You’re repeating yourself

Why yes, that’s on purpose.

Did you know that children often need to be exposed to new foods 10-15 times before they’re happy to eat them?

Same thing with ideas and action, it turns out.

My impulse book purchase

Last week, for the second time, a friend recommended a book to me.  Rather than let the idea pass, I brought it right away on my iPhone to be read later on my Kindle, for $5.99.

The next day, she brought me a paper copy of the book for me to read. Suddenly I had two copies.

This has never happened to me before: making an impulse book purchase so fast that I ended up with two copies. In fact, for most people (outside of the most avid readers and book-buyers) “impulse book purchase” used to be oxymoronic.

No longer.

The demise of print newspapers and magazines has led to a chorus proclaiming the end of books.  I don’t buy it.  When the price of the book is (or could be) within the vicinity of the price of ringtones – 2.6 billion of those have been downloaded – and, perhaps more relevant, when the price sits somewhere between the going rate of an iPhone app and an iPad app AND they’re just as easy to acquire, there’s no reason to believe that people are going to buy fewer books, but there’s lots of reason to believe that how people buy “books” and what people buy will look a lot more like lots of other things we know about (online content, apps, games) than they will like the book business today.

That’s why it pays to pay attention to The Domino Project.  Why the time to start building your audience, your voice, your tribe is now, not tomorrow.  And why, whether we like these changes or not, it’s time to understand and embrace them.

The slow walk off a cliff

Last month I was in the Strand bookstore and bought two books by Haruki Makamuri, What I Talk about When I Talk About Running and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle.  When I got to the register, I was surprised how strange it felt to physically buy a book in this digital age.

A few weeks later I was in Hudson News at the San Francisco Airport.  There with the other best-selling books was Michael Lewis’ The Big Short which I’d seen in probably 30 other store windows and thought about buying.  I figured with a long flight ahead and the knowledge that my laptop would die before I got to New York, I may as well pony up for the book.

But it cost $27.95 in hardcover.

Though I’d only read ONE book on my wife’s Kindle and I don’t own an iPad, suddenly I felt my iPhone burning a hole in my pocket.  I looked The Big Short up on the two free apps I have on my iPhone (iBooks and the Kindle app), and it was available in both places for about $10.  And on top of that I had the realization that NOT owning the printed hardcopy of this big, bulky book was a plus….along with the prospect of saving 2/3rd off the cover price.

So I downloaded it.

One of the toughest nuts to crack is figuring out which trends, which behaviors that seem so engrained actually have the ability to turn on a dime.  Think iPhones in a Blackberry world; Google search in the days of Yahoo; ebooks today; money transfer through phones in Kenya; texting; wearing seatbelts; smoking; digital photography…

The examples that move fastest are all digital, but wholescale transformation happens all around us.  Reading primarily printed books (or printed anything) is going to seem quaint in 10 years’ time.  And how long, do you think, before every book comes with a free ebook download?  Before you feel like you’re missing out when you read a magazine, because you can’t click on the photos?  Our kids will hear you talk about this stuff the way I heard my parents talk about black and white TV.

The ultimate opportunity for leverage is to spot or create things that slowly, quietly, unexpectedly, have the potential to go from “that’s crazy” to “how did we live without it” on a dime.  And most of the hard work happens during the “that’s crazy” part of the curve, which requires more than vision – it requires mettle.

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What the Vook?

In case you missed it, Vook has a new iPhone app that creates a fully immersed, multimedia experience for books.   It’s really for the iPad but you can already start playing around and glimpse the future: text and audio and video all in one place.  Books like Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus, The Call of the Wild, Alice in Wonderland, and The Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales, from 99 cents to $2.99.

This is what the future looks like – so you may as well be one of the first people to check it out, before the iPad starts shipping in on April 3rd

And if you don’t have an iPhone, you can impress your friends: “Hey Joe, curious what the future of publishing and magazines and newspapers looks like?  Check out Vook.”  (Won’t you look cool?).

This is already what newspapers are becoming, and magazines aren’t far behind.

And eventually things will look like this, and won’t that be cool: