I'm a big fan of earlier books by Jim Collins, particularly Good to Great. When I saw the latest issue of BusinessWeek featured an excerpt of Collins' new book, How the Mighty Fall, I couldn't wait to dig into it. What I discovered was not only another great work but also confirmation of a point I made in this earlier post about how/when we'll evolve past the "book".
How the Mighty Fall doesn't release till tomorrow, so if you want to get the scoop today you're pretty much limited to this excellent excerpt (more on that in a moment). And although I was interested in grabbing the Kindle sample as a preview, well, the publisher apparently isn't planning to release the book on the Kindle. Doh!
If you read through that BusinessWeek excerpt you'll find it's written in the same great storytelling style that made Good to Great so successful. You'll also see that Collins has determined there are 5 stages of decline and that "companies can be well into stage 3 and still look and feel great." You'll read a summary of each of the stages and you'll probably stop and think every so often about how each of these stages apply to your company.
In short, it's a terrific excerpt from what looks to be a great book. But now that I've read the BusinessWeek excerpt, I have zero interest in buying the book. I feel like the 20 minutes or so I spent reading that BusinessWeek piece has provided me with all the insight I need on the subject. IOW, Collins did too good of a job on this excerpt, and that brings me back to that earlier post...
In a few short pages the author managed to convey all the key information that's spread across this 240-page book. OK, I'm sure there are other stories and interesting tidbits that appear in the book but didn't make the excerpt, but so what? I now know the details of the 5 stages of decline and, since I'm already way behind in all my other reading there's no way I'm going to bother buying this one.
I don't know what kind of payment author/publisher got for this BusinessWeek excerpt but I'm sure the visibility will help sell more copies of the book. That said, I also think this particular excerpt is an excellent example of how a "book" could be repackaged and sold in a smaller, shorter, more efficient format.
Had it not already been made available via BusinessWeek, I would have gladly paid $9.99 for this excerpt. How many other business books out there could be shortened and sold in e-format like this? Yes, I'm aware of getAbstract and Business Book Summaries. The former is good, the latter, not so much, but neither can compete with a high-quality excerpt like this that's written by the author himself.