Pulitzer Prize winning author Tony Horwitz sells his books online with video
About a million years ago (or just a hair over 5,000 years ago if you live near the Creation Museum in Kentucky), man learned to walk erect.
As he stood over the savanna grass of East Africa, life was dangerous – and short. Only those with quick reflexes survived to reproduce. As a result, we have buried in our genes a deep attraction to flashes of light. A flash of light quickly draws our attention because something inside says ‘this is about survival’. There is something coming at you.
It is no wonder that television, upon its invention, was more popular than heroin. As Ed Murrow said, it is flashing lights in a box. It is not surprising that people will forego paying for food or heat before they will stop paying their cable bill. It’s in the genes. Flashing lights. Survival.
As video migrates to the web, this deep seated survival instinct, this deep seated attraction to flashing lights means that in a kind of Gresham’s Law, the most dynamic media (video) will drive out the less dynamic media (text) and in fairly short order.
I received today in my email a very graphic demonstration of this. Two of my friends from Columbia University, Tony Horwitz and Geraldine Brooks, (married – and to each other), are among the literary powerhouses of the country. They each have won their own Pulitzer prizes, and they each have produced their own best-sellers.
Today, Geraldine sent a link to a website called Bookvideo.tv. Remarkably, it is a site that uses video to sell books. The video is pretty badly made. Were the books as badly written, they would win no Pulitzers, and the videos on bookvideo are not about to win any Emmys. They are about one step up from Youtube. But it is the very idea that in a generation that watches 4.5 hours of TV a day (and buys 1 book a year), video should become the driving force for book sales – or soon shall be.
As video migrates to to the web, and as the technology for producing video becomes cheaper, better and easier to use, there is going to be lots more video online. Lots more. In fact, we may reach the point where online is predominantly video. You might click on a picture to access the text behind it.
Bookvideo is an indication of what is surely coming.
In the meantime, buy the book. I have no doubt it is a good deal better than the video.