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January 31, 2009

News & Opinion: Why A Book? - Part I

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:45 AM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

This is the question every journalist has asked us in their interviews about The 100 Best.

Jack and I normally get about one sentence to answer. The internet allows more space for the proper respsonse.

Q: Why a Book?

A: Because the books still matter and they produce a different result.

There are a number of routes we could have gone with this project. A simple email with the 100 books could have gotten readers talking. People love lists.

We could have blogged our favorite books and created a couple of ChangeThis manifestos with some clever category slices. My top five books for executives post got a lot of traction and generated some great comments. Josh Kaufman's Personal MBA manifesto has been hugely popular.

Writing a book requires a different level of concentration, both internally and externally. It is not good enough to challenge your co-worker with the five books she'd bring with her to a desert island. Choosing and describing in the right terms 100 titles is a different task. Writing a book gives you the motivation and the impetus to do that work. I am not saying we couldn't do this without a publisher's deadline, just that it helps.

It is the same way a publisher signing the project helps. They sign projects they think are going can be commercially successful. That eye can help a book find a larger audience. You also get the sales, distribution, and production capabilities. Those still matter too.

Don't think we aren't going to write the email and manifestos I described at the start as well as a dozen other things. We just think writing a book makes the end result better.


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.