Bob Garfield Writes His Latest Book, Listenomics, In Plain View

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This is just another fine example of living and breathing the new world of Social Media. In October, 2005 I posted: Marketing Article Of The Year – Inside The New World Of Listenomics By Bob Garfield. I felt that Garfield had hit the nail on the head. One of my favorite quotes from the article Inside The New World Of Listenomics in Ad Age Magazine is:
“What’s left for agencies? If the conversation is dominated by consumers themselves, and they’re paying scant attention to the self-interested blather of the marketer, who needs ads – offline, online or otherwise? This raises the question of what agencies are left to do.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Garfield in person at the Sympatico MSN Digital Ad Summit a few months back. After discussing Listenomics, he told me that he was thinking of writing his next book by using Blog technology for all to see. He kept his word.
On Tuesday of this week, Garfield posted to his Blog: Listenomics – The Online Book Project Starts Now. Tres cool as we say in Quebec.
“…now comes ‘Listenomics: the Book,’ which I’ll be writing right here, in this space, over the next 18 months. With your help, I hope.
The idea is to put it together, chapter by chapter, with ideas, criticism and corrections coming from all of you out in the Bobosphere. (You may think of it this way.) It’s no wiki; I’m the sole author. And it will be owned lock, stock and hypertext by my employer, Crain Communications. But who cares? It’s being produced in full public view for public view.”
There is still lots of talk about how the digital space will kill the print world. I wonder if this process for putting a book out will help or hinder sales once it hits the stands of the traditional world. I am also curious if The Cluetrain Manifesto folks had a similar challenge, seeing as that entire book is available to read from their website?
You can follow the wonderful world of Listenomics here: Garfield : The Blog.


  1. Sorry for the lack of links to what I’m about to reference, but I can think of several instances when this method of book writing/creation/instant feedback and vetting was tried. The first I can recall was Dan Gillmore on “We the Media” — (shameless disclosure : ) — I noted that example because Dan mentioned me in the book). David Weinberger did a form of this for one of his books — post Cluetrain. (However, and I’m fuzzy on my memory, I believe he decided NOT to do it on a subsequent book). Robert Scobel and Shel Israel used such an approach in their book’s writing. “The Long Tail” — which is coming out this month, I believe, was heavily blogged during its writing by Chris Anderson, although I don’t believe it was posted in-progress. He did use a book-specific blog throughout the editorial process, however. I can think of several examples of books being released free online and in print at the same time: Seth Godin has done this with great success. Also, the science fiction writer/tech pundit Cory Doctorow was a pioneer in this arena — basically granting permission to folks to “hack” his books in any way they want, so people have created audible books and all sorts of mashed-up versions of his books….but the print versions do well also. These are just a few of hundreds of examples, I’m suree.

  2. You’re absolutely right Rex and, by no means, did I try to state that Garfield is the first.
    I’m a huge reader (as people know), so I’ve read almost all of the books or even had discussions with the authors you’ve mentioned. What I find most interesting is that someone like Garfield is not as vanguard as Godin, Weinberger or Gillmore. I think we’re heading to a huge Tipping Point where the lines are getting blurry, and how to define what an author is will become ever-more challenging.
    Quick question: do you feel that the books created in open source style are as strong as when the author has a personal/clear vision and direction and brings forward the printed tome without the ongoing insights from a community?

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