Books are an organized hobby

Anne Trubek writes:

Books are now, I think, and will continue to be more clearly over the next two decades or so, a minor form. Like opera, or theater, or ballet. I adore all of these art forms. I spend money of them, as I do on books. As do millions of others. And we will all continue to. But our numbers will stay flat, or dwindle. So it goes. Art is history, and history changes art, and what was once dominant becomes secondary. It’s fine.

The rest of Anne’s post is incredibly thought provoking, though this is a point that has resonated with me. It reminds me of Seth Godin’s post from decades ago on advice for authors, in which the first piece is:

1. Please understand that book publishing is an organized hobby, not a business.

The return on equity and return on time for authors and for publishers is horrendous. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re going to be disappointed.

On the other hand, a book gives you leverage to spread an idea and a brand far and wide. There’s a worldview that’s quite common that says that people who write books know what they are talking about and that a book confers some sort of authority.

A lot of people still write books. If you’re going to make money off it, the royalties are just the beginning.

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