Idea: Books: The Surprising Media Revolution Right in Front of You
If your company hasn’t published a book yet, chances are, it’s in your future—and probably, your near future. To understand tomorrow’s book publishing, merely take a look at its history. For example, new efforts by Amazon (Kindle Unlimited), Oyster and Scribd to create a subscription-model “Netflix for books” is a throwback to Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia subscription library of the mid-18th century.
There’s also historic precedent in branded books being used by savvy corporate marketers to support sales efforts or even extend legacy brands into new publishing-based revenue opportunities. Starting in 1904, the door-to-door distribution of free Jell-O cookbooks was instrumental in that product’s initial awareness and growth. And in the mid-20th century, General Mills’ extension of the Betty Crocker brand into cookbooks started off as a marketing effort, then became the foundation for a wide array of books and related products, services and events.
Tech industry companies discovered decades ago the importance of publishing or licensing books to accompany the introduction of each new product line. Even the “For Dummies” brand has long provided marketers the chance to create a custom “Your Product for Dummies” book to distribute to their customers.
To the historic notion that the book format can be used as a valued tool for customers, add the present convergence of technology tools and trends that are making it possible to create and distribute books at low cost.
In the past 15 years, nearly everything (other than format) about books has changed—from how they’re created to how they’re stored, fulfilled, distributed and used. The Kindle Store, iBooks and Google Play have created a new distribution paradigm for paid, subscription and free books. Companies like Adobe and Ingram have created a technology backbone for a wide array of design tools, workflow and services that support the creation and fulfillment (both physical and digital) of books that you can buy online or in a bookstore.
Some of those books will describe how to use your products. And chances are, for the first time in history, they’ll be published by you and go directly to your customers. It’s a change in book publishing as revolutionary as the Gutenberg Press.
Photo: Strahov Library in Prague by James Whitesmith via Flickr, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The Idea Email is distributed free, once every two weeks, by Hammock, the customer media and content marketing company. Please share this with friends and colleagues who can subscribe here. We respect your privacy, and each mailing includes a one-click unsubscribe link. We typically feature one or more companies and organizations in each Idea Email. If any company we mention has a relationship to Hammock (as a current or former client, for example), we will include a disclosure.