As a writer, I love books. I am surrounded by hundreds of books, ranging from history to cinema, technology to business processes. A glance at my shelves shows me some of my favorites, including Foucault’s Pendulum, Blood, Tears and Folly, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan.
Along with these favorites, though, there are always stacks of new books sent along by fellow authors, publicists and friends who are convinced I’ll really like a particular title. And, of course, I contribute to books too, either as a reader, editor or sometimes as the author of a foreword.
So here’s my short list of splendid books on my desk that I really need to sit down and read or re-read now that they’re published, along with an explanation of how I’m involved or what I find so interesting about them…
Blog Marketing: The Revolutionary New Way to Increase Sales, Build Your Brand, and Get Exceptional Results by Jeremy Wright (who runs the terrific Ensight weblog). This is a solid book for businesspeople to read if they’re ready to learn how blogging can help grow their businesses.
And, yes, I’m biased: I wrote the foreword for Jeremy, in which I said:
“The world of business is changing profoundly, redefining marketing, public relations, and customer communication, among other things. If you aren’t inviting this change into your own business, if you aren’t jumping no the bandwagon, your competitors are ,and I guarantee they’ll leave you in the dust wondering where your sales have gone and why your customers are deserting you in droves.”
“Wright talks extensively about “transmitting versus engaging” and “creating positive experiences with your customers” in Blog Marketing. Pay attention! They’re vital to your very survival as a business: I can offer you no greater advice than to read and study this book as if your corporate life depends upon it. Because it does.”
Yes, Jeremy’s book is that good.
Ina Steiner’s new book Turn eBay Data Into Dollars: Tools and Techniques to Make More Money on Every Transaction is in a different space, but it too is a splendid title, well worth the purchase for anyone who tries to sell their products or collectibles on eBay. Ina’s the editor of the great auction information site AuctionBytes and has been a highly visible part of the online auction community for many years.
In this case, I was pleased to serve as technical editor because, while I’m hardly an eBay power seller, I have always been quite fascinated by both the economics and day-to-day realities of eBay and the world of online auctions (indeed, it’s one of the companies Linda Sanford and I profile in our book Let Go To Grow).
There’s much to be learned about how to be a smart business in this book, even if you never get further than the eBay home page as an occasional buyer, issues of how to research your competition, how to judge “sellability” of your products, setting prices, calculating required margins, and when to partner with others rather than compete.
Turn eBay Data into Dollars is another book that’s well worth space on your bookshelf.
I also have an advance proof copy of blogger Andy Wibbels’ upcoming book Blog Wild: How Every Business Can Harness the Power of the Internet’s Most Explosive Marketing Tool and am just so delighted to see another short, succinct, easily accessible book for the business marketplace. It’s not a 400 page tome, it’s not a tour-de-force of research data and case studies, it’s a highly readable, breezy 165 page introduction to why a core group of us business and management types are so psyched about blogging and the opportunities it offers for better, smarter communication.
Andy’s the author of the popular blog resource Easy Bake Weblogs and just like Jeremy Wright, Andy’s been living and breathing the world of blogging for years and fully grasps both its strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, Andy’s not immune to Business Book Enumeration Syndrome, so he includes seven essential ingredients of a blockbuster blog, ten ways to boost your business with blogs, and five ways to get traffic for your blog. Personally, I find all these enumerated lists pretty amusing, and figure I must be missing a key businessperson gene because everyone else loves seven habits, twelve steps, three key ideas, and, um, one partridge in a pear tree too.
An honorable mention on this list is the new book Navigating the Growth Curve, a mystery novel that revolves around entrepreneurship and the role and tasks of a CEO. Here’s the book’s synopsis:
“Peter Logan has just been fired from his dream job and then a call comes informing him of his brother Alan’s death. Alan’s widow wants Peter to take the helm at a startup company Alan founded. Peter discovers the company is in chaos and his brother’s leadership style was a bit unconventional. Can he save the company? Can he gain the trust of the employees? Can he move the firm to the next level of growth? These are the questions facing new CEO Peter Logan in James Fischer’s newly released business novel, “Navigating the Growth Curve.”
Oh, and even in the novel format, the Business Book Enumeration Syndrome rears its head, with seven stages of growth and nine fundamentals of business!
More seriously, this book is worth checking out just for its production values, if nothing else. It’s beautiful, with a lovely layout, very high quality paper, nice use of color, interesting photographs and visuals and splendid writing. It’s a rarity in the business press, a book that’s just as aesthetically pleasing as it is informative and interesting.
There are more books on my shelves that I haven’t yet delved into, and I feel a bit guilty about it, but y’know what? If you have something you think I’d enjoy reading, please don’t hesitate to send me a copy. And if I can ever help you with a book project of your own, well, it’s not hard to track down my email address and drop me a note.
But let’s end this with what Jeremy would probably call a probing question: What great books have you read lately and why do you recommend them to others?