Friday, December 12, 2008

Banging The Drum Again...

In his excellent blog post about the current state of the book publishing industry Mark Tavani, a Senior Editor at Random House, makes the following observation.

... books are a mere format. Yes, they can be beautiful and wonderful to hold in your hands, and yes, there are some books I plan to keep in my home until the day I die simply for their sentimental value. So I understand what is magical about books. But the most magical thing about them is the information they convey: the story they contain. The word “book” and the word “story” are not synonymous, just as eight tracks and music are not the same thing. Stories pre-date books by milleniums; and though books might someday go away, story will last as long as our civilization does.

Substitute the word "book" for "documentation," and the word "story" for "content" and I think the observation applies equally to the world of corporate publishing as it does to traditional book publishing.


I need to add a couple of points of clarification here.
- Anyone who knows me and has heard me speak will know I love books (the traditional kind). I have a house full of them, and spend my evenings and weekends writing them. BUT while I'm a passionate bibliophile, I am also aware (as I mentioned in my last post) that the "book model" is perhaps no longer the best model to be using to ensure that content reaches the end user of a product or service.
- While I suggested swapping the word "story" for "content" in the quote above, that was more to illustrate a point. For me everything we write or produce that is designed to pass on knowledge or information is, and should be treated as, a story. The ability to tell stories is the most powerful communications tool we have at our disposal. As Tavani points out, we've being doing it for millennium, and will continue to do it irrespective of any technology or medium.

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