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Video Killed the Radio Star...Is Publishing Next?

Wired_logo The latest (very small) issue of Wired magazine features an article from Clive Thompson called This is Your Brain on Video.  It's a good read for anyone but particularly important for those of us in the publishing world.  Here's my favorite excerpt:

In a sense, you could argue that even after 100 years of moving pictures, we still don't know what video is for.  The sheer cost of creating it meant we used it for a stiflingly narrow set of purposes: news, documentaries, instructional presentations.

Those limits are rapidly changing, of course, thanks to sites like YouTube.  They're having dramatic effects on publishers as more and more Googlers are finding excellent short how-to videos to solve their problems.

I was a perfect example of this a few months ago as I embarked on a project to replace some carpeting in our house with hardwood flooring.  I had zero flooring experience prior to this project but a quick Google search turned up several short (5-7 minute) how-to videos.  I watched a couple of them, tore up the carpets and never looked back.  A few years ago I would have bought a flooring guide at Lowe's or Home Depot.  There's no need for that now with all the great free videos right at your fingertips.

Looking back, I wonder if the publishers of all those home improvement how-to guides are even aware of the free videos that are chipping away at their revenue base.  If you're in the publishing industry have you done much research to see how video is affecting your business?  If it isn't already it will be soon.


Nathan Bransford

I think the Internet is affecting the viability of all sorts of projects, everything from bios of semi-famous people to books on bears. Before the Internet, books were the go-to repository of information. When you wanted to know something about a bear or a public figure you either went to the library or you bought a book. Now you go to Wikipedia. In order to succeed, a book on bears would have to bring something unique to the table (a la RATS by Robert Sullivan), and straightforward bios are going by the wayside in favor of either personal manifestos or extended opinionated takes that can't be duplicated online.

I don't have access to the kind of numbers to determine precisely how this is affecting publishers, but it certainly affects how I consider the prospects of potential projects.

Joanna Penn

This is true - people use Google and You Tube for all sorts of things,from improving golf swing to language skills. However, the publishing of the future uses video within books e.g. embedded within ebooks, or with hyperlinks/text web addresses to create more benefit for the reader.

Conversely, when you post your 3-5 min "How To" video on YouTube you can link that into a book by adding a slide at the beginning and end, with a picture of the book and website. This links books and video so customers can get both benefits, and you as the author/publisher get marketing and happy customers. This is probably easier for smaller publishers/authors at the moment!

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