My Summer Business Book List

ML Jul 11, 2006

Well, it’s a new topic for the HitTail blog, but I figured I’d post it here instead of my personal blog, because of how it relates to my experience reading Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail.

Reading Chris’ book has stimulated me to fill in my “must-read” business books. As anybody knows who watched the demo, I’m a big Chasm fan, and have an original 1991 edition of Crossing The Chasm that mentions the Amiga Computer in the intro as a an example of a computer that was better than the Mac in its heyday, but failed to cross the chasm. I wonder if the intro still mentions the Amiga, or if the PC history revisionists have gotten to Moore. Anyway, it’s finally time I picked up Inside the Tornado. I mention it enough.

Speaking of the Amiga, I discovered a book that I knew was coming for awhile, but lost interest by the time it did. Well, I’m finally picking up On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore by Brian Bagnall. I figured I’d read the book about how the unsung hero, Jack Tramiel, was the one who truly ushered in the home computer market with the most popular single model home computer of all time–the Commodore 64–before Steve Jobs’ fanboys figure out a way to permanently erase it from all our memories. Yes, remember that little gray box that was everywhere? Funny how it’s never credited for the role that it played, isn’t it? We’ll know we’re in trouble when the Wikipedia entries get wiped out.

Next, comes Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and the notion of epidemics. Finally time I read it, as I’ve been mentioning it enough. It’s funny that the original research behind this is in the same vein as The Bell Curve, from the mid-90’s, a controversial book to explain the dumbing-down of America, and consolidation of wealth & power among the intelligent-few. My understanding is that the original notion behind tipping points referred to neighborhoods “turning”. Gladwell’s book applied broader application in business. Anyway, I keep getting reminded of it by all the Gladwell mentions in Valleywag.

The next one is out of print, and hard to find in any bookstores, but I got it on Amazon. Similarly, I’ve been referring to Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion, and his book Influence, forever, but never really read it. Time to remedy that. If you ever wondered why marketing principles used in Infomercials bordered on mind control, this is the book for you. Cialdini went “under cover” in such industries to help distil down the fundamental components of what it takes to make a person do something. It’s the sort of mojo I need to get HitTail firing on all cylinders.

I don’t have as much to say about the rest of the books on my recent acquisition list, suffice to say I know I have to read them. This includes The Art of The Start, by one of my favorite guys, Guy Kawasaki. Next is Freakonomics, which I know nothing about, except that I have to read it. Same goes for Guns, Germs, and Steel and Out of Control. Well, that’s about it. I’m already reading The Wisdom of Crowds.

A funny thing occurred to me while writing this blog post. First, I realize that the proper treatment is to underline the names of books. Second, I can’t bring myself to do that if it’s not a weblink. And I know I COULD link every book title back to Amazon thereby killing 2 birds with one stone, but don’t feel like doing that extra bit of work in just getting the post out. This is loaded with thoughts. Has the Web altered what underlined text means in general? Has the psychological need to underline AND hyperlink book titles contributed to Amazon’s success? Hmmmmm.

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