By George Lois, Phaidon Press
Legendary adman George Lois recalls intersecting with big names and big brands, including Richard Nixon, Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, Volkswagen, MTV and USA Today in this retrospective. Lois showcases work on more than 130 branding campaigns, as well as his often controversial Esquire covers of the `60s (one famously showed a sleeping Nixon being serviced by makeup artists). Maybe it's just us, but we can't think of much better than a blend of genuinely original ads and behind-the-scenes dirt.
2. `The Wisdom of Crowds'
By James Surowiecki, Doubleday
Surowiecki, a New Yorker business columnist, explores why a group is, collectively, smarter than the smartest of its individual members. An informal tone makes a complex idea accessible; Surowiecki makes his case by using examples from game shows, voting and simply walking down the street. But he doesn't champion the pack mentality: "Wise" crowds, he says, are full of independent thinkers from diverse backgrounds.
3. `Blue Streak'
By Barbara S. Peterson, Portfolio
JetBlue has cultivated a loyal consumer following (and put slow-moving industry behemoths on notice) with low fares and a host of creature comforts such as leather seats and individual satellite TVs. Barbara Peterson, a Conde Nast Traveler contributing editor, gets the inside scoop on JetBlue's quirky corporate culture and Neeleman's fresh approach to an antiquated business model to find out how he reaped the rewards of putting the focus on the flier.
4. `Madison & Vine'
By Scott Donaton, McGraw-Hill
This is an important read and we're going to include it whether or not you think we're just sucking up to the boss. Ad Age's editor studies challenges to the business models of the advertising and entertainment industries, as consumers' control over media increases. Donaton points out examples of successful marriages (marketer tie-ins with CBS's "Survivor"), and what can happen when convergence goes awry (Liz Taylor hawking her perfume by appearing in four network sitcoms on one night).
5. `The Keystone Advantage'
By Marco Iansiti with Ray Levien Harvard Business School Press
Traditional businesses have operated with a winner-take-all mentality, but this text explores how the ecosystem approach backs a win-win approach. It views powerful companies as part of a network and dependent on each other for success. Examples: Wal-Mart's relationship with its suppliers, or eBay with its vendors. It has found its way into arguments seeking to change the way antitrust issues are regulated.
6. `Richard Avedon Portraits'
By Maria Morris Hambourg, Mia Fineman, Richard Avedon, Philippe de Montebello Harry N. Abrams; Slipcase edition
Avedon died this year, and this book, a companion to a New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit two years ago, is worth a second look. He made his mark in advertising, but as a portrait photographer he captured the most influential personalities of the 20th century. Instead of simply decorating your coffee table, this one becomes a genuine talking point.
7. `Eats, Shoots & Leaves'
By Lynne Truss, Gotham Books
Truss makes the case for the preservation of correct punctuation in a world of confusing signage, text and advertising. However, English teachers and copy-editing nazis will note that the subtitle, "A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" screams for a hyphen, so that "zero tolerance," which modifies "approach," can be the right and proper compound modifier that it is. Oh woe is I.
8. `Magical Thinking'
By Augusten Burroughs, St. Martin's Press
The first essay in Burroughs' latest starts off, "When I was seven, I was plucked from my uneventful life deep in darkest Massachusetts and dropped into a Tang Instant Breakfast commercial." An advertising book? Hardly. The next line reads: "It was exactly like being abducted by aliens except without the anal probe." Think of Burroughs as a darker, dirtier David Sedaris. You want to be jealous because he's so obviously the ad copywriter made good, but he makes it up to you by being so darn readable.
9. 'The Paradox of Choice'
By Barry Schwartz, Ecco
Do we have choice or an illusion of choice? Is choice making you happy? Are you-yes, you, the marketing guy-offering too many products? Barry Schwartz gets to the heart of some of the key issues in our consumerist society, showing us why we'd probably be happier with fewer options. Whether you read this as the producer or the consumer it has a host of valuable lessons.
10. `Spin Sisters'
By Myrna Blyth, St. Martin's Press
Former editor of the venerable Ladies' Home Journal bites the hand that fed for years in this withering critique of women's magazines and media. Blyth charges that the women's service magazines, once a revolution, now do a disservice to women by feeding them a steady diet of shallow content. But Blyth doesn't stop at magazines; everyone from smiley Katie Couric to car-giveaway queen Oprah Winfrey to journalist Diane Sawyer and Sen. Hillary Clinton takes a hit.