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getAbstract: A Book Summary Service that Really Works

Their tagline is “compressed knowledge”. I once tried a competing book summary subscription program and was highly disappointed, so I approached getAbstract as a full-fledged skeptic. I’ve now read 6 of their summaries and I was wrong. This is a great service and a real time-saver.

I firmly believe that most of the good information you find in the typical business book can be boiled down to 4 or 5 pages. That’s the model for getAbstract. They carefully read each book, taking note of the key points and condense it down to three headings: Take-Aways, Relevance (What You Will Learn/Recommendation) and the Abstract itself, all in 5 pages.

To convince myself that I’m not missing anything in a summary, I started off with a couple of books I already read from cover to cover. Sure, there were a few memorable stories or bits of background information from the book that didn’t make it into the summary, but overall I truly felt the summary covered all the critical highlights.

On a long flight to the west coast yesterday I wound up reading the Clayton Christensen trilogy:

The Innovator’s Dilemma

The Innovator’s Solution

Seeing What’s Next

I had already read the first one but the summary was a good refresher before I moved on the other two. I’m a slow reader, and even more so with these summaries because I want to make sure I spend some time thinking about each of the take-aways, etc. Despite taking my time, I managed to get through all 3 in about an hour (total). Although I was seriously considering buying a copy of Seeing What’s Next, I’m glad I didn’t – the summary showed that it’s mostly a rehash of the first two books.

getAbstract’s summaries are available on a wide range of topics and in many formats including PDF, PocketPC and Palm. Quite a few are also available in audio format, enabling you to “read” a book on your drive home from work. The subscriptions aren’t cheap ($299/year for an unlimited Gold subscription and $89/year for a 30-summary Silver subscription), but you’ll probably find the timesavings more than makes up for the subscription price.

Comments

Robbie Allen

Are there any legal issues with what getAbstract is doing?

Joe Wikert

Not that I know of. They do abstracts on many Wiley books, for example, and everything is properly handled through the rights department.

Amitabh Mukherjee

Hi,

I just wandered into this blog - a year too late but I have some info that will get you a "gold" subscription of getAbstract at a fraction of the cost.
Please visit http://www.networksubscriptions.com/

Don;t forget to thank me if you do subscribe using this link. And no I am in no way associated with these sites.

Best Regards,
Amitabh

Joe Wikert

Hi Amitabh. At first I wondered whether this was legit, but after visiting the site I see it is. It's interesting to see how these various brands/properties have agreed to come together through a third-party at a discounted rate. It makes sense and is indeed a better bargain, assuming you were interested in subscribing to multiple products, not just one.

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