Hey Hachette: Welcome to Gumroad.
This morning, Hachette announced that their authors will be joining Gumroad over the coming weeks and months. We’re pretty excited. Hachette is one of the largest and most respected publishers in the world and they don’t shy away from new technology — which is obviously great for us — but it’s more than that. They want to figure out what a sustainable future in publishing looks like for their authors, and the announcement this morning makes one thing clear:
The future of publishing looks like more authors making more money by engaging directly with their readers.
Also exciting is how closely the first Hachette authors to use Gumroad align with this vision. During his time commanding the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield sent breathtaking photos (and one hell of a zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”) back to Earth and into our Twitter feeds. Amanda Palmer stunned us all with her vulnerability as she explained how she thinks we can close the gap between audience and artists in one of the most popular TedTalks of all time.
Now we get to read the books, and we get to buy them directly from the authors. And the authors make more money. That’s really awesome. Even more awesome? Amanda will include actual pages from her original manuscript (complete with notes) and Chris will add a signed original photo to each purchase. That’s what having a direct channel to your fans makes possible. Amanda, Chris, and other Hachette authors will be announcing these offers in the coming weeks via their respective Twitter accounts.
This is just the beginning.
There’s a theme here. The space between creators and consumers is collapsing. Not just in publishing, but in film, music, video games, design — it wants to collapse. That’s the future we have in mind as we build. At its essence, this future requires two rules:
- It should be really easy for creators to make things.
- It should be really easy for consumers to buy those things, directly from creators.
That’s it. Our job is to elevate these two rules to governing laws and trivialize everything that gets in their way.
We want to build for as many creators as possible. No matter where you live, what you sell, or who you sell to. Enabling any creator to sell anything they make directly to their audience — that’s the goal. A big part of realizing it is to build for creators with audiences of all sizes.
It’s definitely not easy. With every feature we build, we have to think about the smaller creator just starting out and the enormous one with the massive following. If we do it right, the big guys get a really simple feature (the kind that the small guys usually discover and test out), and the small guys get a super powerful feature (the kind that only the big guys can usually afford).
If we manage to nail that (which sometimes takes time), we’ll end up building the simplest, most powerful version of every feature. And that means that Gumroad looks the same for everyone.
Taylor Swift, you, me, we all get the same Twitter. Same functionality, same font size. That’s what’s so powerful. So why should it be novel to do the same thing in commerce? If we’re going to make selling as easy as sharing, everyone needs to have the same experience. In ten years, I don’t think this will be novel at all.