"Every Book Is a Startup" by Todd Sattersten; O'Reilly Media

Thursday, March 8, 2012 4:06 AM Posted by Kevin Shockey
In this publishing experiment, author Todd Sattersten compares the process of publishing a book to the process of starting a new company. In both situations, the author (or founder), makes a series of assumptions that guides their efforts to deliver a book (product) that consumers want.  "Every Book Is a Startup" builds upon the work of Eric Ries and Steve Blank, where each proposes building products (books) in a cyclical fashion that allows real customers to give direct feedback. Each cycle is expected to improve the product until it fills a "felt need" of the customer.

The basic comparison between writing/publishing books and startups is that they are both risky endeavors.  Todd successfully completes the analogy and anyone familiar with the world of high-technology startups will recognize the similarities.  Drawing from the lean (agile) programming process, Todd illustrates how using short iterations of writing, publishing, and collecting feedback substantially reduces the risk of the publishing process.  This connection between lean programming and thinking of a book as a startup, has led many to call this new process, "lean publishing."

In this vain, "Every Book Is a Startup" is a work in progress.  Three versions have been published so far. The latest version contains six chapters.  This iterative approach encourages early buyers of the book, and then promises them each update, as the book evolves and matures. Unfortunately, at this stage of the book's progress, it is more theoretical than practical.  Anyone looking for how to implement a lean publishing process will have to wait until Todd fleshes those topics out in future updates.

In general, I love the concept of this book. As an entrepreneur, this approach resonates with me.  I'm especially looking forward to a more complete examination of developing a minimal viable product for books. I think my favorite section of the book is the discussion of how to construct a book pitch. That said, I was disappointed that that the book wasn't more complete.  However, if you lack any startup experience, then I would definitely recommend jumping on this bandwagon early.  I believe that this technique will become more dominant in the future and veteran publishers will definitely benefit from exposing themselves to the entrepreneurial spirit.

2 Response to ""Every Book Is a Startup" by Todd Sattersten; O'Reilly Media"

  1. scottpattenca2 Says:

    You might want to checkout Leanpub: http://leanpub.com. We have enabled many of the concepts that Todd talks about in "Every Book Is a Startup".

    I've love to hear what you think about it.

    Scott Patten

  2. Kevin Shockey Says:

    Thanks Scott. I have run across LeanPub. I'll give it a more thorough check and get back to you.

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