The Domino Project is a new way to think about publishing. Founded by Seth Godin, we're trying to change the way books are built, sold and spread. Find out more about our mission here.

Subscribers get free updates, alerts about seriously discounted pre-orders and our eternal gratitude.

September 15, 2015
by seth godin

Subscribe to our free email newsletter. We'll update you once or twice a week, and we'll never rent or sell your email address to anyone. Thanks.

At the beginning, bookstores only sold the books they actually printed. The bookstore and the publisher were one and the same.

Throughout our lifetime, of course, that hasn’t been true. A unique element of this industry more than any other I can think of is that every store sells every book. They might not have it in stock, but just about every bookstore is eager to sell any decent book.

Books actually benefit from being next to their competitors. A book sells better at a bookstore than it does at furniture store.

The flip side of this, though, is that publishers and bookstores do their best work when they can promote a particular book more than the others. Promoting a book, making it stand out, working hard to have it be this book instead of any book—well, when you’re the author and it’s your book, this is exactly what you seek. And that’s what the very best bookstores and the very best publishers do.

I have always respected and celebrated the comity and camaraderie of the book industry. I think the positive contribution of a book to our culture demands that we treat them as special objects, and that publishing and selling them is not just another form of commerce.

Today, my longtime publisher Portfolio (part of Random Penguin whatnot) is republishing four books that started here at Domino: Anything You Want, Poke the Box, We Are All Weird and Read This Before Our Next Meeting. You can see all four of them right here.

It’s my hope that readers will be able to find these books at fine bookstores everywhere. Including Amazon (Derek, Al, Seth & Seth) and B&N, too.

In a nutshell these are two of the problems facing bookselling going forward: How to build an online store that’s good at selling a particular book, not merely all books, and how to maintain ubiquity in an industry that’s being pushed toward silos.

July 16, 2015
by seth godin

Subscribe to our free email newsletter. We'll update you once or twice a week, and we'll never rent or sell your email address to anyone. Thanks.

Harper Lee is a legend and a genius. She’s also the exception that proves the rule, twice.

Rule 1: Your book will not be beautifully edited, it will not be lovingly hand sold, it will not be taught in schools across the country. Your book will not pay you millions of dollars of royalties, year after year, for fifty years, and most of all, your book will not succeed despite the fact that you don’t tour, don’t build a following, and don’t promote. And also, just to rub it in, your book will not become a movie that’s as powerful as your book was, a movie that is remembered by everyone who saw it.

I know that it worked for Harper Lee. But it’s not going to work for me and it’s not going to work for you. It’s a myth that you can write a book and the system will take care of you.

Rule 2: You cannot use hype and mystery and 17 articles in the New York Times to pre-sell millions of copies of the second book your publisher brings out, merely on the promise that it might be interesting, with all the writers who write about it never even reading it first.

I’m not jealous of Nelle Lee. She shaped a generation, gave up her much-deserved privacy and earned all of the accolades she received. On the other hand, I think it’s worth noting that just because there’s lightning now and then, you shouldn’t plan on using it to electrify your house.

We need you to write your best work, and to share it. But please understand that this is the first step in spreading your idea, not the last one.

Goal setting (and a discount)

Sometime on Tuesday, February 17, Amazon is clearing out the inventory of Zig Ziglar’s goal planner. The 4-pack is here. The discount, when it’s live for four hours, will be here. For about $3 a copy, less than $12 for the four pack. The current plan is for it to be an active discount from [...]

Read the full article →

The bestseller effect

There are two markets for books (and music). The first market are grazers, collectors or omnivores. They make the market happen. They read a lot of books. They visit the library often. They have 2,000 LPs in their collection. They listen and read around the edges. The second market consume in response to the market. [...]

Read the full article →

It’s all backlist now

The secret of every book publisher’s success is the backlist. To Kill a Mockingbird, Stretching, Dune… these are books that sell, day in and day out, long after they’ve earned out their advances. The distinction between the backlist and the frontlist (the new books, the promoted books, the books that publishers focus on, ironically) is [...]

Read the full article →

Pursuing horizontal publishing

I’ve explored a variety of ways to get to market with the books I’ve created over the last thirty years. I’ve self-published, worked with most of the major NY publishing houses, did a partnership with Barnes and Noble and another with Amazon… All as a way to solve the problem of discovery. How do we [...]

Read the full article →

The end of the independent bookstore (and a new golden age for books)

ACT 1: The Book of the Month Club. After World War II, a wealthier, better educated country started engaging in more culture, more often, in a more widespread way. We were more likely to watch the same movies, more likely to listen to more music, and much more likely to want to read the books [...]

Read the full article →

Does Kickstarter work as a platform for books?

Those that have been following along have seen the Kickstarter posts I did here, here and here. Feel free to go catch up, I’ll wait… THE THEORY: The hardest part of book publishing is getting the first 10,000 copies of a book read. After that, the book either resonates or it doesn’t. It’s talked about, [...]

Read the full article →

Voting for a winner

The single most fascinating Kickstarter stat is this: The odds of succeeding with your campaign are ten times higher once you reach about half of your goal. While this is somewhat self-fulfilling (only popular campaigns get that far anyway), it actually points to an irrational part of human nature: we don’t want to back a [...]

Read the full article →

When you focus on what’s being removed, it’s easier to understand the revolution

We remove shelf space as a limiting factor in books. We remove the cost of polycarbonate as a cost factor in CDs. We remove paper as an expense in magazines. We remove the number of channels as a limiter in the broadcast of TV. These are not small changes. These are revolutionary shifts in what’s [...]

Read the full article →