Filed under: Books in General, From the Editor, General Business | Tags: books, Business, business book, business books
I ran across two separate articles today discussing the “price wars” over best-selling books. Major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Target are in fierce competition to snap up the considerably fewer dollars that shoppers will spend on books in the upcoming holiday season. Here’s one article from The Washington Times discussing the fight by the American Booksellers Association to get the federal government to investigate the deep price cuts that the major retailers are undertaking.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal offers an article that explains the tightly regulated publishing market in Europe. It’s an interesting read when you consider that prices for nearly all new releases are set in advance and discounts are verboten (I couldn’t resist, since Germany is heavily featured in the article).
One point brought up in the Journal article that I wanted to bring to your attention is the lawsuit that occurred in French courts against the French branch of Amazon.com. The suit in question concerned the famous “free shipping” offered by the online retailer on purchases of a certain amount or more. This lawsuit was also referenced in one of the key business books of 2009, FREE: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. I’ll have a little more to say about Anderson and this book in the coming weeks, but the fact that both he and the Journal discuss the French Amazon case gives indication about the ongoing fight over pricing in today’s economy.
The entire price war debate reminds us once more of the desperation occurring in retail. I suppose if I can take anything positive away from the situation, it’s that there is still a great demand for books of all genre.
Filed under: Books in General, Brands, General Business, Marketing | Tags: books, Business, business book, business books, consumer goods, Marketing
If you check in with us from time to time, you’ve probably noticed that I have a bit of a fascination with business titles that deal with consumerism. Part of the interest is rooted in the frequent observation that Americans today have more material wealth and technological convenience than any previous generation, yet they continue to be less and less happy. On another level, I always enjoy the consumer titles because I’m fascinated by branding and the unique combination of factors that can propel one product to the top while a similar one collects dust on store shelves.
In that vein, I was delighted to read this review of a new book by Kevin Maney, a writer for USA Today. Maney’s book Trade-Off examines the gap that exists in the modern world of retail. Customers are drawn more and more to two distinct sets of products. They prefer either inexpensive goods that offer convenience but not quality, or they splash their cash on high-end items that carry a certain clout or trendiness. Products that fall in between these two categories, Maney argues, are likely to be ignored by the majority of the buying public.
Maney is not the first author to tackle the widening gap in consumer goods. Michael Silverstein examined this topic in his book Treasure Hunt, a title we summarized. What’s interesting about both books is the notion that consumers of all income levels cherry-pick from both groups of products. Maney’s book seems to suggest that quality suffers in the pursuit of the lowest price. However, he also remarks that most consumers are comfortable with this idea. I suppose that more and more consumers are willing to live with the adage “You get what you pay for.” Something to think about the next time the person in front of you at Wal-Mart pulls an iPhone out of an expensive handbag before paying for discounted household items.
Filed under: Books in General, Hands-On Management, Leadership, Strategic Management | Tags: books, Business, business book, business books, Hands-On Management, Leadership, Strategic Management
Here at Soundview, as we watch the steady flow of business books pour across our desk, there is a recurring trend that doesn’t speak well for bosses. It seems that many people aren’t happy with the way their boss does his or her job, and they’re looking for ways to either work around their boss or “manage” him or her.
The most recent title in this vein is Lead the Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up by John Baldoni. In the acknowledgment portion of his book, Baldoni says his urge to write the book began with the needs of the men and women executives who he has coached, many of whom were “excelling in their jobs but found it sometimes difficult to get the attention of, interact with, or persuade senior leaders.” “Leading your boss,” he tells us in the prologue, “is really a metaphor for leading from the middle,” which actually encompasses leading your boss, your peers and your team for the ultimate good of the organization.
Other similar books published in recent years include The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell, Leading Up by Michael Useem and Managing Up by Rosanne Badowski and Roger Gittines. Maxwell even ventures to say that “the reality is that 99 percent of all leadership occurs not from the top but from the middle of an organization.” In the final Special Section of The 360 Degree Leader he mentions, “More than two-thirds of the people who leave their jobs do so because of an ineffective or incompetent leader. People don’t leave their company — they leave their leader.”
Clearly, good leaders are needed throughout an organization, not just at the top. But issues around trust, lack of transparency, ineffective communication and unclear direction — plus a few poor interpersonal skills — can easily undermine the effectiveness of any leader at any level. If you or your boss could use some perspective on effective leadership or management strategies, visit Soundview Executive Book Summaries for access to some helpful book titles.
Filed under: Uncategorized
I just got off the phone with our editorial contact who’s sitting in the offices of Zenger/Folkman.
We’re just a little over an hour away from our Soundview Live Webcast with John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger, the authors of The Inspiring Leader.
If you’ve signed up, make sure you log in shortly before the Webcast starts at NOON Eastern. From what my colleague said, we’re expecting a large audience. This conference should definitely benefit leaders at any level of an organization.
I’ll be listening, and I certainly hope you will as well.
If you’re not currently a subscriber and you’d like the opportunity to attend future Soundview Live events for FREE, visit us at www.summary.com for more information on how to subscribe.
Filed under: Conference/Event, Leadership, Soundview Live | Tags: books, Business, business book, business books, Conference/Event, Leadership, Soundview Live
I just wanted to remind everyone that we’ve got a fantastic Soundview Live event coming up on Thursday, 10/15 at noon Eastern. We’ll be hosting an interactive Web event with the authors of The Inspiring Leader: John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger.
Leadership is one of the most popular topics with our audience. We probably receive more requests to cover leadership titles than any other subject area. I think this is what has me looking forward to the event on Thursday. We’re pleased when we can offer our subscribers a chance to interact with authors who are experts in the audience’s major area of interest. I was lucky enough to get a preview of some of the material that will be covered in the authors’ presentation and I can say that it will definitely open the eyes of anyone who feels he or she needs to improve his or her leadership abilities. I learned a couple things about my own leadership habits that I had never considered. I also love the fact that the authors’ presentation is just the launching point for the overall Soundview Live experience. Our audiences have been fantastic at driving the conferences to new heights with their questions and interpretations of the authors’ material. Join us Thursday at noon Eastern and get the answers to your leadership questions!
One other advantage to being able to peek “behind the scenes” is that I can see how many of our subscribers are taking advantage of this FREE interactive Web conference. Not to put any pressure on anyone reading this, but if you haven’t signed up, I wouldn’t wait too much longer. Subscriber response to this event has been tremendously … inspiring, one might say.
If you are currently a subscriber, or are interested in subscribing to attend Thursday’s event, visit this link for all the information you need.