Tag Archives: Roger Ebert blog

Book Synopses for Sale – Step Right Up

Randy and Karl hard at work preparing for the next First Friday Book Synopsis

Randy and Karl hard at work preparing for the next First Friday Book Synopsis

Every now and then, I think I should share just what Karl and I do here at and through the First Friday Book Synopsis.  We read books and tell you the key concepts contained in the books.

Think about the possibilities. A book comes out – a good book with good ideas, something you can use and put to work in your own business (or personal) endeavors.  You think “I should read this book.”  And maybe you should.  But the reality is that there are about 786 books you “should” read – and more coming every week.  (Yes, I picked that number out of thin air – the actual number you, and I, should read is much…higher.  There is so much to know, so much to learn).

Here are your options:

1.  Read all of the books that you “should” read. You could probably do this – if you quit sleeping, eating, working, relating.  (Roger Ebert recently wrote of a world-class tinkerer, a man who “didn’t sleep.” If only…)

2.  Get somebody else to read them for you – and give you enough of what’s in the books that you have useful ideas to put to use. That’s what Karl and I do.  We read books for you, and share what we discover and learn.

But, we are not really in the book summary business.  There are too many books.  We could hire an army of readers and presenters to read all of those books.  But we’re not in that business. Instead, we are in the “these are the books we like” business.  We pick and choose – to be precise, we choose 24 books a year (with an occasional extra).  And if you look back over the last 11+years, we’ve done pretty well.  The big best-sellers are all on our list.  And a few rare finds are on the list, also.

But we don’t compete with the companies which provide summaries of nearly all of the business books.  We’re just two guys – two guys who love to read books, and we like to share what we find in them that is useful and valuable.  And we’ve done it for so long that I think we have gotten pretty good at finding and extracting and sharing the most crucial ideas and the best transferable concepts from the good business books.

In other words, other services have a larger selection of titles.  But I think what we offer is unique:  a synopsis, with audio + handout, that provides the key content, in something akin to an “encounter” with the book.  I admit that this is my take, my experience — I don’t just read a book, I encounter a book.  And these encounters are what I try to share in my presentations.

3.  There is a third option – you can just ignore the books. This is an ok option – one we all follow all the time.  I ignore most of the good books out there.  I don’t read the books; I don’t even read reviews of the books; frequently, I never even hear of the books.    There are so many, what other choice do I have?  But – if you will take Karl and me up on our offer, you can at least learn a little more about a few more valuable books.

We provide our synopses to a live audience monthly in Dallas at the Park City Club.  (See the home page of this web site for all the details – it is the First Friday of every month – except for an occasional second Friday thrown in due to holiday conflicts).  Here are video excerpts of my recent presentation of Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay (thanks, Doug Caldwell, for the video).

Each synopsis includes a handout with two pages of quotes directly from the book, and then an outline of the key content.  It is ok to read by itself, but it is designed to be used with the verbal presentations, and listening and reading at the same time will definitely give you more of what we offer.

And so we record our presentations, and put our audio recordings and handouts up on our companion web site for people to purchase.  (15minutebusinessbooks.com).  Give it a click.

We’ve got books by Malcom Gladwell, Jim Collins, Gail Collins, Ram Charan, Thomas Friedman …  so many others — the list is long.  Our synopses will help you learn some really valuable stuff.

So  — book synopses for sale – step right up.