Writing Assignment: The Current State of the Economy – How Book Summary Services Can Help

October 26, 2011

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You've just received a writing assignment to create a feature-length drama centered around the milieu of the current Occupy Wall Street Movement.  You're excited about the opportunity, it's a brilliant topic dealing with current events, you'll eat for the next nine months, and oh yeah…there's just one problem, you know NOTHING about financial markets, banking, or even Wall Street for that matter.  This predicament reminds me of advice given by one of my old LMU professors – writers write what they know and research the rest. Great.  Except, grasping the financial markets, banking, micro this and macro that all goes well beyond a day or two at the library. 

What's a writer to do?

I'll start by giving you a little PPB (personal private business). Friends and family often tease me because I have the dreadful habit of starting a new book without finishing the last.  At any given moment I have at least three – four books on my person (digital and paperbound) along with a 4" stack of tech and design magazines. And because 90% of what I read is non-fiction, I'll often traverse a book in no sequential order from middle to back, back to front and upside down, looking for specific information.  Did I mention this haphazard approach to reading means it takes me forever to finish a book cover to cover?  I'm willing to look into meds to rectify the situation because it may very well be a peculiar form of A.D.D.

Ok, I digress…

There's a growing business service offered online that revolves around the fact that C-level execs like myself only have so many hours in the day to focus on their business.  Yet, the landscape is constantly changing and it's important to stay current on ideologies, trends, concepts etc.  I thought about this services with regard to writers and decided I would at least suggest it as an option.  They are called book summary services with several web companies offering a host of subscription models. Essentially, business book summary services offer subscribers concentrated knowledge of best selling business books ranging from law, to finance, to economics, banking and beyond. 

Unlike fiction where you might miss something really important if you don't read sequentially from cover to cover, many good business books offer key points and heaping doses of "filler".  Who cares about example two, three and four – get to the point. If you're willing to invest a little overhead in your craft, there's actually several online options.

I just want to introduce the concept in this blog article, not recommend a service provider.  Refer to this article by Business Book Summaries outlining the pros and cons of each abstract service. In addition, I would not suggest this method for all business authors.  Books using the "mini chapter" method like Rework by 37Signals do not fair well under the summary concept.  In addition, Michael Lewis, Macolm Gladwell and possibly Seth Godlin are (in my opinion) examples of cover to cover writers.  Hell, Gladwell's book Outliers should be a mandatory cover to cover read for every HR department in the country for the SIMPLE REASON EMPLOYERS SHOULD CONSIDER EXPERIENCE OVER DEGREES FOR THE SAKE OF LOGIC!!!!!

Once again, I digress…

And back to my center of peace…

With some of the services providing PDF and audio files, you can even workout while you're feeding your brain.  Prices range from as much as $299 a year unlimited to piecemeal options like $5 a book. Caveot emptor – you get what you pay for. Not all great books are covered.  The fact that none of the services have an abstract for The Sages is a small travesty. I would suggest due diligence be done before delving in, but abstracts may indeed prove to be a sweet shortcut to a wealth of knowledge.

Image courtesy of Graphics Fuel

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