A short while ago, I wrote a defense of business books here on the 800-CEO-READ blog, contending that the business book genre includes such a wide range of subgenres that it doesn't deserve the disdain or dismissal it often receives as being pedantic or unappealing to a wider audience. Today, Todd Sattersten contributes a precise retort against the criticism the genre receives by quoting some of the most recent critics and showing the shortcomings of their arguments against the value of business books. There is no right or wrong answer in the argument of whether most business books offer value to readers.
Most business books are written for easy digestion. They are reductive in the way that subway maps are reductive; the elimination of unnecessary information creates a kind of conceptual isolation that is functionally efficient to the extreme.In a busy world, functional and efficient are not dirty words (and I don't think Moon is implying that insomuch as making an observation.) Sometimes usefulness must supersede intricacy. But some critics take a hard stance again this kind of reductive treatment of the complex subject that is business, forgetting that subway maps are important for anyone who is visiting a city for the first time or doesn't have an instinct for direction or is trying a new path perhaps even to an old destination. To criticize the whole genre with a broad brush shows a distinct lack of knowledge about said genre. Youngme Moon's book is an example of a book that pushes the boundaries of what we traditionally think business books are. Moon writes:
This book could be described in much the same way [as marketing.] It is intimate. It is organic. It is idiosyncratic. It's even a bit disorganized. But in my mind, that's okay, because my aspiration is not to be deductive; it is to be discursive in the unpredictable way that people are discursive. In business, just as in life, sometimes the most illuminating insights can emerge from the throwaways.No doubt there are critics who would take Moon to task for straying away from the more predictable "5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Marketing Budget" kind of approach. There is room for everyone here, folks. Tomato. Tomahto. And Todd, in his blog post, Surprise, Surprise, Someone Else Doesn't Like Business Books, shows just how erroneous it is to assert that all business books have no worth for modern readers. (PS: to win a copy of Youngme Moon's Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd, head on over to inBubbleWrap and sign up for this week's giveaway of Different.