where the writers are
Seth Godin

In doing research for the post I put up yesterday on “How to Market Your Book or Watch It Die,” I came across the name Seth Godin a few times, and I’d heard of him before. He’s worth knowing.

He’s a futurist in ways that remind me of Alvin Toffler (remember 1970’s Future Shock?—we’re in that future now.) As he describes himself, Godin is “a writer, a speaker, and an agent of change.”

He’s perhaps the first person to clearly see how authors can take control of their own marketing and books and use the Internet to their advantage. He made news when he left his publisher of nearly a dozen books to sell directly to his readers. His book Unleashing the Idea Virus is purported to be the bestselling self-published book ever.

This is in part because he’s telling people that a good book is full of great ideas, and if you get some of those ideas out there, news of your book will become viral in the way YouTube videos become viral. As he said in the Wall Street Journal, “Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don't know who reads their books. What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers.”

His most recent book Poke the Box, is #508 on Amazon as I write, and #7 in motivational books. He says that book is about basically what I discovered in wanting to be published traditionally. My doing nothing beyond writing was getting me nowhere. As he says, “Poke the Box is about the spark that brings things to life. We need to be nudged away from conformity and toward ingenuity, toward answering unknown questions for ourselves. Even if we fail, as I have done many times in my life, we learn what not to do by experience and doing the new. This isn’t the same thing as taking a risk. In fact, the riskiest thing we can do right now is nothing.”

He writes a blog, and in today’s blog, he talks about libraries of the future. Presently librarians are trying to figure out how to lend eBooks. After all, an author or publisher doesn’t want to sell just one eBook to a library and then 20,000 people check it out from their computers or reading devices at home. He says, “Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever eBook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.”

He goes on to eloquently promote the library not as a warehouse of books but as the home of librarians, people who will help others be book and data saavy. He says the library could become “the vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information. There are one thousand things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.”

 Now that’s an idea worth going viral. To read his whole blog on this and learn more about him, click here.