This piece on Amanda Palmer's TED Talk is the first in a new series called Tough Love. I love publishing, but I believe that many traditional aspects of the industry are struggling - not due to the rise of ebooks, but because of the ways in which they are reacting to it and other structural changes brought about by the internet. Authors, books and publishing deserve better. It's time to get smart. If you have a topic you'd like to suggest for Tough Love, you can leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Mashable, Amanda Palmer "won" TED this year with a beautiful talk about crowdfunding and audience engagement.
Its lessons don't just apply to punk-cabaret musicians with a penchant for couchsurfing. There's a lot for big publishers to learn from her tale.
First, a little context. Publishing has traditionally been a Business to Business industry. Its primary focus was, until recently, selling books to bookstores and libraries. The responsibility of dealing directly with readers was down to the stores and libraries themselves.
However, with the rise of ebooks and social media, Amazon and Goodreads, publishers find themselves increasingly becoming public-facing brands, whether they like it or not.
In many cases, legacy publishers seem to be hopelessly ill equipped for talking directly to this audience. As brands, they often seem to have little consistency in their voice or methods. And although they exist in digital markets, much of their efforts haven't adapted to what they can offer. In most cases, mainstream publishing is making very few truly digital products - instead they're just printing on glass. It's not too late to catch up - but it might soon be.
Publishers, watch the video above, and read below. The world has changed, and Amanda is offering you a flower. Take it while you can.
(All images courtesy of TED)