Careful readers of BtoB will know this book review column usually appears in August. Sorry my book report is late. ¶ On the other hand, the months-long delay did allow me to add books published in the fall, as well as try something new. This year, taking a page from the Web 2.0 playbook, I asked my LinkedIn and Facebook networks for reading recommendations. Both networks performed extremely well.
The following, in no particular order, are books published in 2008.
? “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions,” by Dan Ariely. (Hardcover: 304 pages, HarperCollins Publishers, March 2008.) Ariely, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT, dispatches the standard economic model of rational subjects, showing how decisions are often irrational, although systematically and predictably so.
? “The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas With Pictures,” by Dan Roam. (Hardcover: 288 pages, Penguin Group USA, March 2008.) Management consultant and lecturer Roam provides step-by-step methods and rules for communicating big business ideas via simple drawings—executed while the audience watches.
? “Outliers: The Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell. (Paperback: 309 pages, Little, Brown and Co., December 2008.) Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point” and other works, this time asks why some people succeed while many others don't, arguing these people have “hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn, and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.”
? “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies,” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. (Hardcover: 224 pages, Harvard Business School Press, April 2008.) As BtoB sibling publication Advertising Age put it: “The Forrester analysts have prepared one of the most comprehensive and useful primers on the sudden surge in social media.”
? “The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly” by David Meerman Scott. (Paperback: 320 pages, John Wiley& Sons, November 2008.) Several people in my networks recommended this book, which both illuminates online marketing and, in later chapters, offers tactical advice on how to use the new tools and channels.
? “Secrets of Social Media Marketing: How to Use Online Conversations and Customer Communities to Turbo-Charge Your Business!,” by Paul Gillin. (Paperback: 256 pages, Quill Driver Books, November 2008.) BtoB's own “New Channels” columnist's new book builds on his last—“The New Influencers: A Marketer's Guide to the New Social Media”—offering practical advice on strategy, tools and tactics.
? “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It,” by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. (Paperback: 224 pages, Penguin Group, May 2008.) With humor and insight into organizational dysfunction, the authors, the human resources duo who built the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) at Best Buy, describe the bold experiment and how it has had a positive impact on employees' lives and the retailer's bottom line.
? “Data Driven: Profiting from Your Most Important Business Asset,” by Thomas C. Redman. (Hardcover: 272 pages, Harvard Business School Press, September 2008.) Writing for executive managers, Redman looks at the importance of data analytics, starting with the IT infrastructure required to maintain consistent data (and the cost of poor data); the book ends with a chapter titled “The Next 100 Days” containing actionable advice.
Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business and can be reached at email@example.com.