Mark Cuban’s Big E-Book Bet

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has taken a lot of risks in his career. He sold out of the dot-com bubble early, striking it rich in a sale of college basketball website to Yahoo for $5.9 billion in Yahoo stock. He bought a controlling share in the Dallas Mavericks, an NBA franchise that, at the time, had a 20-year winning percentage of 40%, and turned them into a perennial playoff contender. So when he finally decided to write a book, it is no surprise that he decided to publish all books online, eschewing traditional publishing and instead catering to those who would rather download e-books. It is another risk but if it pays off, Cuban believes, it may change the way people read. “Don’t feel you have to read it like a book,” he writes in the book’s foreword. “Use it as a way to get fired up. A way to get motivated.” The book, “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It” is a collection of Cuban’s blog posts and inspirational writings, most of which have already appeared online for free. But with more and more readers reading books online and the relatively low price tag of $2.99, Cuban believes that his social media connections and business savvy can turn this new form of publishing into a new wave of media sales. “All I have to do is get them to pay attention and hit a link,” Cuban told the Wall Street Journal this week, estimating that his blog posts attract anywhere from 50,000 to one million readers. His connections to social media are considerable. Cuban boasts 335,000 friends on Facebook and 760,000 followers on Twitter; and he hopes to tap them all about reading his new book. But Cuban says his decision to release the book this way originally came from his lack of trust in the traditional publishing model. He tells the Journal that he doesn’t believe traditional publishing is viable anymore and didn’t want to go through the process of a book tour and other traditional media events to promote the book. Cuban truly believes in the power of reading books online as a way to connect people. In the forward of the book, Cuban provides his e-mail address, asking his online books customers to e-mail him any comments and stories about what they thought of the book. Once again, this openness may seem like a risk. But if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be a Mark Cuban project.