Book summaries are pointless

ghost writer UK

One of the fundamental problems facing many business owners today is revealed in the phrase ‘too much information’. Multitudes of would-be entrepreneurs are on the search for the silver bullet that will make them millionaires or open the door to fame, freedom and financial security forever. And even among well established or reasonably successful business people, everyone, it seems, is striving to stay in tune with the latest tech, learn the shortcut to A, B or C, or master a marketing method to guarantee endless streams of new customers.

I can’t keep up with the frantic rush and scurry myself and have swapped FOMO (fear of missing out) for Go-Slow (take my foot off the gas, take in and enjoy the view).

As a ghostwriter of business books, I see book summaries as one symptom (or sign) of this broader problem causing stress and uncertainty throughout the small business community. I’m sure you can think of others, but read on, and I’ll clarify my thoughts on this one. 

Here is my theory

Everything is happening faster these days. Here are some stats about how long it took for various technologies or advances to reach 50m global users (from the day of their launch):

  • Cars: 62 years
  • Radio: 38 years
  • Credit cards: 28 years
  • Television: 14 years
  • Internet: 7 years
  • Facebook: 4 years
  • iPhone: 3 years
  • Android Phone: 2 years
  • iPad: 80 days
  • Angry Birds: 35 days

I think the thirst for more information, more ideas, more insights, and more stuff, in general, is dulling our collective sense of what has genuine value. The culture of binge watch TV, always online, face-in-phone and insta-everything is another symptom or sign of the problem that is slowly consuming our exhausted minds. There was a time when someone seen walking down the street talking to the open air in front of them made you wary of their sanity. Today, hardly a person walks by who isn’t having a virtual conversation with a distant friend via an unseen gizmo (I still question the sanity). 

Surely there is a capacity to what the human mind can compute (effectively and efficiently) in any given minute of the day? Nero-scientific studies consistently prove that multitasking is a myth, distractions can rob a mind of focus for up to twenty minutes, and even the best memories and comprehensions have a limit.

My theory is that an hour of uninterrupted self-indulgent attention to one valuable thing will yield far more long-term benefit than a concoction of complexity bombarded from every angle for a day. What do you think? 


Back to business book summaries

The only way to write a readable business book is with a plan. The plan should recognise the reader, clarify the big idea, and identify where these story foundations meet. Then the author must deconstruct their message into parts, spread the ingredients across their mind (or on a table) and find the story and structure to piece it back together and create the magic. Only from this platform can the writing begin, and the words formulate into a rhythm and flow to amplify its author’s wisdom, echo their purpose and deliver knowledge and know-how to their perfect reader’s ears. 

But with readers and authors falling foul of the ‘too much information’ pandemic, a whole new industry has spawned. Book Summaries! Business owners crave the kudos of the ‘published author’ claim (1000 per month, I am told). So they take their big idea and surround it in lifeless fluff and repetitive filler to hit a word count. On the other side of the page, readers want as much information from as many ‘experts’ as possible, driven by a fear of missing the one thing that might change everything.

Then the book-summary-people turn-up and reduce these bookfuls fluff and filler into something vaguely resembling the big idea and parts the author started with before padding it with 45,000 empty words. And we have a multitude of book summary subscription models selling e-pamphlets.

I wonder how long it will take for the rapidly growing book summary marketplace to gather a combined total of 50million none-the-wiser users? (Maybe it already has!)


What is the solution? 

I could be wrong; who am I to tell the masses what to think? But here is my personal solution. I will read one business book at a time, either through recommendation or because the bio, contents page, title, and sub-title caught my attention by declaring their relevance or appeal. If the book delivers (it is engaging, interesting, rich in wit, wisdom and education), I will read on and leave a fitting review somewhere. If it is boring (as sadly so many are these days), I will return it, two or three chapters in, to the shelf or the bin and start the next one on my list (I think I can risk a few £10.99 fails to find some pages of pure gold).

A good book deserves my full attention, and my full attention deserves and craves a good book. Please feel free to offer any recommendations (I will try not to judge you if I disagree), and I am happy to return the favour.

The only way to write a readable business book is with a plan.

If you have a book in you but have no idea where to start with planning it then get in touch.