If you had asked me to guess, I would have said that 60-70% of REWORK sales came from ebooks. It’s a book targeted towards starters, people eager to jump on new trends and technologies, and our natural sphere of influence is with web people. Surely most would be springing for the Kindle or iBookstore versions, right? Wrong.
We’ve sold about 170,000 copies of REWORK across all media. Only 16% of those sales came ebooks. That’s only slightly higher than the 11% of buyers who went for the audio book. In other words, about three quarters of sales came from good ol’ hardcover books.
Lately, things have been improving somewhat for the ebooks. Our most recent statement shows that 19% of new sales came from ebooks. So things are changing, but not nearly as fast as I would have guessed.
Perhaps a lot of people are gifting REWORK to others (I’ve heard from many employees handing it to their boss!) and it’s easier to give a physical book than an electronic one. Perhaps people are smitten with the beautiful drawings of Mike Rohde and want them in the beautiful print. Perhaps physical books are just still a great way to read.
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I’m sure all fields have terrible reporting, but the shit that’s coming out of the tech world must be eligible for some sort of cake. Taste this slice of delicious nonsense that made the Forbes site today in Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: We’ve Moved Past The Cloud:
Salesforce.com remains a stock with much upside, according to analysts at RBC Capital Markets, as the company continues to control larger quantities of customer data and leads the way to a post cloud world.
WTF does that mean?! So $CRM, which is trading at 416 P/E, is apparently heading to greater heights because it’ll control more data tomorrow? Control it how? What do you mean control?
They have a hosted software service that they charge a monthly subscription for. Presumably they’re not looking at customer data for a step 1: mining, step 2: ???, step 3: profit scheme?
What is a “post cloud world”? Is Salesforce not going to sell subscriptions to hosted software any more? Are they going to go back to shrink-wrapped software? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
This concept uses social media to gain knowledge of internal activities and externally about customers to ultimately help increase customer loyalty and foster interaction between employees and between the company and its customers.
Again, WTF?! I can hardly parse that sentence and even when I do, it makes no sense. I thought journalism was the process of researching and clarifying topics such that mere mortals could understand it.
I’ll tell you what happened. The guy writing this piece had no idea what any of any of this means, so he just selected a paragraph at random and pasted it in. The editors saw “social media” and “customer loyalty” and it made the grade for buzzword bingo.
Let’s end with this one:
Benoiff even told customers to beware of false clouds, making a clear reference to Oracle and its Exadata server.
Benoiff rambling about false clouds and moving beyond the cloud is just Benoiff doing what he does best: Selling buzzword bingo at a markup. It’s hard to fault the man for staying true to that game when it’s served the stock so well for so long.
But the “journalists” at Forbes are supposed to at least make an attempt at processing the nonsense before they regurgitate it. For shame, Forbes, for shame.
Here’s a great little copy bit from the SecondConf website. The headline on the home page says:
“Three-day, Chicago-style, single-track conference”
I can easily imagine a more mundane version:
“Three-day, single-track conference in Chicago”
I don’t know what “Chicago-style” means, but it sure beats the mundane version. It’s more interesting and unique than merely stating that the conference happens in Chicago.
I like stuff like this because I personally struggle with making my writing interesting. It’s hard enough to be clear and get your point across. Being clear and interesting—that’s a goal to shoot for.
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I was having lunch today with some editors of a local weekly. After listening to them talk about what they do I realized that we do it too. We’re editors.
They edit articles, we edit software.
We prune it. We clip off the extra features like they clip off the extra words. We trim the interface like they trim a sentence. We chop products in half like they ask for 5000 words instead of 10,000.
The editing process is what makes a great product. Editing the feature list, editing customer requests, editing the interface, editing the code, editing the marketing, editing the copywriting. It’s not about designing or writing or coding, it’s about trimming those weeds back before they ruin the lawn.
So keep that in mind when you write, design, code, or promote. Good editors build great software.
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During the NCAA basketball tournament I heard announcer Jim Nantz telling viewers to go to CBSsports.com for “tournament related social media.” A week later I noticed a category at Maria Shriver’s site for “social media.”
Strange thing is I’ve never heard a non-tech person use the phrase “social media.” Normal people mention being friends on Facebook or reading someone’s tweets on Twitter. They don’t say, “I want to get some social media.”
It’s a good reminder of how easy it is to get caught up in industry jargon and how we talk instead of how they (i.e. customers) actually think/talk. The phrase you use internally isn’t necessarily the one you should use with the outside world.
We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy. As we move forward, our consumer efforts will focus on how we help our enterprise and service provider customers optimize and expand their offerings for consumers, and help ensure the network’s ability to deliver on those offerings.
Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers’ jargony explanation for why Cisco purchased yet is now shutting down Flip Video
Last summer I was driving back to Chicago from Wisconsin. On the Illinois side there are a couple of rest stops over the tollway. It’s a great place to get some gas, grab some caffeine, and stretch your legs a little before the final 50 miles home.
The rest stop usually has a booth where you can buy a iPass so you don’t need to stop and pay tolls all the time. During the day the booth is manned by someone to help answer any questions you have.
It appears that a lot of the same questions are asked over and over. Enough, in fact, that the dude who answers them is sick of giving the same answer. That answer is “Yes”.
So he jumped on a computer somewhere and put together what I can only describe as one of the smartest formats for an FAQ I’ve ever seen. A single answer on top, and all the questions below. The answer is always YES!! YES, YES. YES!! Then he taped it to the outside of the booth. You can’t miss it.
I thought this was brilliant. I just love it. Yeah, it’s full of passive aggression and spelling errors and formatting problems, but the idea in itself is so refreshing. It’s folk information art.
Inspired by this, we whipped up our own version of a YES! page for Highrise. It was a fun exercise in messaging and design.Continued…
While talking to Grant Petersen from Rivendell, he mentioned his love of decades old Chouinard climbing catalogs.
I grew up reading catalogs. The Herter’s catalogue* was the most opinionated one out there, but it was also the most entertaining. Sometimes I’ll read an online comment that, “Rivendell (or Grant) is so opinionated” and it’s supposed to be a criticism. It’s not a criticism. If you want to criticize me, there are way better ways to do it. Tell me I don’t have my facts right, or I don’t give credit where it is due, or my grammar is bad, or my jokes are stupid. That will do the job of hurting my feelings, but being accused of being opinionated is a compliment.
The best catalogues ever were the 1972 and 1973 Chouinard Equipment/Great Pacific Iron Works climbing catalogs. There will never be catalogues like those again. Everybody who writes copy or catalogs or online stuff or reads at all should read those.
The Chouinard backstory
The backstory to the company is a “scratch your own itch” tale. It starts with pitons, the metal spikes climbers drive into cracks. They used to be made of soft iron. Climbers placed them once and left them in the rock.
But in 1957, a young climber named Yvon Chouinard decided to make his own reusable hardware. He went to a junkyard and bought a used coal-fired forge, a 138-pound anvil, some tongs and hammers, and started teaching himself how to blacksmith. He made his first chrome-molybdenum steel pitons and word spread. Soon, he was in business and selling them for $1.50 each to other climbers. By 1970, Chouinard Equipment had become the largest supplier of climbing hardware in the U.S.
But there was a problem. The company’s gear was damaging the rock. The same routes were being used over and over and the same fragile cracks had to endure repeated hammering of pitons. The disfiguring was severe. So Chouinard and his business partner Tom Frost decided to phase out of the piton business, despite the fact that it comprised 70% of the company’s business. Chouinard introduced an alternative: aluminum chocks that could be wedged by hand rather than hammered in and out of cracks. They were introduced in that 1972 catalog, the company’s first. The bold move worked. Within a few months, the piton business atrophied and chocks sold faster than they could be made.
Looking at the catalog
So what kind of catalog do you put out when you’re reversing your entire business? Chouinard went with a mix of product descriptions, climbing advice, inspirational quotes, and essays that served as a “clean climbing” manifesto. It opens with a statement on the deterioration of both the physical aspect of the mountains and the moral integrity of climbers.
No longer can we assume the earth’s resources are limitless; that there are ranges of unclimbed peaks extending endlessly beyond the horizon. Mountains are finite, and despite their massive appearance, they are fragile…
We believe the only way to ensure the climbing experience for ourselves and future generations is to preserve (1) the vertical wilderness, and (2) the adventure inherent in the experience. Really, the only insurance to guarantee this adventure and the safest insurance to maintain it is exercise of moral restraint and individual responsibility.
Thus, it is the style of the climb, not attainment of the summit, which is the measure of personal success. Traditionally stated, each of us must consider whether the end is more important than the means. Given the vital importance of style we suggest that the keynote is simplicity. The fewer gadgets between the climber and the climb, the greater is the chance to attain the desired communication with oneself—and nature.
The equipment offered in this catalog attempts to support this ethic.
A guide for clean climbers.
A few pages later, there is a guide for clean climbers.
There is a word for it, and the word is clean. Climbing with only nuts and runners for protection is clean climbing. Clean because the rock is left unaltered by the passing climber. Clean because nothing is hammered into the rock and then hammered back out, leaving the rock scarred and next climber’s experience less natural. Clean is climbing the rock without changing it; a step closer to organic climbing for the natural man.