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When I started MNB more than 10 years ago, to be perfectly honest, I had a series of personal goals.
I wanted to go to interesting places. I wanted to eat great food and drink terrific wine. I wanted to meet fascinating people. I wanted to learn a lot and write about everything I learned. And, I wanted to have a great time doing it all.
The good news, at least for me, is that it all has worked out pretty well ... and I’m lucky that you folks keep reading my stuff.
This week was a perfect example. I was in Orlando, Florida, attending and moderating a panel at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Midwinter Executive Conference, and one afternoon drove over to Winter Park to have lunch - an unbelievably flavorful Ahi burger and an adult beverage - with a fellow named Bob Morris.
I was interesting in chatting with Bob for several reasons. First of all, I’ve been a big fan of his series of Zack Chasteen mystery novels for years. But Morris, who has been writing newspaper and magazine columns for years, recently published a series of e-books that essentially are collections of previously published pieces around different themes - food and wine, travel, raising kids, etc... These are only e-books; no paper-and-ink versions are available. They’re inexpensive, ranging between 99 cents and $2.99, and one of the places you can find them is here.
The move to e-books fascinated me, in part because Bob also owns a small custom publishing house that, on its website, notes that “unlike digital or video products, a book is a concrete, physical object. And presenting a book to another person – be it a friend, a client or an employee – is a personal act, one that carries with it a most human element. Books create everlasting bonds.”
(I also connected with the Story Farm website because it talks about the power of story as a communications tool, something that Michael Sansolo and I wrote extensively about in our book, The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.)
I was fascinated by all this, and wanted to chat with Bob about these various enterprises. And, I just wanted to meet him.
Bob, who seems like a great guy, said that moving to e-books gave him a level of freedom and speed that the traditional publishing model no longer offers. He could bring the books together and get them out there without having to deal with bureaucracies; he also can make more money from the books, having disintermediated traditional publishing companies and connecting more directly with readers.
At the same time, Bob told me, he remains convinced that there is a future for paper-and-ink publishing, which is why he started Story Farm ... and he’s found that number of companies and businesses have embraced the notion of creating books that advance their stories and broaden their exposure. As a working writer - and boy, I get this - Bob said that he has to cover all his bases, embracing e-book technology when it seems most relevant and paper-and-ink publishing when it seems like the most appropriate alternative.
This is very smart, I think, and an excellent metaphor for what we all have to in our businesses. We have to identify ways in which to be relevant, and, when possible, do everything we can to get closer to our consumers, forging connections that will serve us well in the long run.
In essence, this what Louis C.K. recently did when he decided to sell one of his concerts directly to fans via his website, as opposed to doing it for HBO or Comedy Central or some other corporate entity. And it is something that I think we’re going to see more and more people and businesses doing, because technology makes all these things possible.
That’s my story. That’s Bob Morris’s story. And we’re sticking to it.
That’s what’s on my mind this Thursday morning, and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: