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Posted Feb. 8, 2009 3:32 p.m. by todd-sattersten
In 100 Best - 800 CEO Read Blog
There are only a few people in the media who know business books as well as Jack and I. Hardy Green, an associate editor at BusinessWeek, is one of those people.
We met with Hardy in New York two weeks ago and he quickly commenced with critiquing our selections for The 100 Best. He has also written a great piece for BusinessWeek.com titled, "What Makes a 'Best' Business Book?" that captures his thoughts on the omissions and gaffes in the book.
The way we see it Green's argument is two-fold.
His first criticism is that we have overlooked too many histories and narratives; the most glaring omissions being Barbarians at the Gate by Burrough and Heylar and Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis. He points out the imbalance between the 21 books in the categories of biographies, narratives, and "big ideas" to the 29 management titles when he combines our strategy, leadership, and management chapters.
His second point is one of recency. He asks, "What about something like The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty by Julia Flynn Siler (Gotham Books, 2007)? What about entries on Silicon Valley or the digital world, such as Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know by Randall Stross (Free Press, 2008)?," His preference for more current titles seems to speak to his perspective as an editor at weekly business magazine.
We love the work Green does for the business book category, but we obviously disagree.
First, he seems to overlook books we've included within other chapters when he tallies the count of narratives versus management manuals. Contained within our entrepreneurship chapter is the wonderful incubation story of The Republic of Tea . Or sitting squarely in the leadership chapter is the GE history Control Your Destiny Or Someone Else Will by Tichy and Sherman. Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? by former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner appears in our strategy chapter. The Tipping Point, Why We Buy, and Orbiting the Giant Hairball also all fulfill Green's hope for books promoting a more thoughtful synthesis of business.
In fact, we could provide Green with even more titles that could have been included if we were to have used his criteria. How about Father, Son, and Company by Thomas Watson Jr.? Or Charles Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect? Or Typo, the wonderful and woeful tale of David Silverman's adventure trying to revive a typesetting company in rural Iowa. All would have been wonderful additions--and they are in the book. We recommended these and 292 other books as further reading at the end of the reviews and in sidebars sprinkled throughout the book.
In regards to his request for more current titles, Green surely knows publishing well enough to know that this book was finished almost a year ago, months before the current economic mess. If we were to update the book today, we would love to recommend the Michael Lewis edited compilation Panic to our readers. And we may have looked past some accessibility problems to suggest Nassim Nicholas Taleb and either his Fooled by Randomness or The Black Swan.
Many of the narratives Green would like to see more of have a short shelf-life given the speed as which the world moves. Do we still have the same interest in Ebay or Starbucks that we had a few years ago? We solved this problem by producing an online chapter of industry narratives for which the sidebar on page 262 is a jumping-off point. Barbarians at the Gate appears in this additional section along with Where The Suckers Moon, The Box, Oil on The Brain, and Better. We feel the selections show both ingenuity and recency and exist in an online form that is more easily updated.
All this leads to a bigger point: You can't solve all of the problems of business with 100 books. The scope and variety of challenges, both personal and organizational, require a larger inventory of titles. Of course, we needed to make tough decisions about what was included in The 100 Best and we'll be judged--by Hardy Green and others--on our taste and discernment, but the structure and format of the book clearly shows our hope that by reading our book you will be encouraged to read more business books.
Maybe, after reading the review of a book you are familiar with, you will read the additional books we recommend. Or maybe you'll choose your own adventure by following a 'Where To Next?', jump to a book you never expected...and read it. Or maybe you'll become so enraged that we have overlooked one of your favorites that you go back and read it again to ensure its position in your personal 100 Best. In any of these instances, our book will have accomplished its task.
If you are interested in continuing the disucssion, jump over to BusinessWeek and leave your thoughts with the others already there.
Today is the Day
Posted Feb. 5, 2009 5:25 p.m. by todd-sattersten
In 100 Best - 800 CEO Read Blog
Jack and I have been working on an idea for about two years. We thought it made sense to put our knowledge about business books into a book of our own.
We are going to "ask for the order". What I mean is that you have been a follower of 800-CEO-READ for any period of time, you know what we are about: we sell business books and promote great ideas.
Our book is our best effort yet at helping you find the books solutions to the problems and challenges you face, while presenting opportunities you may not have considered before.
We want each of you to buy a copy of The 100 Best.
You can also order it from us. You'll pay the full retail price of 25.95, but you will get a bag of extras that are only available through 800-CEO-READ:
- You'll received a shiny, hardcover of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time autographed by both Jack and Todd
- We will include a copy of "Conversations about The 100 Best Business Books of All Time". This is an audio CD that Jack and I did, which has 12 tracks, each about 6 minutes in length, where we talk about the books and the key concepts in each of the chapters of The 100 Best.
- You will receive a copy of In The Books 2008, our annual publication whose purpose is to highlight the best of the year in the genre of business books.
- After placing your order, we will email you "the lost chapter" from The 100 Best (it was not really lost, we ran out of room in the book). We have compiled a 39 page chapter of Industry Books that everyone in business should read. This chapter comes in a simple to download pdf document and shares all of the design characteristics of the original book.
If you need to hear from some others, here are a few:
- Eddie Evans from Reuters - "Business Books: They read them so you don't have to."
- Gloria McDonough-Taub from CNBC - "You may disagree with their selections and that's fine, we all have our favorites--BUT--they've made some really smart choices that truly help the reader, the book fans, unlike the Oscars where they always get it wrong."
- Maureen McKay at Reader's Digest - "...a strong, engaging overview of some of the best business books published in recent years."
- Andrea Learned at Learned on Women - "As Jack puts it in one of his reviews: "There are books that break new ground and then there are books that show you a new way to think about the basics." Jack and Todd's book does both (and inspires you to keep on reading...)."
- My Fireside Chat with Lisa Haneberg at Management Craft (26 minute podcast) Matt May at Elegant Solutions - "I appreciate the leg-work and diligence and pure sweat that must have gone into what would to me seems a Herculean task."
You can find the entire list of the 100 books at 100bestbiz.com. You can also download the introduction to The 100 Best and two sample reviews from The Essential Drucker and To Engineer Is Human.
A compelling offer, followed by testimonials, and finished off with free samples of the final product.
inBubbleWrap - The 100 Best Business Books of All Time
Posted Feb. 2, 2009 9:28 a.m. by dylan
In 100 Best - 800 CEO Read Blog
Have we mentioned that we have this book coming out? About business books, perhaps? Like, this week? Well, it's called The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, and it's a testament to the subculture we inhabit. It's due to be officially released on Thursday, and one of the many things we're doing in celebration is giving away 25 copies, signed by the authors, on inBubbleWrap. All winners will also get a copy of this and last year's In The Books, our annual review of business books. And, the first four winners will each receive one of four posters we've commissioned four artists to develop based on four choice passages from The 100 Best.
In the video below, Todd discusses the five metathemes he and Jack discovered while writing the book. It's a fascinating lens on the genre. So, take a listen and then head on over to InBubbleWrap and win yourself a book.
Why A Book? - Part I
Posted Jan. 30, 2009 2:45 p.m. by todd-sattersten
In 100 Best - 800 CEO Read Blog
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.
Posted Jan. 28, 2009 8:14 a.m. by tom-ehrenfeld
In The Company - 800 CEO Read Blog
Just a quick note to let you know we're all back in town, ready for a new season of business books. Our launch party in NYC was a great success (thanks to all who joined us!), and we are looking forward to Jack and Todd's book coming out next week.
Here we all are. What a great looking bunch!