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August 23, 2004

News & Opinion: Or Why So Many Business Books Are Awful

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:17 PM – Filed under: Publishing Industry

Kevin Dugan from Strategic Public Relations sent me a link to The Economist's article "How 51 Gorillas Can Make You Seriously Rich (or Or Why So Many Business Books Are Awful)".
The article takes on just about everyone in biz book publishing. The jabs range from "Many [books] appear to be little more than expanded PowerPoint presentations..." to "put an animal in the title—gorillas, fish and purple cows are in vogue this year". Like all forms of media, there is good and bad content. Business books aren't any different.
The last paragraph start with, "It is hard to believe that many managers run their businesses differently as a result of their reading." I think if people pick-up and read a business book they are looking for an answer. Readers have some question in their head. Many times the question is, "Am I doing the right things?" They are looking for confirmation of their beliefs. Others read with the question, "Is there anything new I should know?" This is a more powerful question that recognizes the need for the updating of one's beliefs. The minority are reading business books because they feel they need to change something.
I think The Economist is right in saying that most managers don't change how they run their companies as the result of reading a book. I don't think that is the purpose for reading business books.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.