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Books Are The Souvenir Edition For Your Idea

from the good-quotes dept

We’ve talked at length about the difference between infinite goods and scarce goods in various areas, and how you should spread the infinite ideas to make the scarce goods more valuable, but here’s a great quote that puts that in perspective when it comes to books. Mathew Ingram points us to an interview with entrepreneur and author Seth Godin, where he notes:

“Books are souvenirs that hold ideas. Ideas are free. If no one knows about your idea, you fail. If your idea doesn’t spread, you fail. If your idea spreads but no one wants to own the souvenir edition, you fail.”

That’s a beautifully succinct way of explaining the entire concept, though I think that the last bit (about getting people to own the souvenir edition) may be changing as well — and other business models will start to show up.

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Comments on “Books Are The Souvenir Edition For Your Idea”

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Sopor42 says:

Dead on!

Right on the head of the nail!

There are many CDs that I have purchased purely so that I can have the album art*! I can most definitely get my hand on the music without a problem, but I want to have that case insert as my souvenir, so I gladly pay for the tangible item.

*And, in some cases, with hope that some of my money goes to the artist, even though I know that’s naive…

Michael Long (user link) says:

Infinite, scare, infinite

So… you spread around the infinite idea (what used to be called marketing and promotion) to promote the sale of a scarce product (the book). Got it.

Unless, of course, the book is published as an ebook, which is suddenly in itself an “infinite” product, which means that its production “cost” was zero, and as such no one now needs to buy or pay for it.

So… now you spread around the infinite idea in order not to sell an infinite product… and hope someone buys the t-shirt as a souvenir.

Got it.

Douglas Gresham (profile) says:

Re: Infinite, scare, infinite

Oh look, it’s the “selling t-shirts is the only business model” argument. There are plenty of other scarcities to sell – the actual creation of work on a commissioned basis, the author’s time (signings, readings and whatnot), and I’m sure Mike has been over many more. That’s what the last sentence of the article is about – new business models showing up.

There’s also the fact that publishing ebooks has typically led to higher sales of the dead tree one (see here for an example), backing up the whole “souvenir” idea.

But hey, don’t let facts get in the way of your argument.

Steve (profile) says:

Not just a souvenir

I buy technical books for work all the time. I Like them because I can read them more comfortably, refer to them without having to tab between windows while working, and – if I get the ebook bundled with it – copy paste when I need to plagarize a report 🙂

I know I could just print out an ebook, but that is so rarely worth the effort – the difference between the printed and the bound version is usually worth the cost.

Kevin Combs (user link) says:

Where's the Set Godin T-shirt?

ummm, are we missing that Seth himself has a pretty different business model than only souvenirs? Large consulting fees, spin off businesses, ad revenue from blogs, speaking engagements… Seth clearly understands that creating the perception that you originated an idea sets you up to be the premium supply source when someone wants to buy help using the idea.

While what he says is true, ideas are free, Seth knows that many just can’t accept that idea. He knows that Big companies in particular don’t readily understand that they can just use an idea. They buy copies of the books for teams. They buy consulting services. And the originator is always the premium brand for these helper services.

seth godin (user link) says:

Re: Where's the Set Godin T-shirt?

Well, I’m not the poster child (do as I say, not as I do) but to be clear, I don’t do any consulting, never have. I don’t make any money from my blog, never have and I don’t have any spinoff businesses. The souvenirs are the speeches (which by definition are limited and rare) and the books. (And the action figure, of course).

Stephen says:

production costs


Re: “Unless, of course, the book is published as an ebook, which is suddenly in itself an “infinite” product, which means that its production “cost” was zero, and as such no one now needs to buy or pay for it.”

There are plenty of production costs beyond the paper, printing and glue. There’s copyediting, compositing and conversion into the various ebook forms, not to mention editing and marketing.

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