Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eric the Read vs. Seth Godin

Seth Godin may be my favorite business guru. I think he writes the most interesting blog on business and marketing topics. Just about all his ideas and business comments are dead on. Shown below is a comment from a recent entry by Seth that I would disagree with him and where I hope he's wrong.

"Amazon and the Kindle have killed the bookstore. Why? Because people who buy 100 or 300 books a year are gone forever. The typical American buys just one book a year for pleasure. Those people are meaningless to a bookstore. It's the heavy users that matter, and now officially, as 2009 ends, they have abandoned the bookstore. It's over."

I would like to categorize myself as a heavy user of reading materials. I probably read 100 books or more a year including the purchase of 40-45 books a year. In addition, I may buy between 80-100 magazines annually. 90% of my purchases are completed from the cashier at the bookstore.

I don't own a Kindle. I don't want a Kindle. I do not see how it improves one's reading experience. I don't see it as very cost effective at this point. Kindles and other electronic readers are not cheap. Nor are the books and magazines that you can buy and download.

I may be atypical but I enjoy the experience of browsing for books and other materials in a bookstore.

There is one huge factor that I think is hurting bookstores more than Amazon and Kindles and it deals with product.

There aren't a lot of good new books to get excited about and read, even for those with varied literary tastes. The typical American who is only buying one book a year may be limiting their purchases because publishers are not developing or marketing the kinds of books that they want to read.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Top 8 Disappointments as a Reader in 2009

  1. Declining quantity and quality of articles and coverage in newspapers and magazines.
  2. The ending to The Associate by John Grisham
  3. No John Rain series book by Barry Eisler
  4. No new James Bond series book by Sebastian Faulks
  5. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  6. How books by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck get to be bestsellers (ditto really for just about any politician or celebrity)
  7. Continued decline of Borders bookstores. Their business survival hangs in the balance. I like to see more not less brick and mortar bookstores
  8. Kindles. No I don't own one yet as I think the cost is still too high for the Kindle and the books, magazines and newspapers you can download

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best Books of 2009

Sorry but I read The Lost Symbol and The Associate but they did not make my cut. These were the books I read (usually cover to cover) and enjoyed in 2009.

1. The Unforgiving Minute” A Soldier’s Education by Craig M. Mullaney
This may have been the most interesting book that I read all year. In a sense it was very comforting to realize that we have young men of extraordinary leadership and courage in the wings.

2. A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played by Marshall Jon Fisher
Even if you don't enjoy tennis, this was a fascinating human story that took place in Davis Cup competition prior to World War II.

3. Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace by William Lobdell
A candid story of the struggle for belief that many readers will identify and sympathize..

4. A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers by Lawrence G. McDonald
An insider's experiences and views as Lehman Brothers struggles and eventually fails.

5. The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy by Bill Simmons
I loved this history of the NBA. Great stories and insights. A big book but a great read. I loved the accompanying footnotes.

6. What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis
It's hard to remember a world without Google. Great insights into their mindset for innovation and opportunities. Should be read by every business school student.

7. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford
Interesting perspectives on careers, education and the value of work.

8. Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase by Duff McDonald
Very interesting portrait of the banker who was in the middle of all the financial turmoil in 2008-2009. Rumored to be the person to replace Tim Geithner.

9. Resolution by Robert B. Parker
Loved the characters, loved the story. I finished the book in one day.

10. The Battle for America 2008 by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson
Reminds me of Teddy White's books covering the Presidential elections in the 1960s.

Honorable Mention (in author alpha order)

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith

Losing Mum and Pop A Memoir by Christopher Buckley

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street William D. Cohan

When the Game Was Ours by Magic Johnson, Larry Bird with Jackie MacMullan

Brimstone by Robert B. Parker