Books used to mean something.
War & Peace.
Books used to be on a shelf. Readily available to grab them, quote them.
You could walk into the house of a stranger and determine quickly their taste and their place in the cultural universe.
When you bought a book, you bought eternity.
This content will be valid until the end of time.
“The art of loving.”
“How to win friends and influence people.”
I can grab them today, open one page and learn a lot from it.
These were books.
They can stand the test of time.
Chris Brogan is in the middle of writing a book about Google+
Google+ launched 6 weeks ago.
He wrote the book in 6 weeks.(Still working on it.)
You can buy it in November.
It’s about Google+ for business.
Don’t mind that Google+ for business hasn’t even launched yet.
I think it’s an interesting, business-savvy idea.
We all know his book will be outdated by the time it’s published.
That’s a given.
The book is just a sideshow.
The real money is in upselling.
Buyers get access to a Chris Brogan-curated site for marketing on Google+.
They can share.
They can ask Chris.
Good income by sharing valuable insights.
(This is just my assumption. Chris Brogan hasn’t announced any of this, besides the book.)
Many people don’t agree with my assessment
Rich Harris writes on his ZDNet blog:
“In all honesty I interpreted Chris’ move as an attempt at guaranteeing one’s relevance as an author in an industry that lives, breathes and thrives on the premise of breaking news. Trying to write a book about a relationship that hasn’t even happened yet (Google+ and business) is ludicrous. When the platform actually launches it’s imperative that we have at the bare minimum six months of data to work with, case studies, conferences, discussions and real world examples. Then and only then would it be possible to create a book of real substance.
Rich makes good points.
If you believe the book is the center piece.
If it is, Rich is right.
If it’s not, he didn’t see the whole picture.
Time will tell.
Still, what does this mean for the future of books?
Have books become side shows to other business ventures?
In some cases, yes.
And they should.
Some books are just fast food material.
It tastes good when it’s fresh.
But you wouldn’t touch it 20 minutes later.
The half-life of books is decreasing rapidly.
Why would you buy a book about Twitter marketing that was published in 2009?
Why would you buy a book about investing written in 2009?
Fast food books will increase in numbers over the years.
It will be a very competitive market.
I’m sure other writers are working on a Google+ book as we speak.
And nobody will care about the book in a few months.
The digitization of books made it so much easier to create fast food.
That’s not a bad thing.
It just is.
There will be fast food books. And memorable books.
The fast food book market is expanding rapidly.
There will be a race to the bottom.
The commoditization of books.
Faster, cheaper, emptier.
And there will be memorable books.
Books that stand the test of time.
War & Peace.
My prediction: In 20 years, you’ll walk into the house of a stranger and you will still be able to understand their place in the cultural universe quickly.
There will be fast food books people will consume. They’ll be hidden in a digital device.
Your social graph can see them. Nobody else.
And there will be books people want to display.
Because they define who they are.
They define their personal brand.
There will be books and books.
We just have to find a name for the fast food books.