In my estimate 95% of business books published each year are total crap. Someday, I’ll write up my own theories about this fascinating segment of the book world. In the meantime, blogger "Uncle Saul" has a wonderful critique on why business books suck and how they fail to serve entrepreneurs in particular. Excerpts:
Entrepreneurs Need Tactical Guidance – Obsessing about strategy is a luxury that only Big Dumb Companies ("BDC’s") can afford. Entrepreneurs must define a series of skirmishes, they do not need to devise elaborate battle plans. Entrepreneurs need only develop a basic strategy and craft an evolving and iterative tactical plan which guides them in the general direction dictated by their overall strategy. Although a few books attempt to act as entrepreneurial field guides that offer tactics in specific areas (e.g., selling, marketing, PR, etc.), their usefulness is often limited. Books that highlight tactics are valuable for entrepreneurs whose specific circumstances match those outlined in the text. However, specific tactics are often difficult to translate into markets outside of those described in such books.
Entrepreneurs Have Corporate ADD – A pithy format, offering bite-sized data, serves entrepreneurs well. If you prefer to pour through 400-page academic tomes, you may be a nice person, but you are probably not an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs "Get It" – Consistent with their Corporate ADD, entrepreneurs tend to excel at digesting numerous disparate facts and making quick, gestalt decisions. This inherent impatience causes entrepreneurs to quickly become frustrated with books that repeatedly reinforce their central point through multiple examples, analogies and anecdotes.
Entrepreneurs Are Contrarians – In general, the use of multiple examples is an appropriate means of convincing someone to change their behavior. However, since most entrepreneurs have no allegiance to the status quo, they find books which rely on numerous examples as a means of changing the reader’s behavior to be frustrating and largely irrelevant.
(hat tip: Todd @ 8CR)
In a piece in Forbes on how Amazon could change / dominate book publishing, the author says the publishing industry is "archaic beyond belief, it’s an industry that treats its most important asset–the author–badly."