09. Chris Labonté, believer in the long life of books

Listen to this episode to meet Chris Labonté, founder and CEO of Figure.1   (18:28)


Chris Labonté, President and Publisher, is the founder of Figure.1, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Figure.1 is the publisher of my book, The Gig Mindset Advantage, which appeared in May 2021. I caught up with Chris about the time the book came out, and this episode is the result of that conversation.


  • Living up to the heritage of his name, Labonté

  • The value of starting young on the edge, on the front lines of the publishing industry

  • The importance of a gig-mindset work culture

  • Hardbacks, paperbacks and ebooks, and the special cachet in the digital age of having a book in your hands.

  • The future of the publishing industry

Where did your name “Labonté” come from?

Chris explains the unusual origin of his name, Labonté, which means “the goodness”. I asked him how he got that name, which I have never heard in my over 30 years of living in France.  He told me the story which started back in the late 17th century. “It’s a lot to live up to!”

Starting on the edge

Chris, today a veteran publisher, began his professional life on the front lines with selling books. His firsthand experience dealing with customers was invaluable later as he entered the world of publishing. He entered it from the edges in!

What triggered your interest in my book?

I asked him a question I had not asked during the long pre publication process when I was too busy finalizing the manuscript to think about it, but it was always in the back of my mind:

What made you decide to publish my book?

You’ll discover the answer here, as I did!

Chris discovered he is a gig mindsetter!

He believes in the importance of creating a culture that nurtures individuals with a gig mindset. He feels they represent high value to an organization because they trigger innovation and new ideas that go beyond what the “normal employee” brings. He offers a mathematical ratio as an example.

In one of his early jobs, Chris was very much a gig mindsetter, bringing new ideas to his boss, who, to his credit, listened and implemented them.

More autonomy for people?

We talked about the impact of the pandemic on the workplace and agreed that it is likely that people have acquired more autonomy in their work than previously. I noted that, at the time of this conversation, the phase 2 of the gig mindset survey was still ongoing. (It has since closed, and the results will soon be published and we’ll see how the pandemic period has impacted people in the workplace.)

Are hardback books going extinct?

I asked Chris how the publishing industry is evolving. He told me there has long been the feeling that the industry “is about to die” with a “bit of a sky is falling” mindset. He goes on to talk about the fact that books are still selling at a high rate, but underlines the current difficulties for independent booksellers because of Amazon and the superstores or big box stores. Amazon is 50% of the entire market in the United States and he says that’s too much power for any single vendor.

Will ebooks replace “real” books?

There’s also a fear the book market will diminish with the advent of ebooks, but Chris feels the ebook has become, for many, a replacement for paperbacks, cheaper than hardbacks.

Audio books are also on the rise. However, he does believe that there are a lot of people who want to sit back with a print book in hand. In our digital age, that brings a special cachet.

Chris and I will be touching base later in the year to discuss the results of phase 2 of my gig mindset research, so stay tuned.

Originally published July 3, 2021

You can reach Chris on LinkedIn and on the Figure.1 website.