May 9, 2007

A career built on Photoshop

USA TODAY does a profile on Scott Kelby

Written by Jefferson Graham

LOS ANGELES — You can’t get rich writing computer books. Advances are low, and the lifespan of the book is short.
But you can get rich — ask Scott Kelby — by turning the book model on its head and expanding it into a $20 million-a-year empire.

Kelby’s books have topped Nielsen BookScan’s computer and photo categories for three years. But he has much more on his plate than the eight books he’ll write this year.

There’s also magazines (he publishes three), a highly rated weekly video podcast, seminars and conferences (more than 65 a year) and the 65,000-member association he runs, all devoted to his favorite subject: Adobe Photoshop software.

“I wish I could tell you that there was a master plan,” says Kelby, 44. “That we had it all worked out. The reality is, one thing led to another.”

Kelby is a former rock musician who switched careers after 12 years to open a graphic design shop with his wife. On the side, the Florida resident started a local newsletter for Apple Macintosh aficionados. Then he decided to self-publish a book of fun things to do with Adobe’s Photoshop imaging software: Down and Dirty Photoshop Tricks.

That book sold a very respectable 22,000 copies and led to a distribution deal with Peachpit Press. Forty-three books later, Kelby’s books have in aggregate sold more than 1 million copies. His best sellers are The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers (350,000 copies) and The iPod Book: Doing Cool Stuff with the iPod and the iTunes Music Store (more than 275,000 copies).

Now, Kelby is a journalist, publisher, podcast star (his Photoshop TV is the second-highest-rated tech podcast on Apple’s iTunes, with more than 3 million downloads monthly), teacher, businessman and association president with extremely close ties to Photoshop maker Adobe Systems. He gets software releases months ahead of time, and Adobe heavily promotes his seminars.

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