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Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century

We are very pleased to announce that our book, Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century, has an official publication date, November 1, 2006!

We could not be happier with what we're seeing.

Stefan Sagmeister is creating an innovative look for the book, a look we love -- a design which is eye-grabbing and completely original while facilitating and deepening the reader's experience. Dan Tucker and the team at Sideshow Media are doing a stunning job of finding powerful images to illustrate the solutions we cover (which, when you're telling as many relatively unknown stories as we are, becomes a harder task than you might think).

If you've been a long-time, regular WorldChanging reader, some of what we cover in the book will be at least familiar ground, but much of it is brand-new material, and all of it is presented with a depth of focus that we have rarely had the time and resources to accomplish on this site. We think you'll find it a compelling, useful guide to some of the most interesting new and emerging tools, models and ideas for changing the world.

The book is divided into eight chapters:

  • You (which presents introductory materials and covers basic approaches for changing our thinking and designing our lives to be more worldchanging);

  • Stuff (which covers topics like green design, biomimicry, sustainable food, clothing, trade and technology);

  • Shelter (covering topics like green building and landscaping, clean energy, water, disaster relief and humanitarian design);

  • Cities (topics like smart growth, sustainable communities, transportation, greening infrastructure, product-service systems, leapfrogging and megacity challenges);

  • Communities (topics like education, women's rights, public health, holistic approaches to community development, South-South science, social entrepreneurship and micro-lending, and philanthropy);

  • Business (topics like socially responsible investment, worldchanging start-ups, ecological economics, corporate social responsibility and green business);

  • Politics (topics like networked politics, new media, transparency, human rights, non-violent revolution and peacemaking);

  • Planet (the big picture -- everything from placing oneself in a bioregion to climate foresight to environmental history to green space exploration).
  • There will also be a variety of informational tools, including a glossary, bibliography, index and companion webpages here on WorldChanging (so we can keep resources up to date, etc.). Bruce Sterling wrote a kick-ass introduction, and we hope to soon be able to announce some big news about the foreword.

    It's a big book (608 pages), with thousands of ideas, resources for further learning and suggestions for action. We hope it'll have a real impact. We're already looking at how to do a different kind of book tour -- one which is more about connecting worldchanging people and spreading good tools than it is about doing readings and signings (we'll be looking for help planning this, if you have ideas and/or time to help) -- and our publisher, Harry N. Abrams, seems to get what Worldchanging is all about, and are supportive of using this book as an opportunity to spread tools for making change. They're certainly committed to the project: they've announced an initial print run of 200,000 books.

    Putting this book together was a tough sprint, with only five months between starting the project and turning it in. We can't thank all of you enough. Writers did excellent work on insanely tight deadlines. Readers contributed great ideas and leads. Everyone was cheerful and enthusiastic and supportive, and that made a nearly-impossible project happen. You guys are extraordinary. You are worldchanging. Thank you.

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    Congratulations on achieving this goal. I look forward to reading it!

    Now, as to another goal, it seems appropriate to post the following here because a) it is the most recent post, and b) the book is relevant..

    So, a pledge:

    "I will contribute $500 US to the WorldChanging fund but only if 4 other people (or groups) will too."

    Come on, folks. It only takes another four!

    Posted by: Tony Fisk on 11 Apr 06

    From one graphic design firm to whoever created this cover, there's only one word...

    (Rudy Rucker reference.)

    Posted by: David Lankshear on 11 Apr 06

    Wow, looks gorgeous!

    One thing - how has is the book been printed? At the risk of sounding like a eco-printing fascist, I really, really, really, would like a Worldchanging Book like this to be printed using a world changing sustainable process.

    Of course, I have no idea of the up front cost implications of doing this, but I'd hazard a guess that I would be joined by a fair few people who would buy this book would spend the extra (within reason).

    Can't wait to read it!

    Posted by: Chris Adams on 11 Apr 06

    Tony: thank you so much, that rocks.

    Chris: we do not yet have a commitment from the publisher about precisely how ecologically-minded the printing and distribution will be, but they're exploring a bunch of really cutting-edge options and, I assume, figuring out what they can actually afford. I do very much get the sense that they want to do the right thing, though, and hopefully we'll be able to announce the specs soon...

    Posted by: Alex Steffen on 11 Apr 06

    Might I suggest ... a lesson from else where in the webworld ...

