My Two Cents: Why Seth Godin Shouldn’t Quit

An open letter to Seth Godin in resonse to his post Moving On.

Dear Seth,

I’m up early this morning, before Michael. And next to his reading chair is your little book THE DIP. Inside the book is wedged a yellow highlighter. When he’s done with this book, and all the highlights have been captured, it will slide into it’s place next to all the others on the Seth Godin  section of our bookshelf. These books get pulled out from time to time and blue highlighter marks may be added to the already present yellow ones. Later pink lines may join them.

Your books are read and reread. Sometimes they’re sent out on “mission trips” or get taken to spend a week with a friend. Most return home with a thank-you note stuck inside, some choose to relocate permanently. From there who knows where their journey takes them.

It’s no secret that my husband, myself, my daughters, son-in-laws, friends—almost everyone we interact with—will, at some point reference or recommend one of your “traditional” books. TRIBES and LINCHPIN are almost household words around here. Your blog posts also come up frequently in conversation and get forwarded in emails. If you Twittered your tweets would be retweeted and retweeted. Each has its unique job to do.

It’s true that things are changing drastically in the world of words and ideas. Nobody knows this better than you. You’re a big reason. The possibilities are being realized faster than we can absorb them. However, in my opinion, the end of traditional publishing has not yet come. Not at all. It has a most crucial and vital part to play in feeding our souls and our minds and challenging us to change our lives.

I see this fleshed out in my own home. Mike’s chair is the perfect example. Propped in the seat is his laptop, waiting to be awakened for the day. The iPad is perched on the side table next to THE DIP and the highlighter, and the is Kindle peaking up from his briefcase on the floor waiting to be compared to the newest Kindle which will arrive sometime today.

I want to encourage to rethink this “quitting.” You say one has to know when to quit and when to stick. Don’t quit that which is obviously sticking. You and your works have a place in our lives that will never be unstuck and we’re very grateful for that.

I think your best work is yet to come … and that’s saying A LOT! Maybe not right now. Maybe it needs to ferment for several years. Who knows? All I hope is that, when it does come, you don’t quit and you give it to us in every form possible—especially traditional publishing.

Please reconsider.

With thanks,

Gail Hyatt

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32 Responses to “My Two Cents: Why Seth Godin Shouldn’t Quit”

  1. Gail,

    I sincerely hope that you sent this to Seth Godin! You are so right on target!!! Wow, I couldn’t have said it better. Not all of us want everything online…seriously, I don’t. I hope he will stop and consider what some of us are thinking & saying.

    Regards,

    Misty

  2. I first read Seth online, later on paper. I like him both ways and I hope I’ll be able to continue having him in my life both ways.

    I could never give up the tangible, bound book. I, too, highlight Seth’s and a few others’ books with yellow and blue and even stick Post-It tabs on their pages. But the part I really can’t give up is an age old habit when I finish a good book. I close the pages and hold it tight next to my chest like I’m giving it a hug. I don’t know why I have always done that. I close my eyes while it’s right there and try to breathe in the very last words of wisdom that woosh out of it as it closes.

    Powering off is not the same.

  3. Great post! Go Gail!!!

  4. This is a really great post, mom. The point about things changing faster than we can absorb them rings true. In those times it’s difficult to do the next right thing, but if Seth’s does not include at least a component of traditional publishing, I think readers might be worse off.

  5. I would like to say that the World is still greater than the on-line side. And there are other Countries than the U.S., developing economies with educated people, most of them reading the “traditional” book. And yes, they also follow Seth’s thoughts.

    Regards,

    Victor Guerra
    (From Mexico)

  6. I’d never heard of Seth Godin before I read your post… one learns something new in the blogosphere every day!

  7. “The hard book … prevails.” For me it’s true, especially when it’s a book with timeless lessons. Seth’s lessons are timely and timeless at the same time.

  8. Methinks Seth should be listening to you. Well said!

  9. Gail really great open letter, and so valuable using Seth’s position on knowing when to quit from The Dip. In The Dip Seth also says “Never quit something with great long term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.”

    This is where I think Seth should take note of his own advice. The long term potential of the published book is still significant. Like Michael I have all the latest tools but the hard book in my hands always prevails, I can’t see that changing for millions of people for a long, long time.

    Your sentence on the written word: “It has a most crucial and vital part to play in feeding our souls and our minds and challenging us to change our lives.” Is pure genius. Thank you.

  10. Gail, The web has offered a lot to many of us but try telling our parishioners to do without their paper parish magazine! Traditional publishing over? I think not… people, many of them still want to glide their fingers through pages made of papers. The different forms of publishing will all thrive side by side a long time yet, but my guess is, words on paper will be the last form to die out, if one must.

  11. I enjoyed reading your letter and my guess is that Seth Godin will also. I guess I see things a bit differently though. Seth is a trend setter. He’s an experimenter. He does things first, and they are often controversial when he does them. But when he moves out in a new direction, he has incredible experiences and he shares them with everyone. I see this as Seth’s decision to continue to be a maverick — to try something new and make a public deal out of it so that he either succeeds or fails, or both, in a public way that everyone can learn from.

    I’m wondering if he’s thinking like this: no matter what, it’s a win for Seth. If it fails miserably, he will learn the lessons and teach all of us. If it succeeds, he will learn the lessons and teach all of us. Either way, he wins and I think we do too.

