Amazon’s new pricing strategy?

A colleague recommended a particular book this morning, so I went to Amazon to check it out.

Here’s what I saw on the home page:

Take a look at this close up:

Do you see the book on the right? It used to cost $10 but now Amazon buyers can get it for only $14.04?

I wonder if Amazon’s experimenting with a new pricing structure. Pretty bold in a down economy. 🙂

Jim Collins on thriving in 2009

I finally read the Jim Collins interview from Inc. magazine called “How to Thrive in 2009.

I’m a fan of his books Built to Last and Good to Great so the fact that I loved this article is no big surprise.

Here are some tidbits:

How do you define entrepreneurship?

I take a broad view of it. The traditional definition — founding an entity designed to make money — is too narrow for me. I see entrepreneurship as more of a life concept. We all make choices about how we live our lives. You can take a paint-by-numbers approach, or you can start with a blank canvas. When you paint by numbers, the end result is guaranteed. You know what it’s going to be, and it might be good, but it will never be a masterpiece. Starting with a blank canvas is the only way to get a masterpiece, but you could also blow up. So, are you going to pick the paint-by-numbers kit or the blank canvas? That’s a life question, not a business question.

I like paint-by-numbers. It’s a great feeling as a first born to “get it right.” But, personally, I’d really prefer to create a masterpiece.

Here’s another one:

It has to do with your ability to handle risk, no?

Not risk. Ambiguity. People confuse the two. My students used to come to me at Stanford and say, “I’d really like to do something on my own, but I’m just not ready to take that much risk. So I took the job with IBM.” And I would say, “You’re not ready for risk? What’s the first thing you learn about investing? Never put all your eggs in one basket. You’ve just put all your eggs in one basket that is held by somebody else.” As an entrepreneur, you know what the risks are. You see them. You understand them. You manage them. If you join someone else’s company, you may not know those risks, and not because they don’t exist. You just can’t see them, and so you can’t manage them. That’s a much more exposed position than the entrepreneur faces. But there’s lower ambiguity on the paint-by-numbers path: very clear but more risky. The entrepreneurial path: very ambiguous but less risk. Of course, the truth is that it’s all ambiguous, anyway. If you think you can predict the future, you’re crazy.

Isn’t the difference between ambiguity and risk a helpful distinction?! Those of us who’ve grown up seeing companies layoff employees know that cradle-to-grave security left the social contract decades ago. Having all your eggs in the “job” basket is indeed risky.

Check out the rest of the interview on Inc’s site. Hopefully it’ll spur your thinking as it has mine!

Storytelling, Journalism, and a Brave New World

Guy Kawasaki justed tweeted about a “must read speech on the new journalism career.”

Guess what? It’s not just about journalism.

Here are some of the thoughts that struck me:

“I don’t think the communications revolution that we are going through is about some reinvention of storytelling or journalistic creed.

The way we tell stories has evolved over the years, but beginning, middle and end still works. Ethical and accurate information will still rule.

I think the revolution is happening because of access. Access to powerful tools and access to global distribution in an increasingly connected planet.”

“As old business models fail, I expect to see an influx of independent, purpose-driven collaborations. Small teams with passionate experts operating for the public good. The new world of open access makes this possible.”

“Marc Andreessen sent an email in the Fall of 1993 to only 12 people. Mosaic, the first web browser, spread virally and changed how we communicate with each other.

Connectivity is the new killer app.”

“It’s true that less people care about Congo than Britney’s belly button. For me, it’s not about reaching the largest possible audience; pandering to the lowest common denominator. It’s about reaching the right audience with a relevant message.

Today, there is a robust infrastructure in place to reach these specific audiences and to create real change.”

I firmly believe this is one of the most exciting times to be alive. We live far more connected than ever before, so our stories can have a far bigger positive impact than ever before.

Especially if they’re told well.

How will you be telling your story in 2009?

[Warning- the following is a shameless plug: If you work in a nonprofit, check out my fundraising seminar on nonprofit storytelling. It covers the basics of crafting effective stories, how to categorize stories to make collecting them easier, and how to help your board members and volunteers tell the stories you are. Good stuff! The shameless plug is over.]

Getting started on Twitter

I’ve been having a lot of fun learning to use Twitter for nonprofits and fundraising.

And I’m pleased that some folks from my local Rotary Club are getting into the game! Well this morning, one of those guys tweeted “I need a Twitter tutor!” I passed that on to some twitter stream. Here are some of the responses I got:

SCATJ @marcapitman for your friend @chrisgaunce: follow others for a while and jump in when you see something that strikes a chord with you

Bobbiec @marcapitman for your friend, Don’t judge, whole site not done yet

seanbohan @marcapitman start w/ tweetdeck – dashboard view of all/replies/directs & has search, can make groups, etc. .. and write 1 tweet/day minimum

Great advice!

Over a year ago, Chris Brogan wrote Newbies Guide to Twitter.

One of the most important things I learned from Chris Brogan is to use the same “identity” across platforms. For me, that meant I started using “marcapitman” for

…well you get the picture. 🙂

I even use “marcapitman” for fun sites like: Wordle and!

Personally, I think one of the best ways to get started on Twitter is to follow alot of people and see how they’re using it. Twitter user Mark Hayward has a great list of 97 suggestions in his blog post 97 Remarkable Ways to Diversify Your Network in a Down Economy.

And you can use tools like and Twellow. They’ll let you see who’s tweeting on topics of interest to you. Or find people in particular careers or in specific of the world.

I’m finding Twitter is

  • helping me as a development professional at the Inland Foundation
    • it’s much less expensive than actually going to some of the conferences people tweet from!
    • I get real-time feedback from people just like my hospital’s donors
    • I get alerted to the latest fundraising blogs and podcasts
    • I’m getting to meet hundreds of folks doing the same thing I’m doing and get real-time help
    • I’ve even received help doing database work and cost-to-raise-a-dollar analysis!
  • helping me sell my fundraising book
    • I’m getting to connect with readers one-to-one
    • and tools like TweetLater help me automate some Twitter actions so I can focus on those in the evening. (I also write my blog posts in the evening but publish them so they get tweeted during the day.)
  • helping me connect with really cool people in the media and other professions, and
  • even helped me do goofy things like name my beers.

Twitter is really helping me expand my network from right here in Waterville, Maine USA. I now am in regular communication with people all over the world. I was already talking to people around the world with my fundraising ezine. But now they get to talk back to me. During the Olympics I was even tweeting with the NBC folks in China! Sure made the games seem a lot closer?

I’m going to pass this on to Chris. I’m not exactly sure it’s the “Twitter tutor” he was hoping for, but it’s a start!

What would you recommend he do if you were his Twitter tutor?

Ask Without Fear! sales strong

Ask Without Fear! A simple guide to connecting donors with what matters to them mostI once heard that the average book sells only about 500 copies. With the ease and variety of publishing options, and the ever-increasing number of bany books being published every year, this number seemed credible.

And as an author with a new book coming out, it was quite sobering. So I set a goal to sell 500 copies in my first year.

Today I get to say, “Thank you!”

My publisher just told me that Ask Without Fear! has sold 590 copies in it’s first four months!

With no major PR budget or ad push, I know this has been selling by word of mouth. Thanks for helping get the word out!

From the comments of readers, I know that the material in this book is:

  • helping “normal” people get excited about fundraising and, even better,
  • giving them the tools do it.

I know many of you have purchased a copy. And many more have recommended it to your friends. So once again, thank you!

[If you haven’t had the chance, would you encourage Starbucks to use “Ask Without Fear!” in a celebration of National Philanthropy Day? Just send an email to or read my blog post. ]