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Reality Distortion Field

by Randall Craig on June 1, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet

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I recently had the privilege of attending Book Expo America, the world’s largest book convention. In attendance were thousands of book-sellers, publishers, authors, distributors, and suppliers. There were panels with CEO’s discussing the future of the industry. There were technical sessions, keynotes, and workshops. And there was an incredible reality-distortion field that seemed to have descended everywhere.

  • The large publishers were trying to justify high ebook prices as a reflection of “value”. (The truth: large publishers have a cost structure that requires the support of high prices.)
  • Independent booksellers were trying to position themselves in a “curatorial role”, selecting and discovering books for their “collection.” (The truth: all but a handful of booksellers will end up just like horseshoe cobblers and record stores – gone.)
  • Most people were straining to find a way to maintain the “literary culture.” (The truth: for better or worse, our culture is now post-literary – books are sold from skids in Costco, online at Amazon
    and Apple, and people consume their information via YouTube and blogs – not newspapers and books.)

It was fascinating to observe people repeating the same things to each other, wishfully hoping that through repetition, that the industry could be as they wanted it to be.

These are the dynamics and challenges in the publishing industry, but each industry and organization has its own conventional wisdom and sacred cows. What are yours?

This week’s action plan: Blindly accepting the conventional wisdom, resisting change, and ignoring “disruptive” technologies and players is easier when you are doing it with others who have a stake in the status quo. This week, move beyond the reality distortion field, and identify the “wisdom” that everyone seems to take for granted. And if necessary, challenge the status quo from an outsider’s perspective. (There is probably a book about this…)

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)