Godspeed, dear book

This Sunday is a special day. I am supposed to send all of the book to the publisher for them to start laying out the pages. Still, three things are missing:

1. The chapter on Cameroon, which is a story about Google.org and their philantropic work told straight from the African jungle. The publisher is saving a space, since I haven’t been there yet… But it’s all set up, and I am about to travel. Very exciting! And something I have not seen in any other books about Google.

2. A small thing here in Sweden, a sales meeting that I hope to be able to participate in, just to give the ”this is how it all works”-chapter some color. Hopefully this upcoming week.

3. A background interview with Google high-up Rachel Whetstone on the subject of Google and China. This interview has been postponed, hm, let’s see… five times. Yes, five times it is. Perhaps I am gullable, perhaps I should have gotten the hint by now, perhaps she has never intended to talk to me. I am not sure what to believe. But I am still hoping for this to happen. I am asking for fifteen minutes on the phone, and there has been no such fifteen minutes for six weeks…

0 thoughts on “Godspeed, dear book

  1. Andy – this is a little bit like giving birth, huh?

    You are doing a great and passionate thing. In the end, as you think about the book, do you have a “so what?” Will this book be informative? Or will it motivate people in some way? If written for the perspective of your mother – is there a “so what?” for her? Or is this something to read on a sunday afternoon?

    A couple of months ago, I was involved in a Stanford project in which MBA studets had to pick one side of the argument of “Google in China.” Do you “do no evil?” or “do something for the future of Google?” or do you “do what is write for a world beyond China.” It was a heated and interesting discussion. And arguably, even inside of Google, the issue is still full of emotion.

    Back to an earlier question for you. What is a “successful book” in Sweden? How will your publisher know? How will you know? Or is this merely a catalyst for greater things to come?

  2. The “so what” will, I hope, be the awareness the book might help bring to the readers. I hope the readers will go on asking questions for themselves: What does it mean that one single player, Google, is such a strong and dominant service in our lives? Is Google really a new way of doing business? If so, is it better? Can a corporation even in theory live up to a motto like “don’t be evil”?

    About measuring success: That’s a hard one. The publisher wants his money back. Break even for him is probably around 2 000 sold copies. The publisher will also measure by what critics in the big papers say – the Weyler publishing house has high ambitions, and are definitely a bit upmarket compared to many other publishers.

    I personally will probably measure by how people I respect but do not personally know receive it. If someone bright, with no personal reason to be extra nice to me, still thinks it’s a well-written and well-thought book – that will do it for me. Reviews will matter for sure. And if sales picks up, that’s great. But my expectations for that are kept low. It’s hard to sell books!

  3. It’s funny/ironic that the interview for the Google China chapter keeps being put off. I think of that as somehow appropriate for a chapter on their China business — not wanting to give offense by saying “no” so instead putting it off many times and expecting you to get the hint.

  4. Actually, the interview has now taken place! The reason for postponing was Google’s new policy in China, they kind of wanted that established before talking more about strategies there… But of course, they couldn’t tell me that, and I grew more and more frustrated. Until it finally worked out!

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