So Many Books, So Little Time

Photo by enchildaplate on Flickr.com, (cc) some rights reserved.Years ago, when Borders was still thriving, I wrote a speech for then-CEO Greg Josefowicz, which included this reflection:

I was at a conference earlier this year where a publishing executive commented that “flat is the new up.”

And yet—almost inexplicably—the book industry has responded by publishing more titles than ever… from 60,000 two decades ago… to more than 100,000 in the early 1990s… to over 160,000 today.

Put another way, it means you could read a new book every day… and still miss more than 28,000 titles a week.  

Rather than attracting more readers, this proliferation of new titles is distracting them, making it harder and harder for many outstanding books and authors to break through.

Greg certainly identified the problem, but he wasn’t able to solve it. That’s why I’m intrigued by Seth Godin’s Domino Project, “a new kind of publishing” that aims to spread the word about good books (print and electronic) faster than Oprah Winfrey’s book club.

Details about the Domino Project (“powered by Amazon”) are sketchy, but you can read more about it on Godin’s latest blog post, which includes a sharp jab at Amy Chua. Perhaps Greg Josefowicz is out there reading this and wondering why it took so long.