How to Choose Good Books

Good books show their standing through high sales figures and high search figures on the internet. The 5 most popular categories based on these criteria (in descending order of importance) are Children’s books, Management books, Fiction books, Books on Business and, Sales books.

Children’s books are a popular choice as gifts. They are valuable as they help develop the child’s reasoning and imaginative abilities and expand his/her vocabulary. They also aid in instilling sound moral values.

But choosing the right book for a specific child can be a challenge and the following guidelines should help.

Children can be grouped into categories according to their approximate age and a useful grouping is that of preschool, junior school, high school and young adults. This broad grouping should allow the preliminary elimination of certain books.

Next, any book with sensitive content can be eliminated. This would include all books which would not be in line with the family’s values e.g. those which promote a specific religious point of view and those which require maturity to handle such as gratuitous violence and sexuality.

The gender of the child will further eliminate additional types of books.

Management books relate to the effective and efficient activities involved in the operation of a business. They cover the common activities of  Business Intelligence Management, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Information Technology Management, Marketing Management, Production Management, Service Management and, Strategic Management,

It should be noted that most of the books are either heavily skewed towards theory, which makes it difficult to put their content directly into practice, or are based on case studies of organisations which were successful in the past.

Case-study based books are also normally those which make the bestseller lists but suffer from two basic defects. Firstly, their content reflects the author’s definition of success and success factors. Secondly, they use the past to suggest future “success” managerial actions. These two defects are reflected in the fact that the majority of these so-called successful companies used as examples are usually no longer so successful when looked at today. Further, that the application of these identified “success” factors in similar organisations rarely result in the required improvement.

Management books are nevertheless important and serve a valuable function as long as the reader realises that their content has to be adapted to his/her unique situation and uses their content as broad guidelines.

Fiction books are those which feature invented stories and consist of the following sub-categories:

  • Horror fiction whose aim is to frighten the reader by exploiting his/her conscious and/or unconscious fears. The best known authors are Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker.
  • Mystery fiction which are usually based on a main character trying to solve a crime. It has three sub-categories which are crime, detective and spy. Successful authors in this category are John Sandford, Michael Connolly, Robert B Parker, Sue Grafton, Kathy Reichs and James Lee Burke.
  • Romance fiction which usually feature a lover having to overcome great hurdles to be with the love of his life. Authors in this category are Danielle Steele, Barbara Cartland and Daphne Du Maurier.
  • Science fiction/Fantasy books which have stories set in imaginary worlds using advanced technologies. This category has increased in popularity due to films such as Star Wars, Star Trek and, more recently, The Matrix and successful authors include J.K. Rowling, Arthur C. Clark, Ray Bradbury and J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • Suspense/Thriller fiction which commonly features a character exposed to constant threat whilst up against a villain. The best known authors in this category are Clive Cussler, Lawrence Sanders, Frederick Forsythe, Richard North Patterson and Tom Clancy.
  • Western fiction about life on the American frontier. Louis Lamour is the best known author of western fiction.
  • Woman’s fiction which tends to focus on relationships. They usually feature a strong woman character that triumphs in extremely difficult circumstances. Authors in this category are Judith Krantz, Rebecca Wells and Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Books on Business are distinguished from Management books in that they are slightly more of an academic nature and cover subjects which are universal  Common recent examples of these are ethics, organisational structuring, the state of the world markets and international financing.

A predicted future factor whose implications will have to be catered for by all organisations is the growing counter-reaction to “Human rights” in the form of “Human responsibilities” for which a Universal Declaration has already been formulated by the InterAction Council of Political and Religious Leaders.

On a local level they also include all the books related to the legalities of running a business which are published by all relevant authorities.

Sales books cover the spectrum from organizing and managing a sales team to sales skills and are especially popular during economic downturns.

An important distinction must be made between the sales activities required when selling an object and when selling a service as it is apparent that there are two totally distinctive skill sets and procedures involved. Would you trust your friendly local car salesperson to obtain and administer your personal financial investments?

Despite this obvious difference many authors tend to adopt a “one size fits all” approach to sales and then e.g. advocate the use of their developed “closing techniques” for all sales types.

Interesting enough when you go back in history you will find that the common sales approach underlying most of the sales models today was developed for pharmaceutical representatives in the past whose job it was to deduct stock level quantities on a pharmacy shelf from their recommended levels and then to replace the sold numbers of items.

A single approach to both types of sales is doomed to failure and this must be kept in mind when buying sales books.

Used books or second-hand books vs new books: In the past buying used or second-hand books tended to have a stigma attached to it and it was not the “done thing”. However, if you consider that the only difference between a good quality used book and a new book is the price then it is obvious why these types of stores have mushroomed.

Besides the cost savings, which allow you to buy even more books, an avid reader could use the opportunity to browse the store, whether it is a physical or virtual store, and thereby identify other books by his/her favourite authors. It is also a chance to become acquainted with new authors or new characters by current favourite authors.

It also allows you to buy those books which have been out of print.

Books on sale. If you still choose to buy new books then it is wise to continuously keep an eye out for sales held by the larger bookstores during which they sell new stock at a lower price. This is usually when their sales projections have not been realised and they are left with excess stock. You can either physically visit their stores, or visit their websites, on a regular basis to find out when they are having sales.

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