$10 For a Book Summary?
HarperCollins has just launched a new format called the “video book”—leading one Ars staffer to ask, after hearing the news, “Aren’t those called movies?” But movies aren’t generally 23-minute productions that feature a book author giving the Cliffs Notes version of his work in front of a blank white background. HarperCollins’ first effort comes from blogger/Real Journalist/academic/Davos gadfly/TV critic Jeff Jarvis, who pitches his new book What Would Google Do?.For instance, HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray told Publishers Weekly, “A video edition of Jeff’s book is a terrific example of a product that is both a viral marketing tool and possibly a new revenue stream.” Unfortunately, “viral marketing” does not generally refer to $9.99 DRMed Amazon downloads, which can’t be forwarded or shared with others unless they crowd around your laptop to steep themselves in the cult of Googley thought. So what, exactly, is the point here? At least Murray emphasizes the “possible” nature of the revenue stream. This video is essentially a brief distillation of the book’s main idea, but Jarvis has already provided that on his blog. Critics have distilled it in their reviews. Jarvis has used it as the basis of a BusinessWeek cover story. He also talked about it in a free six-minute BusinessWeek video. Et cetera.What’s even odder is the fact that HarperCollins wants $9.99 for the video even as it gives away the book’s text online.