Friday, August 24, 2007

sense of proportion

I know this post is a tad late but I think the point still holds...this was posted on the Richard Charkin blog just after the Harry Potter 7 launch- the author is Seth Godin ('holds an MBA from Stanford, and was called "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week.'- actually, he does have the credentials and sales records to back this up)

'By now, the Harry Potter hype machine has told you all about the pre-shipped copies, the scanned book and the spoilers. No doubt it'll sell a few copies, and no doubt the reported $20 million on security (not to mention fedex expense) was both useful and ineffective.
The interesting thing for me is how the Net changes what it means for something to be a secret. Five hundred year old technology (books) is just too slow for the Net. The act of printing, storing and shipping millions of books takes too long for a secret to ever be in a book again.
My solution? A hybrid. Publish the first edition of the book without the last three chapters. Take your time, save the $20 million. Every purchaser then gets access (hey, everyone gets access) to the last three chapters on launch day.
Books are souvenirs. No one is going to read Potter online, even if it's free. Holding and owning the book, remembering when and how you got it... that's what you're paying for. Books are great at holding memories. They're lousy at keeping secrets.'

now, I finished it by, about the Wednesday after publication- during that time I listened to a fair number of news programes and went to 2 children's parties where a lot of adults were standing around desperate to have something to talk about- my partner finished it by the following Wednesday- she is a civil servant and is glued to her computer most of the day and for a ridiculously large amount of her time at home as she does extra work, my neighbour, a teacher read it by the Wednesday too, my friend, a Psychology professor was also reading it the last time I spoke to him, two colleagues are reading it at the moment, one works in two different book stores and the other works three days a week but listens to the radio a great deal and reads the guardian everyday. A large number of my customers have also or are in the process of reading it.

and what do we all have in common

none of us, absolutelty none of us, knew the ending.

I'm not trying to sound like a Luddite here- just keepng that sense of proportion- if you did not go directly looking for the ending it was pretty easy to avoid (and if you were looking for the ending- why not just open the end of the book)
I admit I got caught out on The Half-Blood Prince but that was because some idiot (who shall remain nameless but is an ex-member of staff, currently resides in Bath and has just done a guest spot on this blog!) followed a link saying it would tell you who dies in the next Harry Potter duh! not content with this being the solitary activity it should have been he called my name as I was passing and I could not fail to see the image on the screen and it did spoil my enjoyment of the book but it was exceptional circumstances and could have been avoided.

Anyway, I guess my point is that yes the future is arriving like an express train etc etc but when it come to wants rather than needs and we are talking about, for want of a better word, hobbies- what you do to fill up your spare time as opposed to work or just the retrieving of information (important, I know) then just about anything you do is a minority pursuit. I like the idea of books being repositries of memories but they can still hold their secrets too.

(ps I know a recent survey said 75% of adults use facebook or another social networking site, now, I heard this on the Today programme and if there is anything Today is poor at it is giving an idea of the questions asked or samples used for 'a survey'- the last time I heard them give this information it was just after they told us that, something like, 95% of nurses were dissattisdfied with their job but the question was, again-, something like, 'could anything be done to improve your job?' Well the only surprise there is that some people did answer in the negative. Ok now I sound like a holocaust or global warming denier(which i am not) but I think, as said at the top of the page, the point stands.

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