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21st Century Calling Card

2010 October 20

Not long ago a colleague told me I had inspired him to write his first book (he’s since gone on to publish three or four more). He said it was because I once told him, “A book is the 21st Century Calling Card.” This would have been in the late 1990s — it was a phrase I often used in those days with business consulting clients looking for an edge — and though I remembered passing on this sage advice I had no idea it had ignited his passion for publishing. I was flattered when he reminded and thanked me, but I mention this now because even in the era of websites and Facebook and Twitter and blogs, the book still resides at the top of the Information Age pyramid.

          I suppose this is true because nearly anyone can build a website or start a blog or create a Facebook page or establish a Twitter account — but not everyone can write a book. And even fewer can get one published. But that’s not all: Even those involved in cutting-edge digital technologies want to write a book about what they’re doing. (An educator advocating paperless classrooms recently sought my advice about writing a proposal for a book that would describe how to implement that idea.) And many feel they need to write a book  — occasionally because they believe it’s essential for their message to reach a larger, often older (non-plugged-in) audience, but more often to gain a certain level of prestige than otherwise would be unattainable. When you’re introduced as an “author,” people still step back a bit, and maybe even let out a little gasp. It’s still considered the most impressive communications achievement. And I say thank goodness for that.

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