    Thank you for this fun and thoughtful discussion!

    • Yep. You’re exactly right about Seth. That’s why we love him so much. We’ll be watching.

      • Gail:

        OK, so we cleaned out the garage Saturday, and guess what? I found a treasured Charles Swindoll Bible Study (on 1 Peter) I did back in November 1990! Can you believe it?? Twenty years ago! (I know this because I always record the month and date I buy a book.)

        So, here’s why I’m sharing this. I dusted it off, opened it up, and this morning, I re-read the first part along with my answers to the questions posed. As I did, I suddenly had a more keen appreciation of the points you made in this post.

        I recalled vividly the place I was in my life 20 years ago. It brought tears to my eyes. I even found myself re-annotating some of what I recorded all those years ago. I saw where I have grown, and where I still need to grow.

        I am thrilled at how this process has renewed the excitement and anticipation I feel for my life, and also for the record I am leaving of it. While I love (LOVE!) technology and all the things it can help us achieve, and I will continue to enjoy audio books, this experience has convinced me that nothing can ever replace the contribution to life that is made by a good, bound book.

        I don’t know you, yet I have you to thank for helping me see this first hand. Thank you for that.

        dM

  12. Could Seth be the one to eventually revolutionize the book publishing model? I wouldn’t be surprised. Everyone loves physical books. Few people seem to be deeply in love with the publishing process that takes so much time.

  13. Exactly. In the words of Richard Rohr, “everything belongs.”

  14. I am with you, friend. Perhaps I am too aesthetic. But for me, part of the experience of a book is the weight in the hand, the feel of the cover, and the scent of the pages. Also, a well-loved book like you describe is one in which I develop a kinesthetic memory of the location of passages I visit again and again.

    I regularly listen to books on audio, and love the fact that kindle readers on my phone and computer have made so many more books affordable and accessible to me. However, it should be said, if I really love a book I experience on audio, I buy a hard copy of it so I can dialogue and underline and interact…so it can call to me from the shelf when, at a later moment, I need to hear from it again.

    It is a wonderful time in history to be a lover of words…a lover of books. Never have so many options been available to us. Why, at this glorious moment, would we want to take any of those options away?

  15. This is timely. While running this morning i was thinking, “I wonder what Hyatt and other publishers are thinking about Godin’s latest news.”

    I’m relatively young, 36, and have made the leap from reading news and other timely info on-line but for me there’s nothing like holding and reading a book. Although i am afraid that there days are numbered.

    As much as it hurts publishers that embrace this change will win – those that scoff and ignore this reality will be left behind… or at least a “dip” (another Godin title).

  16. Gail: What a terrific post. Amen to everything you’ve said. (And I CAN picture Mike’s chair.) You’re the best. Robert

  17. I love how gracious and sweet your letter was, Gail.

  18. I always think it’s interesting when two people can read (or see or hear) the same thing and get two completely different impressions from it.

    My impression of Seth “moving on” is he is going to keep doing what he does, but do it better. He didn’t say there was never going to be physical copies of his book ever again. He didn’t say he was going to stop writing. He is merely not going to use the publishing machine anymore.

    For him, it makes complete sense. He has worked tirelessly to build his tribe and now he no longer needs the big publisher’s help to find the people he wants to talk to. They are already coming to him.

    I’m excited because I believe this new direction for Seth will mean I get to read his words more quickly and with less moving parts in between him and I. I’m excited to see what he does next!

    • Very good point, Tim. You may be exactly right. Even so, I still think that “traditional” publishing makes since for someone with a huge, well established tribe. The beauty is that it doesn’t have to be either-or.

  19. Dear Gail,

    This is a great letter. If I ever think about quitting something, will you write me a letter like this?

    Thanks!
    Ron

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Thus Spoke Seth Godin « virtualDavis - December 12, 2011

    [...] It’s stunning how much has changed since then. Staggering. And not a little scary (ie: “One Dark Side of Publishing Changes“) either… But it’s also thrilling and exhilarating! And inevitable. Though not everyone agrees on this last point. In evidence, consider this poignant request from the sage, book loving Gail Hyatt: It’s true that things are changing drastically in the world of words and ideas. Nobody knows this better than you. You’re a big reason. The possibilities are being realized faster than we can absorb them. However, in my opinion, the end of traditional publishing has not yet come. Not at all. It has a most crucial and vital part to play in feeding our souls and our minds and challenging us to change our lives. I see this fleshed out in my own home. Mike’s chair is the perfect example. Propped in the seat is his laptop, waiting to be awakened for the day. The iPad is perched on the side table next to THE DIP and the highlighter, and the is Kindle peaking up from his briefcase on the floor waiting to be compared to the newest Kindle which will arrive sometime today. I want to encourage to rethink this “quitting.” You say one has to know when to quit and when to stick. Don’t quit that which is obviously sticking. You and your works have a place in our lives that will never be unstuck and we’re very grateful for that. I think your best work is yet to come … and that’s saying A LOT! Maybe not right now. Maybe it needs to ferment for several years. Who knows? All I hope is that, when it does come, you don’t quit and you give it to us in every form possible—especially traditional publishing. Please reconsider. (The Treasure Hunt, by Gail Hyatt) [...]

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