Why Is Google’s Eric Schmidt Shopping a Book Proposal to Old School Publishers?

Crane’s NY Business reporter Matthew Flamm reports that publishers are bidding on a book proposal by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen that is an extension of their Foreign Affairs article, The Digital Disruption. Here’s Flamm:

New York publishers are bidding on the wonkish business leader’s first book, according to several publishing industry insiders. The auction is expected to close on Tuesday.

Mr. Schmidt will write Empire of the Mind: The Dawn of the Techno-Political Age with Jared Cohen, a 29-year-old former state department whiz and author who is director of the new Google Ideas think tank.

The question is not, why is Schmidt writing a book? CEOs have done it for many years. It’s a great PR and lobbying move, especially as we debate the role of the internet in the North African revolts now taking place.

The question is, why is Schmidt going to publishing houses instead of using his own Google Books platform to tell his story?

Possible answers:

  1. Schmidt wants the prestige of hardcover publication and the validation of a big advance.
  2. Schmidt wants to book available in print because he doesn’t think Google books has any hope of being able to actually publish books?
  3. Schmidt thinks publishers have a better chance of getting him a cable TV show.
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