Despite the occasional, hysterical headline about the death of the book as we know it—usually with a reference to the runaway success of Amazon.com’s Kindle digital book display—there has never been a better time to leverage your organization’s heritage in the form of a book. Self-serving? Of course. For you as well as for me.
This past weekend BookExpo America, the U.S. book industry’s annual convention held in Manhattan, included an amusing and instructive stunt that explored the future of the industry. A compilation of opening passages from imaginary sequels to famous books was produced in several forms, from paperback to e-book, during the course of the conference. (“Call me, Ishmael!” from Moby Dick’s Guide to Dating at Sea was one of several openings inspired by Herman Melville’s classic.)
To print paperback versions of Book: The Sequel, Perseus Books Group used the just-released second generation of the Espresso Book Machine from On Demand Books. The size of a bulky corporate copying machine, this latest entrant in print-on-demand book technology has been installed over the past several weeks in a handful of notable book stores in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. An intrepid journalist visiting Blackwell’s on Charing Cross Road in London recently clocked the Espresso’s printing of a 500-plus page paperback English version of Crime and Punishment at nine minutes flat.
So, do we favor Espresso Book Machine paperbacks printed while you wait, digital books read on a Kindle, or books published using traditional channels? Yes to all three.
The great thing about the Kindle and the Espresso Book Machine are that they offer new means to the same end. That end is to get your heritage into the hands of your intended audience to achieve your organization’s goals. Start with the future and work back is the phrase we like to use to help clients focus on the goals they want to achieve by leveraging their heritage.
The book, and whatever form it takes, is the medium. Your heritage is the message. Take that, Marshall McLuhan.