his speaking engagements. But not everyone was convinced: As the guys behind me in the lunch line commented later that morning, “he’s not in the business of selling books, but we are.”