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Business Models Illustrated

The new <em>Business Model Generation</em> book uses creative visuals to break down business models into nine building blocks.

Don't let the title fool you. Business Model Generation is worthy of a place on your coffee table. The 288-page "handbook for visionaries, game changers and challengers" is filled with photography, artwork and trendy design.

Authors Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur use the creative visuals to explain how to break down business models into nine building blocks--elements such as partnerships, revenue streams and key resources--and how to re-imagine them to reflect the changing times.

"The lines between industries are blurring, and a lot of new models are emerging," says Osterwalder, an expert on business model design and innovation. "It's time for a better unit of analysis and a joint language to describe a process that every company goes through."

Business Model Generation doesn't just preach innovation, it puts it into practice: Osterwalder and Pigneur elicited insight for the book from more than 470 "co-creators" from 45 countries. Each paid a small sum--$24 to $243--to participate in the idea exchange, which partially financed the initial print run of 5,000 copies. The books sold out in eight weeks, and the project now funds itself.

The lesson? Says Osterwalder, "We demonstrated that even for an independently published book, you can think of an innovative business model to make it work."

No arguments here. Based on the waiting list, a current, second print run of 10,000 is expected to sell out, and plans for a third are gearing up. Grab yours (if you can) on Amazon or at; $46.99 hardcover, and $34.99 paperback.

This story appears in the April 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »