The Book Revolution

A recognized a strange thing this year. Three people I know in business have published books in the past 12 months. I expect this from academics and trainers, but these are CEOs. I think that this new trend developed for three reasons that have converged upon each other incidentally.

Incident Number One: Exercise is Easy.

Internet content management solutions enable non-technical people to publish to the web. The shortest form of blogging is arguably Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. Its a photo. Or its a 30 second video. Or its 140 characters of text. Its the novella in its most truncated form, the smallest of all books. Do not dismiss these books. They have changed nations. They have lifted or crushed the careers of politicians and entertainers. Some of these short posts or videos get 50 million readers.

If social media is the smallest book, the blog post or article is a little longer. They take the form of a page or two. Or, in some cases they are a paragraph. But the have the same impact. As of this morning, this blog has eclipsed 100,000 total article reads across 82 posts. WAVGroup.com averages just under 10,000 page views per day. RETechnology averages 3 million page views per month. At some point, you stop calling it blogging and begin calling it publishing. We have more readership to our sites than the local newspaper, and all of the local news stations serving a DMA of 250,000.

At the end of the day, it is reasonable to think that all of this writing is creating authors. My domain is in the social media and blogging sector. It is merely a small step to reach up to the book length of 160 pages or more. Indeed, many of our business papers or strategic planning summaries reach the 30 to 60 page length. Blogging has made me, along with millions of others, understand that writing a book is not a big stretch.

My point is that a social media post, all of the way up to a report, represents the exercise that gives writers the experience of writing and the stamina to take on a longer project like a book.

Incident Number Two: Positive Feedback and Self Promotion

If you take a gander at the best seller list for non-fiction, you will see a bunch of books that talk about how individuals have reached success or how companies have reached success. These books are super attractive to book buyers because the provide ideas or roadmaps that encourage others to find success. If you are in business management or leadership, there are always ways that you can improve your business. Just pick up a book on the topic and it will spark ideas that you can try.

When I read these books, I am unable to resist engaging the ideas in debate. I agree with this author's concept on page 23. I disagree with the conclusion on page 30, and so on. I highlight bits of the book that I agree with. I am not sure why. I guess that it is because I pass books along to others and I want to highlight something that resonated with me.

The only thing that I find somewhat distasteful about these books is that they are more about public relations than anything. From where I sit, I can see three of these titles around the room: PeopleWorks by CEO of DotLoop; Allied to Win by the CEO of Shopatron; Rediscover Catholicism by the Pope of the Catholic Church. All of these books proclaim how great their companies are by illustrating the ways they operate. Its all good stuff, but also mostly PR.

There is no doubt that writing a book is powerful in many ways. Like running a marathon, or climbing a mountain, writing a book is a lifetime landmark. It's a great accomplishment.

Incident Number Three: Its Fast and Easy!

This may be the most powerful part that triggers the book revolution. Books can be written and self published in weeks, not months or years. Write it up and ship it to the printer. There are thousands of resources that will take your Microsoft Word document and make it print ready. Half of the books you see published today have cover art that was put together by the author without the use of a designer.

The process of book publishing took lots of time and lots of money up until about 2006. Over the last decade, electronic publishing and even distribution have been so streamlined that people do not even need to touch the process. Upload your print job and it is in the truck or on Amazon by morning.

The Revolutionary Dilemma

There used to be gatekeepers. The newspaper editor or the book editor. They chose what would be published and what would not. Today, anyone with a bunch of friends using Kickstarter or the ability to write a check can self publish. It kills trees for little reason. The dilemma is knowing when to put a book on paper vs. leaving it digital. There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1 million books self published each year. The average sales per book are 250. Only one or two of the books published this year will sell over 1 million copies.

Thankfully Google has indexed every book ever written in every language, so the cataloging of all of this content is sorted out for someone to read someday.

Thankfully people are writing.

If I publish a book, it will have advertising in it. I will get companies to sponsor chapters. 

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