Despite the death knell having been tolled, the ‘old fashioned’ hard copy book continues to play a valuable role in thought leadership. But sometimes the obsession with technology can mask the considerable opportunities.
You only have to take a look around the daily commute to see that books still command people’s attention and sales figures for books, including business books, are growing.
This is doubtless helped by the current emphasis placed on reading and ideas by business leaders, especially tech entrepreneurs. Apparently the best leaders read for 20 minutes a day, there are always lists of what every successful business person should read available along with ideas for reading routines and suggestions for making you a more effective person, which including reading more.
Many places of work still have a library both for professional reasons but also to help foster creativity. In some places, they encourage people to donate relevant books so that they can be shared with colleagues.
But why focus on a book rather than other outlets to develop your thought leadership?
A book does require more time, attention, and research in their creation. They cannot be simply ‘knocked out’ which shorter form content can sometimes be. But that is part of its inherent attraction and power. They take commitment to write and that impresses.
Books can offer thought leadership opportunities to individuals but also for organisations as well. An edited book with chapters from individuals across an organisation could be attractive. ‘History’ books offer a good way of showing how practices have changed and how heritage informs how it behaves now. A book is a form of collective memory for organisations that can otherwise be lost. Sending copies to employees or offering them as part of induction training can help develop commitment to the organisation.
Books offer the prospect of visibility in the marketplace and, if part of a campaign, can be used to develop contacts.
I am biased, of course. Having written a number of books, I always find it heartening when someone mentions that they have read one of them (even better if they bought it!). I am pleased to have contributed, at least in some part, to the continued professionalisation of public affairs.
But they are part of my ‘brand’ and are my calling card so that I can show I know what I am talking about, so much so that I am prepared to share it with others. What I have really useful is having a publisher that is prepared to challenge me. So if you are tempted to write a book then get a good team around you.
Now how do I get on Richard and Judy or Oprah’s book club lists…?