Saturday, 15 May 2010

The most important lesson I learned from business and management books

One of the first actual business book I've ever read, a bit idealistic in my opinion but abundantly informative

Reading is a relatively cheap hobby— unless you buy every books you read.

As student in management school, I had to do a lot of reading about business, management, finance, economics and the sort. Most of my reading materials are articles and blogs, which are mostly free (unless we consider electricity and Internet connection as costs). But those aren't enough. I sometimes need to read deeper into certain topics, in which case I need books.

And cheap they are not.

Have you ever browsed the business section of a book store? Just look at the price stickers. If you don't have more than RM50, I recommend you learn speed reading and how to read standing up or in small tight spaces.

I do however see the reason why. Books are merchandise and there have their own markets. For business and management books, the target group are mainly managers and executives and businesspersons, who are often seen as having money to spare. Or, if we look at it from a different perspective, these people don't just buy books. They invest. The books they get are carefully considered for their perceived benefits.

Publishers know this of course. If these people are going to buy in limited quantity, let's bump up the price and go for the highest profit margin as possible.

Interestingly business and management also do follow trends. Back in the 80s total quality management was huge and everybody wanted to follow the Japanese. At one time not very long ago knowledge management was all the rage, and that lasted a while until they realised that even the experts could not agree of the definition of knowledge management. The trends reflect the changes in the business world, which is why we're now seeing tons of books singing praises about the marvels of Internet commerce.

I'm no manager nor executive nor businessperson nor anyone of that bracket. I'm a student. Unlike these people, money I ain't got a lot.

Here's the tricky thing about business and management books. With novels or cookbooks or even coffee table books, we can still try our luck at warehouse sales or stock clearance sales or used books sales, when their prices are way, way cheaper. Business and management books however are often rare at these venues.

I have a hypothesis for this. With business and managements, the quantity ordered by the book store is only as much as they can expect to sell. Hence, most of these books end up being sold with only few excess copies in the warehouse, if any.

If my hypothesis holds, it would explain why I almost never find business and management books, especially the good ones, at these sales. (I could of course try to find them at a library.)

Given the limited money and time (and shelf space) we are able set aside for books, it makes lots of sense to carefully plan our reading and buying. After all, our goal is to read a lot and benefit as much as possible from it. And that sounds a lot like making an investment.

In one interview, our current PM says this is one of his favourite book. I finally got my copy after two years waiting for a discount


uNcLeJoE said...

salam... UJ bace setiap review dan resensi buku yang rol
your reading habit hmmm so impressed me...based on what you have written especially about the books of the author kazuo ishiguro... i'm really interested to his writing...and wanna get those books of him...biasa kat mane beli?...UJ tak bace kot..buku2 for the business purpose... probably not yet...

i do always drop by this blog though nothing jot any letters into your comment box...tak pe kan?

r.o.l. said...

W'salam, UJ, saya sentiasa gembira dan mengalu-alukan kunjungan UJ dan semua pembaca, sama ada yang memberi komen atau tidak.

I got all my Kazuo Ishiguro books from warehouse sales and second hand book store or stock clearance. So far I'm quite lucky to find Ishiguro's books there and not have to pay the usual market price. Ishiguro's books can put some people to sleep... his strength is in his prose, he's after all a literary novelist. I'm simply introducing the book, I'm not saying everyone should read it and love it.

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