Monday, June 6, 2016

Will business books get replaced by abstracts/summaries anytime soon?

As a subscriber to book summary service Blinkist( and a past one of Getabstract), I believe in the view that one can get the maximum out of business abstracts rather than read the full book. Reasons for this are

  1. Much crisper-5 pages vs 300-500 pages
  2. Cheaper-Perhaps not in emerging markets where the price($10) is enough to buy 2 or more business books to keep, but certainly for developing markets
  3. Time-Saves a lot of time
  4. Format-Digital format and mobile/tablet friendly-easier than paper

Cons against this is
  1. Usually 'Cloud' and unable to download-so you lose access after subscription ends-you do NOT own the summary/asbtract-Access is not permanent
  2. The vivid stories/anecdotes which help remember otherwise dry concepts/lessons are not captured in the summary, so retention could be lower
  3. Gradually one might lose the ability to read longer text, and therefore lose the pleasure of classics or books like that of Adam Smith/Mises
  4. Book summaries may not be for the 'long tail' which one may still need to buy
While the market is up for disruption, the services may not continue in their present subscripton based form due to competition from Kindle Unlimited-This allows you to read the entire book. Also, many enterprising folks are creating unlicensed(?) summaries of popular non fiction books which are included under Kindle Unlimited, and hence at zero marginal cost for the reader

I would say overall that the business book market is inefficient, but if the prices are lowered or if unlimited book libraries continue, then people would still prefer to skim/speed read the book than resort to an expensive summary. 

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