RANT: Book Charts & Recommended Reading Lists – My Thoughts
As you can tell from this blog, I read a lot of books! Because of this, I am always on the hunt for good new reads.
Like any other entrepreneur, I value my time and only want to be reading books that represent a good value exchange.
So, like everyone else, I turn to the internet for recommendations.
Recommended reading lists
Frequently, when I’m browsing or scrolling through Facebook, I’ll see pages such as Business Insider, Success.com, Entrepreneur etc. sharing posts titled ‘9 Book to Read if You Want to be a CEO’, ‘4 Books to Become a Millionaire’, ‘5 Books to be Successful’, etc.
I’m sure you know what I mean, and I’m sure you’ve also seen these posts.
I use to click on these posts intrigued by what books they were recommending.
Quite frequently a book that I had already read would be included in the list and I would think, “What? Why are they recommending that book?”
I would think this either because the book they were recommending is pants (in my opinion) OR even if the book is a good read, I didn’t believe it delivers on what the title of the post is promoting. Instead, they have miss-understand what the book is really about.
So, here’s my question…
Have the people who put together these posts read all the book in the list that they are recommending?
If they are promoting a post titled, ’10 Books to Become a Millionaire’, for example, have they read all the 10 books and are they a millionaire?
I know this post may seem petty but I have seen far too many questionable books in these book charts.
Where do these posts come from?
If they’re not reading the books, then how are they recommending them?
In truth, I do not know, but I would assume that they’re using Google, other websites that have created similar book charts, and of course, Amazon to collate that they think are the best books to achieve a certain goal.
Why create these posts?
I work as a digital marketer running several other websites and can, therefore, see the commercial value in creating these types of posts.
Here are a few reasons:
1. Increase traffic
Posts with titles such as ’10 Books to Read if You Want to Become a Millionaire’ are called listicles and they are great for generating traffic and getting clicks and shares on social media.
2. Increase ad revenue
The more people that visit their website, the more the company makes in advertisement revenue.
Not only do they get paid for people looking at the adverts, but should you click on any of the adverts surrounding the article they will also get a small payment.
3. Increase subscriptions
By getting you to their website there’s a chance you might hand over your email address and subscribe to their mailing list (or magazine).
4. Increase affiliate marketing revenue
I can almost guarantee that all of the book links included in the post are affiliate links. Meaning that should you click on any of them and purchase the book (or anything else) from Amazon, then they receive another small commission.
Even if you quickly look at the post and then bounce back to Facebook, they’ve probably pixelated you.
Pixels are small snippets of codes hidden on websites that allow the company to re-market to you – in other words, they can show you more adverts/posts in the future.
I need to stress that these things are not bad. I have all of these things running on my own websites.
If you look around this blog you’ll notice adverts, affiliate links, email subscription boxes, and yes, you’ve even been pixelated.
I am simply listing these things to help demonstrate the commercial value in these posts and why people would put together recommended reading lists even when they haven’t read the books they’re recommending.
My book charts
If you spend any time on this blog of mine, or if you’ve visited my YouTube channel archive, you may remember that I have done a few book chart posts/videos in the past.
However, I quickly stopped producing them even though I have had many requests for more of them.
The reason was that I never felt as though I had read enough books to be able to justify picking out the best ones in that category.
For example, let’s take the post 3 Books for Digital Marketers. When choosing the books for this post I could only choose from books that I had read – I couldn’t confidently recommend a book that I had not read myself.
When I created that post I was only a few months into my reading journey and my book collection was a bit light. Therefore, I had a limited number of books to pick from.
Although I picked three good books and I believe people will still get value from them, I felt like a bit of a fraud.
In order for me to confidently recommend the best books, I was going to have to first read a lot more books!
What do you think?
So, that’s my rant and my two cents.
I’d love to know what your opinion and experience has been with these ‘best books to read’ posts.
Have you had a positive experience and found great books from these lists. Or, like me, have you been left with more questions about whether the people putting together these posts have actually read the books they’re recommending?
Let me know in the comments below.