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:
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.