I first started reading what Seth Godin had to say about things almost 20 years ago. I even had one of those crazy Purple Cow Milk Cartons on the top of my credenza for years. I have been following his new project since he first announced it online. So, long story short, I trust a lot of what the man has to say.
And this bit about authors and the written word hits a chord with the observable data.
Here’s an insightful, stick-with-you essay about what happens to books in a digital world.
For me, there are two key insights:
There are three stages–pre-artifact (there is no book yet), artifact (here it is) and post-artifact (what happens now? not much). Craig argues that all three stages are changing, and quite dramatically.
The second insight isn’t as delineated, but it comes down to this: what it means to be an author is changing for the first time in a hundred years. This is a profound shift in one of the most leveraged professions of all. Instead of there being a clear box around who an author is and what an author does, that box is becoming blurred.
It’s really the second insight that resonates. What I see is a much tighter connection between authors and their readers than there ever was in the past. There is more of a two way conversation taking place now than there ever was.
In the good ol’ days, you might meet an author at a book signing or a convention, but, other than a few words you didn’t really converse. Today with email and twitter and Facebook, your chance of having a back and forth conversation is much improved.
Then again, maybe the circles I hang out in have changed and I converse with authors more because I just “know” more authors. Either way…I think the book world hasn’t finished changing. And all indications are, the life of an author will keep getting more complicated.