david hieatt

Ten reasons to start The Do Publishing Company.


Number 1,

 Find something that you are good at.

It can take time to become good at something. And once you have learnt your trade, it is often better to stick to what you know. Or as Warren Buffett describes it, “stay within your circle of competence."

For me, over the last 10 years, I have written/produced/edited/ and given my voice to 40-50 howies catalogues and cut downs. I have done my 10,000 hours.

So I feel producing a set of Do guidebooks is within my circle of competence. And, yes there will be plenty of new learning from being in the publishing world, but my core knowledge will stand me in good stead.

Number 2,

Find something you love.

I love The Do Lectures. I have not earned a penny doing it over the last 4 years, but I have earned a good deal of satisfaction from it. I have also been lucky to meet some amazing people by running it. And best of all, the talks were watched half a million times last year.

The economy last year was tough as it has been for a hundred years, but somehow we still made the talks happen. That taught me how important it is to me. It also taught me  how vulnerable The Do Lectures is.

That’s part of the reason to start The Do Publishing Company. So it is pays a royalty to The Do Lectures each time it sells a book. The Do lectures then has another income stream which is good.

Number 3,

Have the zeitgeist as your tailwind.

If you are going to start a new business, it helps to have the underlying trend in your favour. The trend, as they say, is your friend.  With the launch of the iPad  I believe we are at the start of a new era for books. The book is about to meet the digital world and an interesting convergence is going to happen. And as a result, the book will become more dynamic.

The change will not happen all at once. We may think the iPod was an instant success but in reality it took 2-3 years to take off. But that said, this is a unique convergence point in time for things digital and analogue.

So what will this mean for the book? Will it die? I doubt it. Our generation loves books way too much.  Oddly enough, the quality may indeed improve as only the good ones get made.  And, even though our main focus will be digital books, we will still make traditional books. (We’ll have created the content anyway.)

But the generation below us are not so wedded to the book. They have grown up in a digital world, and, I expect they will adopt the new digital book with opens arms.

And that presents the real opportunity here. Not just from a business point of view, but as the rules have yet to be written in this medium, it presents a huge opportunity for new ways of storytelling.

And to quote Craig Mod (speaker at the Do lectures 2010) ‘that's one hell of an opportunity if making content is your thing.’

And creating content is our thing.

Number 4,

Make sure the numbers add up?

There are a number of things here that tell me that the numbers can add up. Firstly, we have learnt how to produce content on a low budget. The business is not capital intensive: It doesn’t require a huge warehouse, an e-commerce website, there are no shipping costs and once the platform for the books has been built, it can be used across all the books.

It is hugely scalable: It doesn’t require more money to sell 1 million copies of a book compared to selling a thousand copies.

The competition between Apple, Sony and Amazon will ensure that margins will be strong as they are all fighting to attract good content. And because each book is subject specific, as opposed to being author specific, each book has a longer shelf life.

And because we will work with passionate experts in terms of authors, we will not be drawn into paying un-sustainable fees. The authors will be doing it for their reputation as much as their royalty (above market rate). And lastly, there will not be a huge time lag between selling a book and being paid for it.

Number 5,

Content is king.

Some things never change. It will always be about this: The content. Yes, great content will continue to do well and poor quality content will continue to sink without a trace. A different distribution channel won’t change that rule of thumb.

 The other important aspect of content is suddenly film, music, animation etc will have the potential to be incorporated into books. So if you have access to this kind of content, you can make your books come to life.

 The Do Lectures has created some wonderful talks and we have made some incredible contacts along the way. It is also beginning to build a sizeable audience. With the help of Yahoo this year, we should get 1 million eyeballs to see this year’s talks.

We think we have the advantage of having access to some brilliant people and our chance of working with them again to Do books is much stronger because of it.

Number 6,

Can you put a moat around your work?

It’s important for any business to protect its work. Fortunately, the copyright law in books is reasonably robust. Of course, there will be challenges of how to protect our content in a digital world. (Smarter people than us can figure that one out.)

The other way to protect ourselves is to keep being first with new ways of doing things. And keep moving when others copy us, which they will. The other way for us to protect ourselves is through the trademark of The Do Books, which we have taken out around the world. This may afford us a stronger protection than individual copyrights.

Number 7,

Information can be fun.

I believe there is a gap in the market for a simpler, more intuitive, and more fun guidebook. One that delivers less information. But more relevant information and more inspiring execution of information too.

This is a generation with too much information coming at them but not enough time to decipher it all. Perhaps, what they really need is an editor. Perhaps what they need is less information, but more relevant.

