Twenty-six years ago, a four-day conference was organized in California to spread ideas.
It got its personable name, TED, because it brought together people from Technology, Entertainment, and Design. That conference spawned a small nonprofit organization which, arguably, has become one of today's hottest global providers of conferences and online videos for business and consumer audiences alike. Its simple bold red logo — three letters in all caps — is recognized around the world.
Today, TED is best-known for its annual conferences, where it has hosted such luminaries as Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, and Al Gore, along with its rich library of videos of presentations ("TEDTalks") available free on its website.
Beyond that, TED has spun off an array of extensions to the brand.
There's the annual spring TED Conference in California along with a parallel conference called TEDActive, plus TEDGlobal in Scotland each summer.
In addition, TED offers an annual TED Prize to "exceptional individual with a wish to change the world," sponsors TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and runs the TED Fellows program.
TED also makes it possible for volunteers to translate any TEDTalk into viritually any language through the TED Open Translation Project which, to date, has more than 11,000 completed translations. All in all, TED — if he were a person — would be a very busy fellow.
Now TED is entering another market: e-books. But in TED fashion, the organization will put its own spin on them.
TEDBooks, the first three of which launched on January 26, will be short nonfiction works of from 10,000 to 20,000 words, "long enough to explain a powerful idea, but short enough to read in a single sitting," says TED.
Chris Anderson, TED's curator, explains that TED took a look at traditional books and wondered: "Was it possible that in today's fast-moving world with so many demands on people's time that there was an opportunity for a shorter type of book? One that could be absorbed in a single reading session, one that could allow many brilliant people who would have no chance of taking off a year to write a traditional book to nonetheless become authors? We has seen from our experience of TEDTalks that by constraining speakers to 18 minutes, it was often the case that "less is more."
The first three TEDBooks are The Happiness Manifesto: How Nations and People Can Nurture Well-Being (Nic Marks), Dangerism: Why We Worry About the Wrong Things, and What It's Doing to Our Kids (Gever Tulley), and Homo Evolutis: Please Meet the Next Human Species (Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans). These books were written by TED presenters, designed to "expand on ideas voiced from the TED stage, furthering the reach of a single idea, discovery or vision."
More titles are expected to follow soon, and they will undoubtedly be built around conference speakers. TEDBooks are available for $2.99 each as Kindles Singles on Amazon.
TEDBooks are not only quick reads, they also provide a speaker/author the opportunity to extend his or her personal brand and affiliation with TED, and share "something really important" without taking the time to write a traditional full-length book.
For TED, it's not just an e-book — it's a whole new way to further its devotion to "Ideas Worth Spreading," the brand's tagline. According to TED, "By making ideas accessible in a way that matches modern attention spans, TEDBooks aim to stimulate and satisfy the curiosity of a new generation of time-constrained knowledge-seekers."
World-class ideas in short speeches and now short e-books. Seems like TED is on to something — again.