New Publishing Business Model #10: The Complete Guide to Google Wave

Discuss: Google Wave is the Tickle-Me-Elmo of Fall 2009 for web denizens. Everyone wants to play with it but it’s not clear whether it will end up changing everything or just get crammed in the back of closets with an Alf doll and a some old Barbies who got innovative hair cuts thanks to scissor-happy pre-teens.

Gina Trapani and Adam Pash, creators of the new online, unofficial Wave ‘manual’ The Complete Guide to Google Wave, while totally keen on the potential of the new online communication tool, recognized that the window to get a guide into the market is small. Additionally, the potential for crowdsourcing and reader collaboration is high. So instead of printing books and letting them get stale as the Wave tool moves forward, the authors have an online eBook version of the site that will be constantly updated:

You always have access to the latest and greatest version of this guide’s contents in its entirety at completewaveguide.com. In addition to the web site, this guide will be available as a DRM-free PDF (forthcoming) and an independently published softcover print book (coming early 2010). We’ll continuously update the pages on the web site as we become aware of corrections and additions to its contents.

Because Wave is still very early in its development and adoption, we’ve committed to four editions of this book that will become available as Wave grows throughout 2010.

Is the book itself a money-making venture? Well, noprobably not. But by presenting themselves as authorities on the subject, winning the trust of avid users, as well as gathering valuable insight from wiki-likey type folks, Trapani and Pash are ‘establishing a vertical’ (a great quote from my colleague Tim Middleton) where they can move on to write more books on the subject, speak as experts and even perhaps even work as consultants as the tool is adopted.

In other words, a traditional model of expert > author becomes inverted. By becoming an author (note: Trapani and Pash are already established tech authors), and gathering a community that supports and bolsters your position, you’ve become a de facto expert. The book is a tool that may or may not generate revenue on its own but instead becomes your business card that gives you the authority to comment, consult and create even more.