Seth Godin's Domino Project

What is the future of books? It's a big question with big and bigger conferences and I plan to talk more about it in future posts. But this one is about Seth Godin's Domino ProjectSeth Godin said that he has given up on publishing, but looks like he is becoming a publisher himself with the Domino?

My understanding is that he is trying to get folks who already have a small audience, help them self-publish books that are shorter, and then allow small scale, personal gifting to tap into word of mouth to grow it into a big audience.

Would it work? Can we find the right balance for a book that is short enough that a lot of people would read it and long enough that people would want to pay for it? This could all be speculative because I've never met Seth Godin and don't have any private information about the Domino Project.

It isn't the first time folks try to create shorter content (the Economist sells a bunch and TED is trying to do the same with TEDBooks). What's new here is that in the ebooks world, the incremental cost of "printing" a book is essentially zero and we can let readers gift additional copies cheaply, as long as the "gifter" doesn't gift it to people who would've bought the book in the first place (i.e. you don't want to eat into your own sales). I suppose that's where the concept of tribes comes in. We need a way to differentiate the original book from the one you get as a gift. e.g. a special, collectible edition of the book for true fan and basic electronic version that you can give out for free or at a discount. It's not a leap of faith. Musicians have experience doing this already. The Grateful Death lets tapers share personal (i.e. low quality) concert recordings and so does Lady Gaga.

My minor disagreement is that I think the future is bright for traditional publishers too. If Seth's venture does well, traditional publishers can figure out which "short" book takes off and help the author expand those into a full book.

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