Was a writer for 20 years, and a business guy for 12. CEO of Audible.com. We rarely find time to talk about what the new technology nad media culture actually means. Media is the sum of discruptive inventions that have changed the status quo. Audible continues the oral tradition that predated books. The paperback book was fought off for 25 years.
The movie industry said it wanted to stop two things: the video recorder, and cable and paid TV. He was at Rolling Stone when they saw MTV form around them. They weren’t able to make the transitions. Cable took 15 years, DVDs took 6 to reach 85% of homes. It’s going to be similar to the political and social disruptions of the late 60s. You are what happens to you at a particular point in time. I went to the Rolling Stone magazine reunion of everyone who worked there in the first 10 years. He was struck by how lucky he was to be young in those years. I knew everyone who was a professional non-fiction storyteller who had a house, it was a difficult business.
The second event that touched me was the death of Normal Mailer. He was a writer with a capital W. He did a piece called “Why are we at war?” which was an early attack on Iraq. He’s accused of not being a patriot. He lives in a nation that affords him time to think, and time to write, and that’s the best thing in the world.
Part of the reason he stopped writing was people just didn’t have enough time to read. He hears it from renowned intellectuals, even last night. A WSJ were stressed out by their lack of time than for their lack of money. He had taking an advance from Random House to do a “you are there” type of story about the digital revolution, but he couldn’t find what to right about. He discovered how compressible the spoken word was as opposed to other types of media. 93 million American works drove to work alone. What if that time could be filled with spoken words? I also loved the oral culture, wasn’t one of those writers who tried to separate them.
In the beginning attacked him in the literary cultures, he was not only abandoning writing, he was abandoning text. The substance what matters, how it gets into people’s heads shouldn’t be a religious issue.
Since starting the company, I only get time to think on airplanes. Spend more time with people whose tombstones will read “I provide liquidity.” He worries about the way culture is going, reaction videos. I got myself in trouble with the early podcasting community because he said Audible was excited because it would provide a farm club for them to cherry-pick great talent. Because if you want to have a job being creative someone has to pay you: the consumer, the advertiser, or a patron. People with less time on their hands than the early podcasters would decide that. He was called the “Bill Gates of digital audio.”