If you follow my blogging-history, you may have noticed that I write about books… a lot! There are several reasons for this. One is certainly that I am a bookworm—I enjoy reading books, learning new things, and whenever I enter a bookstore, I go into a trance and start studying books to buy now or in the future. Case in point: I wasn’t planning it, but I bought two more today! Talk about impulse-buy… More on those in a sec…
The other reason is more complicated. I actually think that books translate better to blogging than much of real life. This clearly differs from blogger to blogger. You won’t find Robert Scoble blogging about books much, nor Fred Wilson, both of whom blog on more daily issues (Scoble is also a media-guy). Both John Gruber and Jason Kottke do cover books, but often base their writings on articles and other shorter readings.
For myself, it is different and I can give several examples of this. One, I was a pretty regular blogger until about a year and a half ago, when I started on a project of researching venture capital in the Netherlands. Not only was it a time-intensive process, but I was constantly questioning myself as to whether my blogging was ethical or not. There were certain topics reigning in my life, relating to that company, which i could just not disclose. A similar thing happened before that, when I worked at a high-tech start-up, and most recently, while completing my thesis.
There are several blogging friends I could mention (F., J., C., & M.), where you notice this same phenomenon.
Books instead, as well as articles, offer a foundation to build upon. One, they are public, which dismisses any confidentiality issues. Two, if they are well-written, they communicate core-ideas well, and you can add to that with your own knowledge. The complication with reading is of course, similar to writing, finding the time to do so. I think I found a doable system, by reading just before sleep, but I don’t know how that will hold up in future projects.
The way I choose books (and articles)
As I look back at my short life, I find that I’ve evolved in the choices of books I made, and most recently after engaging on this trajectory—the food & retail blog and the underlying purpose that serves. While before, my choice of business-books was somewhat restrained to general management, strategy, and entrepreneurship books, I now choose books purposefully that fill a gap in my knowledge and focussed on business-issues in this industry.
I choose the McDonalds (coverage here & here) and Starbucks books (here, here & here), because they seemed like a good venue-point from which to understand how food-businesses work. My interest has always been towards chains of businesses, not individual ones, so that was also a bonus. Similarly, the IKEA-book (here) offered insights into retail, and the eBay-book (here), while less relevant, into starting a business and running a community.
The Disney-book (here), which I’m currently reading, gives me insights into building a framework around the soft discipline of entertainment, story-telling, etc. It is very relevant to my earlier post today on cinemas, which is clearly a raw perspective, but one I hope I can refine, as entertainment is a core-value I have.
The two books, I’ve chosen today, are on two diverse, yet, to me, relevant subjects. “Managers as mentors” is about what the title suggests. The reason I chose it, is because I’m not a fan of the traditional perception of management. I find it a hard world. The way I relate to people is through learning and teaching. I’ve raised my brother since I was 11, as my parents were often away from home, and find it very rewarding to see him become an adult. I have a similar relationship towards people, where I like to turn them into more than they imagine themselves to be. So this book seemed right. That is not to say, that I have any problem with firing people that I don’t feel have potential. 😉
The second book is even more interesting to me, it’s called “the growth strategies of hotel chains – best business practices by leading companies.” It’s very strategy-orientated, covering principles of diversification vs. specialisation, vertical/horizontal/diagonal integration, m&a’s, franchising vs. ownership, branding & globalisation, and US vs. European differences, as well as examples of said leading chains at the end of each chapter. Exactly up my alley! Needless to say, I will read it after the Disney book!
So what about you?
Now, a discussion is only valuable if more people take part. So please, if you have an opinion on this, or on a better research-methodology for blogs, let me know in the comments!
The picture is courtesy of brandtarot.com