    Solicit 'pre-orders' here (seek 10,000???) -- without having to give commissions to Amazon / elsewhere -- with some target number with a special 'pre-publication' with a page or so insert recognizing the pre-order community and send it out a couple weeks ahead of 'formal' publication.

    Would enable earning some cash (to facilitate a book tour?) ... provide a 'non-traditional' path toward building up buzz re the work ... I -- and likely others who come here -- frequently write book reviews (and not 'just' on Amazon -- but in 'formal' publications) ... Doing this might just get you some more buzz ...

    A thought ...

    Posted by: Adam on 11 Apr 06

    Dear Tony,

    I didn't use, but I contributed more than the amount you cite. Does that count?

    Posted by: David Foley on 11 Apr 06

    Thanks David!

    Posted by: Alex Steffen on 11 Apr 06

    David, good for you!

    If you check the pledge details, I do suggest that people who have already donated (ie prior to April 11) not sign the pledge (as its a sort of 'come-on'!)

    (update: 1 down, 3 to go!)

    Posted by: Tony Fisk on 11 Apr 06

    Congratz on the book. I look forward to some good reading in 2007!

    Posted by: Chris Albon on 11 Apr 06

    I agree pre-orders would be nice.

    Are you doing anything special with a license for the text of the book (e.g. creative commons attribution-sharealike)? I'm not suggesting any particular license (or the use of default copyright), just curious...

    Posted by: Taco Buitenhuis on 12 Apr 06

    Based on the design you have (the slip case and the color work) chances are the book will be printed and assembled in China (under unknown conditions) and then shipped back to the US for distribution. If you're serious about sustainability you might consider sacrificing the admittedly cool design for greener, and more local, printing methods.

    Posted by: Alex on 12 Apr 06

    Looks like a tremendous resource. I wonder if the communities section, or any other section, makes any reference to religion & spirituality? Though its not fashionable to speak of religion in socially-oriented work, to ignore it is to ignore one of the strongest motivating factors in many people's lives. There are many religious and interfaith groups working on green issues, such as,,,, and on and on.

    Posted by: Stephen A. Fuqua on 12 Apr 06

    Congrats on getting the book done! I can't wait to hold a copy (or two) in my hands.

    Posted by: Michael G. Richard on 13 Apr 06

    Wow, looks really nice. However, as I understand your ethos to be somewhat environmentally "green" I wonder about the wisdom of having that sleeve which the book slides into. Isn't it just an unnecessary over-use of the humble tree?

    Still though, I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of it & reading it cover to cover!

    Posted by: CleverGirl on 13 Apr 06

    Can it be preordered?

    Posted by: Taran on 14 Apr 06

    Thanks for the great comments, everyone!

    There will be preordering opportunities, and we are doing everything we can to encourage as many sustainable practices around the actual production of the book as possible. Stay tuned!

    Posted by: Alex Steffen on 14 Apr 06

    Fabulous Design! Aesthetics are "holy" in a good sense. I would be great if you could post "teasers" (for a minimul cost/say $15 bucks per PDF) along the way this year. I was so impressed with the design team , I've recommened them to a client!

    Regarding contributions, I would be more inclined to make a contribution if you offered a portion of that contribution to be contributed to a set of causes that have a mission match with your organization. (see as an example of cause based giving)

    Please keep up the great work. It makes a difference.

    Posted by: Reynolds-Anthony Harris on 16 Apr 06

    Here's a how-to to make it a carbon neutral publication.


    Seriously: if this publication cannot be CO2 neutral, then I don't know.


    Posted by: serge de Gheldere on 17 Apr 06

    Serge (and others) -- trust me, the publishers have gotten the memo on all the ecological aspects of publishing, and seem receptive. We can't ourselves promise anything (these choices are ultimately theirs) but we are certainly advocating for a bright green book!

    Posted by: Alex Steffen on 18 Apr 06

    Here are two examples of great pre-pub sales and marketing for progressive political books. Their marketing strategies may be of real use here.

    We're also definitely for advocating a bright green book. And also getting it out there prior to publication so it creates lots of buzz, orders, readers, and activists.

    All the best!

    How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok, by Glenn Greenwald, Working Assets Publishing, 2006

    Currently #3 in Amazon sales -- and it hasn't even been released yet.


    Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics, by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (Kos from DailyKos), Chelsea Green, 2006

    Currently #33 in Amazon sales.

    A bit from Kos:


    Posted by: Peter+Trudy Johnson-Lenz on 28 Apr 06



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