Tim Ferriss shakes up the publishing industry with new book

His latest book The 4-Hour Chef can teach you the skills needed to learn anything. It uses cooking to teach 'meta-learning', a step-by-step process that can be used to master "just about anything" to world-class level in six months - or less. Learning to swim like a pro? Yes. Learning Japanese? Yes. Shooting a three-pointer in basketball? Well, of course, yes.

Yet Barnes & Noble, one of the biggest booksellers on earth with 689 stores, has refused to sell the book.  That's because Ferriss has published it with Amazon Publishing. And as Amazon has been a direct rival to booksellers like Barnes & Noble, it refuses to sell Amazon Publishing's books.

Influential blog BitTorrent has entered a promotion deal with Ferriss to get the book out to the public despite it being "boycotted by US booksellers", and subvert what it reckons will be "the most banned book in US history". "Disruptive voices should be heard," BitTorrent said.

Ferriss said on his own blog: "To compete with monolithic forces that are banning my book due to my publisher (Amazon Publishing) - 1,000+ bookstores, including all of Barnes & Noble - I can't play their game. I have to do things differently."

So he created "The All-You-Can-Eat-Campaign of Goodness", a two-day range of offers of extras if you buy his book in bulk, from pdfs and attendance at a Q&A with him (for three books) to two 60-minute keynote speeches from him (for 4,000 books).

"This is a sniper shot directed at the heart of every member of the publishing oligarchy (not all publishers, mind you) who cares more about their parking spot at the country club than their end user: the reader," Ferriss wrote on his blog about his flash deals. "That pisses me off."

He added: "If The 4-Hour Chef 'wins' in any capacity, authors will feel freedom to experiment. If this book 'fails' because the old guard makes of an example of me, their message wins: don't mess with the system that keeps us fat and happy, or we'll punish you."

So, yes, the banning of the book might mean Ferriss' ambition to top the New York Times bestsellers list (again) is unlikely, as the list is weighted towards print sales. But there is reason for him to smile. The 4-Hour Chef has been given a killer marketing weapon: it's the banned book, the book that's so innovative the institutionalised publishers are afraid to touch it.

Ferriss has managed to take a boycott from a big business trying to bully him, play the game his way, and turn the situation to his advantage. Now that is disruptive.

You can buy The 4-Hour Chef on Amazon

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