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Streamline Your Reading While Saving Thousands Of Dollars

2012 August 8
tags: Effectiveness, executive book summaries, Productivity, Soundview, Time Management, Travel Tips
by Andrew   

Have you fallen behind on your business reading? Are you embarrassed by your lack of familiarity with the books being discussed by your coworkers, or worse, the managers at your workplace? Have you potentially lost opportunities due to an inability to discuss newly published or classic business books? Read on for a relatively inexpensive and very effective solution…

The Problem

You don’t have time to read every new business book that’s published. Neither do I. Anyone who does probably doesn’t need to read them because they don’t have anything else on which to spend their time, unless they’re a prodigious reader. I read incredibly fast, and I still can’t hope to get through every newly published business book, and why should I? A lot of books get published that either rehash existing ideas in a new wrapper, they contain gimmicky half-baked ideas that you don’t want try out on your organization, or they’re simply too dry and badly organized to be effectively used. But even with all of that aside, there are many new business books that have great ideas, even phenomenal ideas with proven track records, but there just isn’t enough time to read them all.

On top of that, business books are expensive! They tend to range from $13 to $30, but let’s be generous and “average” that to $20. If you bought sixty business books a year at $20, that would be $1,200 a year on business books alone, before taxes. And, I sort of presupposed that out of that sixty, you’d get about half of those as really good books and the rest ranging from mediocre to just so-so. Did I make that up? Yes, but consider how many of the last ten or so business books that you’ve read were actually really useful? Three? Four? Five, if you’re very fortunate? Normally, the only way to get a better ratio is to select them all from a selected reading list from people who give very good advice, and most of them aren’t updating those lists frequently enough to keep you abreast of new developments.

The Solution

Fortunately, a solution is readily available and comparatively inexpensive. Book summaries published by reputable business book reviewers are a great way to glean the essential points from business books, and also a great way to sample a lot of new books for a very low price. Consider it a sort of tasting plate for new business books. I suggest the tasting plate analogy because you really oughtn’t let summaries be your only exposure to business books. Many of the really good books contain great anecdotes, examples, or detailed discussions that don’t make their way into the summaries but which really help drive a point home or make it memorable. So, I strongly advocate using the summaries to keep you abreast of newly published business books of good reputation, but also allow them to guide you toward which books you should purchase to keep in your library.

Personally, I prefer Executive Book Summaries by Soundview because I’m most familiar with them. I’ve been a member off and on for years, and their service offerings are tiered and meet my needs. They have a great comparison table on their subscription page, so I’ll provide a quick overview of the basic package below. If you’re interested, head on over to their site to look them over and compare the additional great features of the higher-tier packages.

The basic package is $99 as of this writing and has been stable at that price for quite some time. In my experience, Soundview delivers a lot for that price and does so consistently without raising the subscription cost every year. I know, I said relatively inexpensive, and $100 is a lot of money. However, you’d get about four really good business books and some change for that $100 if you bought the books. If you spend it on Soundview, here’s what you get:

  • 30 new book summaries every year, each 8 pages long
  • 6 summaries of classic business books
  • Audio files of all of the summaries and any accompanying author interviews
  • Access to a searchable online library of all of the content delivered since you subscribed
  • A free app for iPhones/iPads (an Android app is coming soon)
  • 48 additional 1-page reviews of other new books
  • Live weekly webinars with acclaimed business authors

Does that sound like a lot for just under $100? It is. And if you’re like me, you spend a lot of time on planes. Soundview’s 8-page summaries or several 1-page summaries are great to have with you to read on flights, when you’re tired of reading or working on something else, or for unexpected delays. I also like the fact that I can use them as pre-made referral notes for the books I really liked that I purchased later.

Now, assuming you would have spent that $1,200 on business books anyway, you now have $1,100 left to spend on the books that will benefit you the most, and still have a lot left over to spend on other things. And you don’t have to take my word for it…swing by their website and download a free sample of one of their summaries.

Editor’s note: This is an uncompensated review of Soundview’s executive book summaries. They didn’t pay me to write this; I just happen to think they have a great service.

Take care, and enjoy life,


I’ve also written a related article about prioritizing and not being overwhelmed by your email inbox.

Photo Credit: Flickr (missrogue)


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