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Classifieds are next

When was the last time you looked up the price of a stock in the newspaper?

Ramit Sethi reports that the Wall Street Journal reports that the LA Times is cutting the size of their stock tables.

About time.

What an anachronism. I wrote about this more than five years ago… the stock tables generate no revenue and no readership. One paper in Newark decreased the size of their stock tables by 90% (!), lost a dozen or so subscribers and saved more than a million dollars a year.

Now, the question is, "when was the last time you looked something up in the classifieds of your newspaper?"

Every organization is filled with vestigal activities, sacred cows that feel as though they must be defended. We defend them at our peril… do it too long, and the whole thing is gone.

Woot + CEO Reads = Free books

Jack and Todd bring us: InBubbleWrap.

Believe it or not, I won my first try.

Symbols and faces

TwoeyesSarah Dopp points us to a Korean site she’s obsessed with.

Humans respond to faces more than any other image. Do something to a face and it becomes magnetic.

Something this simple could spread very fast and very far. Almost like a pretty bad science fiction movie, but real. I know that I have an almost irresistible urge to cover one eye now… I just can’t decide which one.

What’s that?

Just had dinner with my dad and his high school buddies. One is college-educated (Dartmouth), a very successful professional. And he’s about seventy.

On the way out the door, he asked, "What’s an MP3?"

Before you decide that everyone knows something (or no one does), take a second to realize that you’re wrong.

The New Face of Big Ideas (a contest)


Here are nine Big Moo authors.

The first person to identify all of them, in order, by email, will receive a signed copy of The Big Moo (well, signed by more than half of us, anyway). No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Contest expires December 1, 2005. Send your entries to me

[We have a winner! It took just a few minutes. Amazing. Congrats to Sean Johnson. They are, left to right, Polly, Dean, Tim, Chris, Heath, Kevin, Promise, Red and April.

Holy smokes you guys are good. No surprise.]

Desktop coffins

Acland finds the next big thing down under (six feet).

Coffins that make a statement. Why not? Acland Brierty…Designer coffins.

On pricing

Twenty years ago, I participated in some pricing meetings on my new line of computer games. In the room were two Stanford MBAs, two Harvard MBAs and someone from Kellogg, I think. How did we decide between $24.95, $29.95 or $34.95?

We flipped a coin.

But we were scientific about it. A single elimination ladder, best of three.

Pricing has always been a combination of economics and marketing and luck. My hero Joel Spolsky (best engineer who knows how to write) has a piece on this at Joel on Software.

The thing is, I disagree with him.

Pricing is a very effective signaling device, no doubt about it. People (and businesses) assume that good stuff is worth more. People pay for stuff on eBay for stuff based on the velocity of the auction instead of the innate value of the item. Real estate brokers warn you that a house that doesn’t sell right away is hard to sell because people look at a house that’s been on the market for a few months differently. All irrational and all based on signaling.

The reason that lousy movies cost the same as blockbuster movies, though, doesn’t have to do with signalling. (the fear is that people won’t go to cheap movies because the cheap price will tell them it is a lousy movie). Of course, this isn’t what happens with DVD sales. They sell plenty of really cheap DVDs that you never heard of… for a lot less than the new Star Wars Movie. No, the pricing of movies has to do with industry traditions and being stuck. It’s just too hard to get everything in alignment and for all the players to say okay.

Which leads to the current debate over how much Apple should charge for iTunes. 99 cents a song is a great signal. It tells the purchaser that this is somehow "fair."

The record companies want to charge MORE for hot hits, though. The thing is, this will mean raising the average price, because for every song they sell for $2, don’t expect a lot of songs to cost five cents.

Which leads us to the wisdom of Jeff Bezos. There are two kinds of companies, Jeff says. Companies that work to lower prices (like Amazon, most of the time) and companies that work to raise prices (like the music industry, all of the time).

Making fun of ticketmaster is of course…

too easy, because the site is so so broken.

But the two frogs are off to an auspicious start. Link: Frog Review: Ticketmaster.

PS Frog 1 says he wants to remain anonymous, but if you’ve ever met him, the voice is a pretty big giveaway. These MIT guys never lose the nerdy accent.

The thing about giving blood

At least for me, is that you always get more than you give.

Even if you don’t count the apple juice or fig newtons.

First, it’s about overcoming a basic primal fear
Second, you need to meditate while doing it. You really can’t take a phone call.

Here’s a neat idea: salesblood.org. Thanks, Sam.

Not what it used to be

A door to door salesman just walked into our offices in Irvington.

Tough job.

A job usually reserved for people selling advertising or janitorial services.

This was an assistant Vice President at Citibank. He’s wandering the halls, door by door, trying to sell business checking accounts.

Clearly, all that marble, all those tellers and all that advertising is not enough to meet aggressive growth targets.

Once your business becomes a commodity, you can struggle or you can re-invent. I consider door-to-door selling to be struggling.