ISBN 9781400063918 Published June 2008
Random House (NY)
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Posted Dec. 31, 2008 4:22 a.m. by kate
In Book Reviews - 800 CEO Read Blog
With the end of the year comes reflection on the highs and lows. This week three more rankings of the best of business books were published. The lists of Gary H. Rawlins from USA Today, Richard Pachter from the Miami Herald, and the readers of ASTD.
From these three lists and the lists of days past (Todd's picks, our awards, Roxanne J. Coady's and Business Pundit's), these are the reigning and often appearing good reads of the business book section from 2008.
- The Game Changer by A. G. Lafley and Ram Charan
- A Sense of Urgency by John Kotter
- The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam
- The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink, the first manga business book. You'll see more manga next year.
- Tribes by Seth Godin
- Art Kleiner's The Age of Heretics, a new edition and a complete history of business thinkers.
- Buying In by Rob Walker.
- Crowdsourcing (I interviewed Jeff earlier this year.)
- The Snowball on Warren Buffett's life.
What's on your list of best of from this year?
Happy New Year. Goodbye 2008. Welcome 2009.
Fast Company's Best of 2008
Posted Dec. 2008 3:32 a.m. by dylan
In Uncategorized - 800 CEO Read Blog
Fast Company chose its business books of the year last week. David Lidsky wrote the copy, stating:
The titles that follow run the gamut of what Fast Company covers: Innovation, creativity, design, sustainability, technology, advertising and marketing, global business, and entertainment. The theme running through them is that new ideas are the lifeblood of business, and the process of finding and sharing new ideas is essential to success.
And the books chosen were:
The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas With Pictures by Dan Roam, Portfolio (Jack Covert Selects) The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr, W.W. Norton Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker, Random House (Jack Covert Selects) Earth: The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming by Fred Krupp & Miriam Horn, W.W. Norton Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently by Gregory Berns, Random House IDEO Eyes Open Series: New York & London by Fred Dust and IDEO, Chronicle Books The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company by David A. Price, Knopf (Jack Covert Selects) Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman & Rom Brafman, Doubleday (Jack Covert Selects) The White Tiger: A Novel by Aravind Adiga, Simon & Schuster X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking by Jeff Gordinier, Penguin Group
With a novel and a set of travel books, it looks like kind of a quirky list, but I find it intriguing. For example,writing of their pick of The White Tiger, they explain:
You could read 200 non-fiction books on India, its hypergrowth, and its impact on society and the world, and none will sear images and voices into your brain the way Adiga's Booker Prize-winning debut novel does. Its narrator, Balram Halwai, tells the story of his own bootstrapping rise from a poverty-stricken youth to entrepreneurial success in the country's high-tech sector.
Their explanation of the IDEO travel guides making a business book list is a bit more tenuous, but they are great books.
Consumer or Consumed? BusinessWeek reviews two books about brands
Posted June 27, 2008 6:27 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
In Marketing - 800 CEO Read Blog
Yesterday Dylan did a nice job of summing up the latest reviews and discussions about business books in business magazines. Sometimes it's hard for us to keep up with everything, so here's one from a few weeks ago.
In the June 19 issue of BusinessWeek, writer Susan Berfield reviewed two books that "explore the question of whether brands control us, or vice versa": Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker, and Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and the Business of Illusion by Lucas Conley. (Image source=BusinessWeek.com)
Here's a snippet from the article:
My girl's request [for a Go-Gurt in her lunch]--fleeting, trivial, and unrepeated--nonetheless says something profound about our high-impact, omni-consuming culture. But what? Is she--are we all--just easy marks? Or is there a more complex dynamic between the marketer and the mark? Rob Walker, the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, argues for the latter view. Walker, who writes the "Consumed" column in The New York Times Magazine, offers a sophisticated and sometimes lighthearted take on how consumers interact with brands, defining and controlling them as companies struggle to keep up. By contrast, Lucas Conley, a contributing writer for Fast Company, takes a grimmer view. His book, Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and The Business of Illusion, is a bleak assessment of how defenseless we are against ad creep, as he calls it.
Check out the BusinessWeek article to see which perspective Berfield tends to agree with more.
Jack Covert Selects - Buying In
Posted June 12, 2008 5:18 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker, Random House, 291 pages, $25.00, Hardcover, June 2008, ISBN 9781400063918
Standing in the condiments aisle of the grocery store, shoppers are confronted by bottle after bottle of similar items. There is any number of considerations we mull over regarding what we ultimately place in our carts. Those of us on a diet make different choices than do those of us on a budget, for example. Do you buy the store brand mustard, the Grey Poupon or the one produced locally? In Buying In, Rob Walker shows us how, through this simple act of choosing, we reveal the irony of advertising. Most of us would say that we make our choices based on our needs, because we are capable of seeing through the hype promoted by the various companies' crack marketing teams. But, even if we choose the economical store brand, for instance, we are still making a symbolic statement about what is important to us.
Since the turn of the century, many trend watchers and marketing gurus have declared the age of the advertiser and its lockstep consumers dead. New technology does allow consumers more selectivity and the opportunity to block out advertising messages. But, based on his experience writing the "Consumed" column for The New York Times Magazine, Rob Walker thinks these pundits are quite wrong. Yes, there has been a change in marketing, but consumers are as susceptible to a company's message as ever because marketers have changed tactics as we have become less affected by their old ones.
To reveal the secret dialogue taking place between company and consumer, Walker says the first task is to crack the "Desire Code"--the reasoning behind our decisions as consumers. Then we must see through the haze created by "Murketing," Walker's "shorthand description of the practices of certain brand managers who aimed to blur the rules of the traditional sales pitch--to make marketing more murky" (78). And finally, we must become aware of just how susceptible we still are to the power of branding and the "Invisible Badges" that we wear as a result of our choices. In a society where desire has replaced need much of the time, Walker asserts that the ethics of our consumption is the new power player in this new age of marketing.
Walker's writing is relaxed, and the stories entertaining and relatable. But don't let the casual dress fool you. The information Walker covers will open your eyes to the unconscious consumerism that we all participate in. There is no "good versus evil" in Walker's book, just a message that "if there is one thing we really ought to be 'in control' of, it's our own behavior" (214).
Buying In, In the Press
Posted June 6, 2008 7:44 a.m. by dylan
In Uncategorized - 800 CEO Read Blog
Since posting links to an excerpt and review of Rob Walker's book Buying In on Monday, two more reviews have come to my attention--both more in depth than the first and both terrific. One is from Salon, and was published on Tuesday, so you can understand why it wasn't included in the original post. The review from TIME Magazine? Well... I just plain missed that when it was published in May, but it's well worth the read if you missed it as well. In it, TIME's Andrea Sachs describes the book succinctly in the second paragraph:
With a compelling blend of cultural anthropology and business journalism, he makes us fess up about our dependence on brand-name products and explains our nearly irresistible urge to use what we buy to broadcast our identities.
Witty and insightful, Laura Miller's review in Salon shows that she really grasps the material, especially near the end of the article when she contrasts Walker's book with Snoop, a book with a similar theme of less caliber. While looking through future releases a few months back to see what we should be looking forward to, a coworker and I made the same connection and distinction between the books. It's not that Snoop is bad, it's that Buying In is that good (it probably helps that Walker writes for a living, while Snoop author Sam Gosling is a psychology professor).
If you'd like some samples of Rob's writing before picking up the book, you can read an original essay at Powells.com, a manifesto at ChangeThis, and an excerpt from the book itself from FastCompany. You can also find the archive of his work for The New York Times Magazine at his blog, which, you know, you can also read.