Looking for 800-CEO-READ? That's us! Learn More

The 2008 Business Book Awards

The call to action is clear and powerful, exactly what you would expect from Seth Godin. But when is the last time a book's subtitle expected so much from you? Most business books are created to sell you something—usually it's some way you'll be improved. Think about how that simple subtitle turns all of the reader's expectations around.

But that's nothing new for Seth Godin. He has built a body of work that challenges conventions and, at the same time, creates safe havens for heretics and radicals. If your job is spreading ideas (and here is a hint: it is everyone's job), Seth's library of books is for you.

The primary message of Tribes is that people want to be led. The web can connect people better than ever before, but change can only happen when individuals step forward and take the lead. Leaders are successful not because of the position they hold, but rather the change they inspire. And contrary to popular belief, markets reward bold ideas—whether it's with the election of a politician, a fanatical response to a new cell phone, or the top ranking of your YouTube video. Tribes is the right book for the right time.

As Seth asks, "What do you have to lose?"

Category Winner

Sales

The Contrarian Effect: Why It Pays (Big) to Take Typical Sales Advice and Do the Opposite by Michael Port and Elizabeth Marshall | John Wiley & Sons

Port and Marshall show readers that times are changing in business and that customers are being driven away by typical sales tactics. Filled with real life stories about companies and what works and what doesn't, The Contrarian Effect not only shows how the sales process is broken, but how to successfully build something to replace it.

Buy it

Category Winner

Leadership

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin | Portfolio

This may be Seth Godin's most important book yet. It's human nature to want to be part of a group that shares a connection, passion, and a common leader: a tribe. Technologies today have changed the make-up and creation of tribes, enabling them to communicate and grow in ways not possible in the past. In the future, tribes will lead revolutions and usher in change. All they need is the right leader. Will that be you?

Buy it

Category Winner

HR & Organizational Development

Reward Systems: Does Yours Measure Up? by Steve Kerr | Harvard Business Press

Harvard Business Press is doing business book fans everywhere a great service by publishing the “Memo to the CEO” series, a set of easily accessible and well-researched books from experts on leadership issues. In Reward Systems, Steve Kerr points out the problems with most reward (or incentive) programs, distilling years of experience to present a three-step process for creating a simple yet effective rewards system that will improve both performance and motivation in your workplace.

Read about the winner

Category Winner

Entrepreneurship & Small Business

The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up by Bo Burlingham and Norm Brodsky | Portfolio

Brodsky and Burlingham have been writing their "Street Smarts" column for Inc. magazine since 1995, and now they have compiled that useful wisdom in this collection of stories about companies that have "the knack" for facing challenges and pursuing opportunities. The first chapter's description of gross margin and its make-or-break effect on a fledgling business alone earns it the top spot this year.

Buy it

Category Winner

Finance & Economics

Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity Edited by Michael Lewis | W.W. Norton

Panic compiles literature from "before, during, and after the panics that have punctuated, often, the most recent financial era." It includes accounts from newspapers, magazines, books and government reports and covers the 1987 stock market crash, the bursting of the Internet bubble, the Asian currency crisis, and others. The brilliance of the book is that it provides a real-time view into what was happening in the minds of those involved in and reporting on these events.

Buy it

Category Winner

Marketing & Advertising

The Brand Bubble: The Looming Crisis in Brand Value and How to Avoid It by John Gerzema and Ed Lebar | Jossey-Bass

Companies put a lot of effort and money into their brands, which can sometimes be higher than the value they place on their customers. As this occurs, the number of quality, performing brands decreases. According to Gerzema and Lebar, this is the brand bubble, and the result could have a serious blow to the economy. This powerful book addresses marketing's impact on the economy and the potential pitfalls of that impact, and then outlines a detailed 5-stage process for companies to follow to create a great return for their shareholders.

Buy it

Category Winner

Globalization

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein | Atlantic Monthly Press

In this astonishingly erudite book, William J. Bernstein chronicles the history of world trade, clearly expelling any myths one might have that globalization is a recent phenomenon. Starting in Sumer around 3000 BC with an account of a tribe of herders attacking a community of farmers at harvest time and ending in the streets at the Battle of Seattle (the 1999 WTO protests), this book entertainingly covers centuries of human economic activity and progress.

Buy it

Category Winner

Fables & Parables

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Daniel Pink and Rob Ten Pas | Riverhead Books

From the first crack of the magic chopsticks and the arrival of Diana, a "half human creature whose superpowers appear in a time of crisis," the reader is off to an incredible journey of self-discovery. Pink's book is the first business book to use the Japanese comic form called Manga, illustrated by Rob Ten Pas, which not only keeps the pace lively but also allows the reader to feel part of the narrative by focusing on Johnny Bunko, who's thrust into unfamiliar territory on a quest to learn the 6 Career Secrets. Before you know it, it's over. But then somewhere, somehow a chopstick snaps and you find yourself wanting to read it over and over again.

Buy it

Category Winner

Biographies & Memoirs

The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber Power, and the Seeds of Empire by Joe Jackson | Viking

The fascinating story of Henry Wickham, who went to the jungle to find the seeds to the most valuable rubber–and pull off one of the greatest heists of all time–is told here with excitement, intrigue, and homage to the wonders of science and industry. Through Wickham’s story, Joe Jackson reveals the importance of rubber during the Industrial Revolution and explains how advancements like vulcanization, which makes rubber harder and more usable, sparked worldwide demand and a renewed entrepreneurial spirit.

Buy it

Category Winner

Personal Development

Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life by Stewart D. Friedman | Harvard Business Press

In Total Leadership, Stewart Friedman, founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program, presents a concrete methodology for building a more integrated life. His program is really a practice, requiring both action and reflection, that urges you to explore a triumvirate of qualities–Be Real (Act with Authenticity), Be Whole (Act with Integrity), and Be Innovative (Act with Creativity)–to help you become a leader in every aspect (work, home, community, and self) of your life.

Buy it

Category Winner

Innovation & Creativity

Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company by Robert Brunner and Stewart Emery with Russ Hall | FT Press

Design has long been an afterthought to company strategies, but it's the companies that embrace design that succeed (think Apple). Design is incorporated in every step along the way, making for an unforgettable experience that's user-friendly and genuine. That experience is what makes customers swoon for a company's product or service, and, ultimately, guarantees that a company matters.

Buy it

Category Winner

Industry

The Orange Code: How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel with a Cause by Arkadi Kuhlmann and Bruce Philp | John Wiley & Sons

ING Direct is an organization—within a traditional industry—that looks at the world differently. The Internet-based direct bank that started in 1996 and now has more than 20 million customers in nine countries made its way to the top by adopting an incredibly simple banking model and helping its customers make informed and wise decisions. The Orange Code shows how ING succeeded in this current economy.

Buy it

Category Winner

New Perspectives

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow | Pantheon

The Drunkard’s Walk is a wonderful addition to a growing category that Amazon recently called “Why We Act This Way.” Mlodinow provides vivid stories to explain how our decision-making becomes hampered by our insistence on finding patterns and causes where randomness is the only phenomenon at work. Read this book to gain thoughtful insights into human psychology and find a new way of looking at the world.

Buy it

We have updated our privacy policy. Click here to read our full policy.