Last week, while shopping on Amazon for books about marketing on Facebook, I was surprised to see that some users had reviewed a particular book published in late 2008 as “out of date.” My first reaction was to feel bad for the author (note to potential social networking authors, you may want to consider a medium of communication other than a book, lest your information be deemed irrelevant shortly after it’s published), but I also felt disbelief – how could an entire book of information be invalid less than 12 months after it was published? Is the information really irrelevant, or do people just assume irrelevance because the technology around social networking has changed in the past year? To address this problem I did a little investigating.
As it turns out, only 12 of the 30 books on INC’s “Business Owners Bookshelf” list (http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090401/the-business-owners-bookshelf.html) were published after the year 2000 and 2 of the books were published before the year 1950. The oldest book on the list is Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations published in 1776.
Additionally, only 10 of the 20 books on Amazon’s user created “Top Business Books” list (http://www.amazon.com/Top-Business-Books/lm/2F3ECKWH4ZB4L) were published after the year 2000.
It is true that the world was very different before the rise of the internet, but I would argue that many older works are as relevant today as they have ever been.
Note – while poking around I found US News and World Report’s list of Best Business Books as chosen by top executives (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/bestinbiz/bestbusinessbooks/). Some of these books will be appearing on my Audible queue to keep me company on thanksgiving travel days.