Last night I had the pleasure of hearing best selling author Seth Godin speak at this month’s LinkedOC event in Segerstrom Hall. Godin’s talk centered around the subject of his latest book, Poke the Box, in which he encourages us to take initiative; to instigate; to GO! Writes Godin:
“Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn’t do.
If you lived in that world, what would you do?
Go. Do that.”
Godin is a terrific speaker, very relaxed and personable as he skillfully balances enlightenment and entertainment. I won’t repeat his talk (Ricardo Bueno put together a great recap), as you can get even more from his book. What really intrigued me was the Q&A afterwards, particularly when he described his Domino Project.
What is the Domino Project?
The question came from the audience after his talk. Seth spoke passionately about how he felt the publishing industry has lost it’s way. “Bookstores are dead,” Godin boldly declares. Not dying. Not hurting. Just dead. So he partnered with Amazon, who happens to sell a few books directly to consumers, and has some interesting data about those sales.
From Amazon, Godin learned that a majority of sales of his last best seller were to customers who bought in multiples — two, three, five or more copies of his book. Godin’s books are unique not only for their content, but their form factor. They are small, compact packages that can easily be absorbed in a long plane flight and passed on to a friend, making them well-suited for multiple purchases.
The Domino Project changes the formula. Instead of publishers selling to bookstores (who aren’t really the customer), Godin leverages Amazon to sell directly to consumers. Instead of one size fits all, you can order Poke the Box in no less than ten different formats and packages. You can get the Kindle version for a mere $4.99, or a pack of 52 hardcover versions for $341 (and everything in-between).
Godin even points out the the front cover of the book has no text on it. No title, author or marketing speak. Just a clever, retro-looking chap who looks excited. A colleague or friend who spies it sitting on your table is compelled to inquire “what is this?” Godin’s austere cover is irresistible book bait.
It’s still to early to tell whether Godin’s gamble will be a success, but I’m betting he’s at least on the right track. He says that early sales figures are 5x that of his last best-selling book.
With his Domino Project, Seth Godin is practicing what he preaches in Poke the Box.
What box are you poking?