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What Written Words Can Teach Us About the Future

What Written Words Can Teach Us About the Future

October 1, 2013

There’s nothing in this world that makes you take more stock of your life than…moving. We love to hate it. Probably because we realize how much crap we own that we don’t really need.

A recent move made me appreciate my love/hate relationship with printed books.

The thing is…I love how books make me feel. I love how books make me think. And I love how books allow me to escape – not just from my own head, but from the digital world too (because we all need to get away every now and then). The typed written word allows me to pretend that the digital online world doesn’t exist (how vintage).

This is me pretending that the digital online world doesn’t exist:



(just kidding. that’s not really me).

back to the written word…

But…(and this is a big but): the typed written word, as beautiful as it is, is also clutter (which, if you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know I despise).

And then I did the math: My Kindle can hold all of my books, and it only contributes to .001% of clutter. If I bought all of my books the vintage way, it would contribute to 120% of clutter (ok, I’m making these numbers up but it’s a good estimate). I was seriously looking forward to tossing/donating a a large chunk of my book collection so I would never have to deal with their clutter again.

Then…I did something that made me dive even deeper into a concept that’s so simple (books). I read the book Fahrenheit 451. Holy. Crap. This book is more prescient today than ever. Please go read it if you haven’t yet. It’ll make your brain explode (mine almost did but I needed to type this first). I won’t go into details about the dystopian future and other totally dorky science-fiction topics. But something in the storyline changed my perception of books after I read Ray Bradbury’s classic. The story made me appreciate books even more. And the book was published in 1953. Ray is my hero.

“It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Ok, besides totally exposing my dorky//nerdy//book-ish side, here are a few takeaways on what the written word can teach us about the future (and even some tips on how you can use books to market your business):

Whether it’s their rich history, tangible feel of paper, or the profound way that an epiphany can get processed on paper, books are a way of life.

But what if you’re torn between the palatable past of books, and its foreboding future? And what does this have to do with how you market you business?


Words are how we communicate.

Such a simple concept, right? But it’s a lot deeper than that. You see, the written word plays a big part in how we market our stories.

Here are some thoughts about what the written word can teach us about the future:

1. Focus on stories instead

Your sentimental attachment to printed books is nothing to be ashamed about. There’s something warm and fuzzy about the smell of paper in books.

Printed books are there when you reach for it, or when you feel the need to underline a sentence (because I still do this when I need to feel smart and/or lose at Jeopardy…which is all the time).

The core of books is stories. The focus on the books themselves is generally not about the printed word (unless you’re reading Fahrenheit 451…ahem). It’s more about the beliefs in the books, the themes that make you think, or the characters that leave you in awe.


Tip: If you own a lot of books, why not pour through their pages again? Jot down how the words make you feel. List the themes. Is there symbolism steeped into its stories that you can use to satiate your thoughts? What about the character development did you love? How can you bring this to life when you’re telling your story?

Ask yourself some of these questions to glean insights for your stories. Use the answers as guidance for creative ways to market your story.

2. Sell with social

If you’re publishing anything (and its platform is not print), you’re going to need to sell with social.

Whether you choose Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest as your platform of choice, a strong foundation of followers finesses how you’re found.

Tip: If you’ve created exceptional content, your readers will naturally want to talk about it. Make it easy for them to showcase your work.

Allow for various versions of your work.

“I fear that our cultural and corporate connections to books as a delivery system may blind us to the alternatives.” Seth Godin

3. Don’t be blind to alternatives

Many believe it’s an end to books. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t alternatives to transmitting your ideas.

Tip: Find ways to bridge the digital divide by connecting with your audience. You can do this in a variety of ways, like creating audio content, choosing tools with purpose, and humanizing your marketing.

Ask questions, be curious, and create value. Don’t look to the past with despair. But instead peer into the future with focus.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with physical books like me?

What classic novels make you think?