Friday, April 17, 2009

Blogs, Books and the Irony of Short

(this was written by Seth Godin in his blog of April 17, 2009)

Blogs have eliminated the reason for most business books to exist. If you can say it in three blog posts and reach more people, then waiting a year and putting in all that effort seems sort of pointless. The chances that your effort will be rewarded with income in proportion to the time you put in are pretty low.

This has raised the bar for what it takes to write a decent business book. I really enjoyed The Peter Principle years ago, but I think we can all agree that today it would be better as a blog.

The best non-fiction books today either deliver a complex message that takes more space and attention than a short series of blog posts can deliver, or they are convenient packages to spread an idea from person to person in a more powerful way than an emailed link can. Books can take their time and build an argument, while blog posts are constantly fighting the reader's ability and desire to click away.

The irony? The market demands that you summarize your book in a blog post. We're hesitant to buy a book (which is a far better value than just about any form of media) if we don't think we're going to like it. I guess that's built in from childhood, cause you get in trouble if you don't finish a book, and who wants to finish a book they don't like?

At least once a week, someone emails me a lousy review someone did of a summary of one of my books. Not the book, but what they thought the book was about based on a blog post summary of the book.

Critics and shoppers are doing the same thing about your spa, mp3 player and insurance company. We now review the blog post version of it, not the actual experience. "I heard the service at this restaurant was lousy." How's that for condensing four years of hard work and training into a sentence?

And then we complain when the long version doesn't pack enough punch, seems too short and isn't transcendent enough for those that persevere.

This is irony (we say we want long and deep and rich but we also insist that it be condensed to a sentence) so it's not clear what you should do about it as a marketer, other than to accept that it's going on.

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