‘The Content Trap’ Is the Must-Read Book of the Year

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

content, publishers, marketing, discovery, booksA recent trip to a local brick-and-mortar bookstore helped me realize that even the best algorithms and email campaigns can’t replace in-person product discovery. On this trip, I noticed a book called The Content Trap sitting face-out on the shelf and couldn’t resist picking it up.

Great title. Intriguing outline. Normally I’d make a note to grab the ebook sample and consider buying it later. What I saw during my in-store flip test, however, convinced me I shouldn’t wait. So I made the unusual decision (for me) to buy the print copy, not the ebook.

As I walked out of the store, it dawned on me: despite all the daily book recommendation emails I get from Amazon and elsewhere, this one never hit my radar until I walked through that store. Actually, maybe one of those emails did mention it, but I never noticed because I receive so many book promo messages that they’ve turned into nothing more than inbox white noise. This seems to indicate the email marketing model could benefit dramatically from an overhaul.

If so, the vision shared in The Content Trap likely provides at least a portion of the new formula. It’s been a while since I broke out a highlighter and started marking up a physical book. I’m only a few chapters into The Content Trap and I’ve already highlighted dozens of important passages. In fact, it ran my old highlighter dry and I had to buy a new one.

This is one of those books that really makes you stop and think, so don’t assume you’ll be able to tear through it in an afternoon. Here are a few of the more fascinating segments I’ve read so far:

The language for success in media, as in technology, is less and less about content and more and more about connections.

It’s striking how many digital media managers still think in terms of product appeal to individual customers rather than in terms of managing and exploiting connections. This is even more surprising in view of the fact that media consumption has always been inherently social.

Through its Marketplace, Amazon had shifted strategy from selling products to owning a platform. A similar “content versus platform” choice confronts many organizations today.

Superior products are great, but strategies that exploit connections are better.

Can we help readers to help each other? [That last question helped one publisher shift] from being important to being relevant, as one editor put it.

By the way, those quotes are all packed into the first 30+ pages. I can’t wait to read the rest of this book. I also just started following the author, Bharat Anand, on Twitter and encourage you to do the same. This guy is brilliant.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book immediately. You won’t regret it and you’ll be well armed with an entirely new way of thinking as 2017 begins.

This article first appeared on Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies.

The DBW Daily is the go-to newsletter for staying up to date on the biggest issues facing the book publishing industry and indie authors. To get all the top stories and think pieces from the past 24 hours in your inbox every day at 8:00 AM, sign up for the DBW Daily today!

7 thoughts on “‘The Content Trap’ Is the Must-Read Book of the Year

  1. Chris Syme

    Looks like a winner Joe. I’m going to pick up a copy and thanks for the heads up. Love the premise that it’s not about the content, but about recognizing how content enables connectivity. Yup.

  2. Skip Press

    Sounds like egghead crap to me – people buy books to be enlightened or entertained or both. How they find out about them can be utterly over-guessed.

    1. Cindy O

      Research shows that pleasure readers looking for a good book go first to an author they’ve enjoyed and look for more titles by that author. Second, they try genre. If they like mysteries, they go for more mysteries. Third, they find them via word of mouth, so emphasizing connections makes sense because what is following an author if not connections? And word of mouth is very powerful, as are displays as you pointed out. (And you’re not overthinking it.) Source: Reading Matters by Catherine Sheldrick Ross.

    2. uflem

      I agree–and as long as I don’t even know what the “connections” are, I fail to see Joe’s point–it’s NOT evident to me, particularly in light of the fact that good content is hard to find, on the web or anywhere else. To me, it’s the one bottleneck that cannot be overcome by technology or “connections”, whatever they are.

  3. chuck

    Like the Apollo 11 Flight Plan – multiple versions are available on Amazon, but the one that sells is published by a group heavily involved with Facebook and even Kickstarter.

  4. Michael LaRocca

    Don’t be content with weak content. (Get it? Get it?)

    Seriously, thanks for the recommendation. I’ve been stuffing my Kindle with too much fiction, and I like to switch back and forth, so I’m adding this one. I specialize in editing content, and I really don’t mind that the shallow crap is fading from my customer base. I’d like to see it vanish from my planet.

  5. Barbara Miller

    I’ll see if they have it at the library. I find that despite reading books and news online, I find the print experience far superior and make an effort increase my % of reading print when I can. Authors, reviews, genre and word of mouth certainly continue to be viable channels of discovery. I’m sure many, though not all online recommendations mesh with traditional recommendations.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *