What makes a business book great
by Josh Bernoff
Seth Godin says you should buy and read business books. Shockingly enough, I agree.
Yes, they are indeed the cheapest training you can get.
The thing I find interesting is the high degree of variability. There are three axes on which you can evaluate a business book:
1. Ideas. Does it have good ideas? A book without ideas is a catalog. May be good stuff in there, but it's hard to remember.
2. Real-world examples. Godin calls some of these books "overwritten brochures." Yup. It takes real research, which is work, to get examples to back up your ideas. One of my younger colleagues asked me today if the book was already written. If it was just words, sure, we could be done by now. It's the research that takes the time, but makes the book relevant.
3. Readability. Is it enjoyable to read? If not, I can see why people have trouble getting through it -- you should eat your vegetables, but not everybody wants to.
Many books do one or two of these well. Very few do all three. To change the world you need all three -- and changing the world, or at least how people think, is what makes a book catch fire.
The Tipping Point, The Long Tail, The Ultimate Question, and just about anything by Seth Godin are good on all three and they sell like mad. In fact, even if your examples are weak, if your storytelling is strong (and you're good at promoting) you'll do well.
All Charlene and I want is to be this good. A modest ambition.