In Celebration of Commercial Independence
Several years ago I worked on an assignment for a major insurance company, re-imagining the role it could and should play in the lives of its policyholders. The (buzz) term of art describing the major force disrupting its business model: Disintermediation. In honor of today’s holiday, we might want to term it Freedom, as in Freedom from intermediaries.
We see it in fresh produce we ‘subscribe to’ directly from local farmers, rather than probe the aisles of a grocery store chock-a-block with offerings from throughout the globe (with no hint of concern for environmental impact). And, of course, there’s the freedom to amplify your voice whether or not the old line publishing industry agrees you have something worth saying.
These last two trend lines converged for me last week when I received from my best friend a memoire published by her 90+-year-old mother: Tales of the Middle Drawer Kidd. (Not quite sure about the second D in Kidd, but there you have it.) The book, self-published for sure, for me became a nearly dream-like meditation on farm life of the early 20th century. It was evocative, without following, hmmm, a classic narrative arc, describing mostly through anecdote the joys and struggles of growing up on a Guernsey cattle farm in Wisconsin. It would have never found a publisher today, and yet it found an audience.
It also conjured a sense of ‘Back to the Future,’ since there we have the original ‘farm to table’ movement portrayed in detail in a book development more reminiscent of 17th and 18th century publishing protocol, than the industry as we’ve come to know and worry about it. I began to wonder if among the greatest advances technology brings we shouldn’t count this charming atomization of book to audience in the Plus column. I think it feeds a hunger we feel for the granular and authentic in Brands, rather than the huge and usual.
Have a bespoke Fourth.