Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian says he is writing a book
He is leaving his post as head of marketing for travel-search site Hipmunk
The book will include tips for Web entrepreneurs and people running viral campaigns
Alexis Ohanian is a champion of the Internet as a catalyst that lets anyone become a publisher or a promoter of worthwhile causes.
But for his first book – which happens to be about that very topic – Ohanian is turning to the traditional publishing channels.
The book will tentatively be called “Without Your Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made – Not Managed,” said Ohanian, who co-founded website aggregator Reddit and started his own independent book publisher. To develop the book, he and his agent sought the services of Business Plus, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group-owned Grand Central Publishing.
“There’s a big value that going through a traditional publisher brings to someone like me,” Ohanian said in a phone interview from Malmo, Sweden, where he was speaking at a conference. “Frankly, I just needed the help.”
The tiny, charitable publisher that Ohanian runs, called Breadpig, puts out books for popular Web comics, such as XKCD and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Because those websites already had fans accustomed to paying for posters, T-shirts and other merchandise, Breadpig did not need to focus on marketing, building online storefronts or dealing with retailers, as most book publishers do.
After co-founding, leading and now advising Reddit, which continues to grow as its peers have withered, Ohanian helped launch the fast-growing travel search website Hipmunk. He relinquished his role as head of marketing this summer in order to focus on writing and on his speaking engagements.
People in the publishing industry began approaching Ohanian in 2009 after he gave a TED talk about an obscure Web meme called Mister Splashy Pants. The name is taken from a Greenpeace mascot that some blogs and Reddit users helped promote.
The book will combine advice for building successful startup ventures and marketing secrets with examples of heartwarming stories about using the Internet for grass-roots campaigns. It will also include doodles, which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising coming from the man who designed the logos for Breadpig, Hipmunk and Reddit.
“Without Your Permission” is expected to be published in early 2013, according to Rick Wolff, the publisher and editor-in-chief for Business Plus. The publishing house has produced best-sellers from CNN founder Ted Turner, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, and Zappos founder Tony Hsieh.
Ohanian, at 28, is the least experienced of the group, despite his major accomplishments since graduating from the University of Virginia.
“This guy is a real personality, and he obviously knows the Internet,” Wolff said. “There are a lot of books out there about how to become a success on the Internet. Most of them don’t sell much.”
However, Ohanian has Wolff and his team convinced. If the budding author can help rename a serious Greenpeace initiative as Mister Splashy Pants, maybe his viral abilities can sell books, too.