Seth Godin, the best-selling marketing author, announced on his blog earlier this week that he is parting ways with his publisher, Portfolio, and that Linchpin, his fastest selling book to date, is the last title he will publish via traditional channels.
A post from Godin’s blog states that the architecture of the publishing industry is broken. It certainly hasn’t yet caught up with the lightening speed of the Web– it can take 12 months or more to get a book into reader’s hands. And with the advent of social media, authors are no longer dependent on publishers and traditional bookstores to help them engage with their audience. If you’ve ever read Godin’s blog you know the amount of material he can spew out in a matter of hours, so I’m not completely surprised that he’s exploring direct- to-consumer publishing channels.
As you might suspect, this move has ignited conversations in book publishing circles and begs the question: Will other high-profile authors follow Godin? According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, it’s uncertain. Jeffrey Trachtenberg’s article explains the larger impact of Godin’s departure on the industry, “With many new titles spending less time on best-seller lists and in bookstores, publishers are increasingly dependent on brand-name authors such as Mr. Godin to deliver significant book sales. “
Even if other well-known authors jump ship, I think publishers will evolve their business models and ultimately survive. The industry is already increasing its number of e-books and there are many apps underway that will enhance traditional publishers’ delivery methods.
Maybe the silver lining in all of this is for inspiring authors. Will publishers will be more inclined to work with lesser known, more middle-tier authors as a result? For authors that don’t have 70,000 fans on Facebook, the traditional publishing route is undoubtedly still the way to go.