Category Archives: Book Column

Anything You Want – Book Review

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers BookCoverDerek Sivers’ Anything You Want is a quick read. It comes in under an hour if you don’t take notes and don’t stop to think about things. But I am guessing you will want to as there a some pretty inspirational (and easy to implement) ideas for serving your customers.

This is not a how-to business book. It is much more a manifesto on keeping things clear, simple and taking a common sense approach to work. Sivers, founded and sold This book is a summation of the lessons he learned with the stories that taught him.

My favorite part is titled Ideas are just a multiplayer of Execution. Basically he says an awful idea gets a -1 rating while a brilliant idea gets a 20. “No execution” is worth $1 while “brilliant execution” is worth $10,000,000. So a brilliant idea with poor execution will only get you $20 while a weak idea (a full 1 rating) brilliantly executed would get you $10,000,000. These are the extremes and there are tiers between them. It gives you an idea of where your so-so idea with a so-so execution plan would land you. I really like the perspective this lends.

Lots of practical advice here. It’s the kind you’d get if you were sitting in the back yard drinking a beer with Sivers. He’s quick to explain, in very plain images, why (to him) legal stuff just doesn’t matter and how business folks don’t stay clear-headed enough. You will not hear these kinds of points being made by any MBA.

Basically he sums it up with keep the customer first. You better be solving a real problem. And the success will naturally happen.

In such a small book, Sivers crams tons of insight on work ethic, customers (very important), business formalities vs. flying by the seat of your pants, etc. all of which is backed with stories of his founding, running and selling He even tells the story of when Steve Jobs dissed him.

This book seems to speak to the entrepreneurial spirits out there. But I also think that it serves as a fun quick “gut check” for those looking to tweak their existing business set-ups. I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

A Typesetter Made World’s First Audio Recording

In 1860, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville was a typesetter (and possibly a bookseller) in Paris. He also liked to tinker, which lead him down the path of making the world’s first audio recording, using his printing tools and knowledge.

autophonograph or autophonogramPrinting and imprinting is something Scott understood very well. Capturing the song in 10 second visually-printed snippets must not have been too difficult, once he figured it out. The problem was he didn’t know how to play back what he’d recorded!

He printed all of the “grooves”, using his phonautograph on rag paper,  but no phonautograph-reader has been found.

So modern-day scientists had to cook up a way to sight-read the recordings, to what I think are pretty nifty (and spooky) sounding results.

This scenario doesn’t sound too different from today as people in the music, movie, book, web and mobile fields are crossing lines, mashing up tools and pushing boundaries to make new books and products. I just think it’s neat that the first audio recording ever made was actually printed on paper.

Typography and Instagram

The folks over at We Love Typography are mobilizing the world’s font faithful in a very cool new project mapping cool fonts around the world. To participate all you have to do is have the iOS Instagram app installed, have geotagging turned ‘on’, snap a pic and upload it with the tag #wlt or #welovetype. Then the crawlers will grab it an place it on the correct place on this Google Map.

Typography World Google Map

No doubt it’s going to get crowded fast. But it’s a great idea.

There are also two new FREE iOS apps for font and type geeks:

Fontli iconFontli, has an Instagram-feel, and is trying to build a social network around fonts. The idea being that you could submit a snap shot of some type and your virtual rolodex of font-ish friends could help you identify it. Also, there is…


FontMaker IconFontmaker, which lets you create your own font variations to use in text messaging and emails sent from your mobile device. Not super-useful, but I could see where some would get a kick out of throwing in some random ligatures and letter forms.


Michael Chabon’s New Book

Chabon’s next book Telegraph Avenue doesn’t come out until September of this year, but Harper Collins did release the final cover a couple of days ago, via their catalog site. I wonder how many revisions they went through before everyone agreed on the red and the label was just retro enough… very cool! The blurb they offered up on the site:

The fictional world of Telegraph Avenue is grounded in Chabon’s deeply researched, lovingly painted pop culture of Kung Fu, Blaxploitation films of the ’70s, Jazz, and Soul.

This is one book that I can not wait to read this year.

Telegraph Avenue Cover