We will bring innovative ideas to a new medium where the rules have yet to be written. We will deliver knowledgeable information from a passionate expert. We will design the book to be simple and easy to use with a common sense approach.

We will seek to bring infotainment to a rather dull arena.

Why do these guides have to be so bloody dull?

Number 8,

Bring the book to life for the user.

User experience is everything. We need to make each feature useful and super intuitive. We want to use this new medium to its maximum. But the user must see the benefit.

The good news is we start with a clean slate. We don’t have to convert our content to this medium. Our content will be designed for it from the very start.

The rules, and the capabilities of this medium are not yet known. But we do know the book will become a start point rather than an end point. It will use links to dig down deeper, they will ask you how you want to view the information, they will allow you to spread what you have learnt, they will allow you to contribute, rate and rant at it. You will be able to scrapbook you favourite bits. You will be able to hear author’s video comments, other reader’s video comments; you will have the option of having the book read to you. The user experience will greatly enhanced.

It will literally come to life. The book will go beyond just being a book.

Number 9,

Be Pro Author.

The author has not got a very good deal for the last 200 years. But the powers are shifting away from the publisher towards the author. For us at least, we want to make sure the copyright stays with the author. We will pay a royalty based on the retail price and not the wholesale price. We will pay the author every quarter and not twice a year. And because each book will be based on a subject, each book should enjoy a longer shelf life.

The author will also have the benefit of being part of a range of Do books that collectively will be marketed rather than bite size chunks for each book.

Number 10,

Have a dream.

One day, I want to open The Do School.

Each book we sell will mean we are one brick closer to doing it.










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Rock solid thinking and a definitely a market waiting for a pioneer to emerge...that could easily be The Do Publishing Company.

In your own words: "Jump....you might fly."

Best of luck, you've got my support already.

We are entering a new age of education and global cooperation. An age where information is not bound within closed pages and locked inside libraries or closed communities.

Learning no longer has to be passed down to us from authorities, but can shared between each other as friends. Faster than ever before.

The internet is an invisible hive. Buzzing with thoughts, emotions, ideas and raw data. The sum of human understanding is being compiled, edited and tended to by a vast network of busy worker bees.

Everyone on the planet with a networked machine can learn and teach anything they are interested in.

The iPad is a new window into that beautiful world of information. It bridges the gap between the raw power and vast scope of digital technology and the tangible, tactile and emotional nature of the printed book.

The dawn is breaking on a brave new world. The behaviour of our species is about to change.

hey ruben, must have a cup of tea next week

Way to go Rubes!

This is just what we need David. I sense success.

May I add to your already sound reasoning that digital publishing also makes it easy to push out new editions/versions; something that traditional reprinting costs would otherwise prevent. I wonder if iBooks will send out alerts for new editions just like the App Store...

I just stumbled upon your blog via Do Lectures. It reads like our business plan for Live&Love York magazine (www.loveyork.org). And, you're right, the odds on David beating the Golliath's of the publishing world have never been better. All the best with it!

have a look at http://www.newspaperclub.co.uk/ for an interesting twist to the publishing thing...

hope all is well david


David, I love how you opened my eyes to the possibilities of the iPad. I thought it just a useless, random marketing gimmick before this.
But Ruben, I cannot see how something with a $500 entry price is making information more accessible. Libraries have always been public - the doors are not locked at all. They've enabled the poorest people access to worlds of information - they still do. But, unless Apple feeds thousands to the needy, the iPad and its ilk are only available to the wealthy.

Brian, I appreciate your points but I think there're a couple of things you're overlooking. 1. Libraries are indeed open and free. However, I'm sure you'll agree that Google and the internet give you access to far more information than your local library ever could (and far faster, too). Not only more information, but new kinds of insight into human behaviour and opinion through online networking. 2. The $500 entry price may seem high but bear in mind that this is a brand new category of hardware and the first edition is bound to be more expensive than later generations. Apple are taking us one step closer toward mass availability of rich, real time media.

Good points, Ruben - points exemplified by this very comment stream. And I sincerely hope that the costs come down. I haven't seen that yet, but I'm still optimistic. And finally, I now see the potential for amazing creativity through this new, richer and more enhanced media.

That last line has a lot of power/potential in it: "Each book we sell will mean we are one brick closer to doing it" ...

I love the idea that every book I buy from you will be adding to the Do School foundations.

You know a million times more about marketing than I do but I have a hunch that making the 'book = brick' notion explicit in your new company could be a winner :) ... I can see the infographic in my head already :)

He is a good friend that speaks well of us behind our backs.

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