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Apr 05

Measuring the Cost of a Book

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I read two to three hours per day, perhaps more on weekends. Rather than watching reruns of Shark Tank or most nightly news programs, I’ll pick up a book or read one on my iPad.

I read books for a number of reasons: recreation, information, spiritual guidance and business information. When I read business books I give thought to the true cost of the book.  I buy books from $10-$75 on At times I recommend these books to a client or friend. They wince at a $35 to $50 price tag. I can see they think the cost is too high.


The bigger issue is the cost of time. If a 400-page book takes 650 minutes to read and your time is worth $25 an hour, your cost in time would be $275. That dwarfs the cost of the book. However, if you gain two or three really good ideas out of the book, the price of the book is minimal in comparison to savings from good ideas.

I recommended the book, Local Business Marketing , to a client.  He ignored my suggestion three times.  The fourth time I insisted he read the book. Later he told me that one idea alone brought in over $15,000 of new business. Clearly this was a cost effective choice, cheaper than paying consulting fees. I know others who read constantly but never implement anything. This is a waste of time.

Frequently I advise a person to identify at least 24 books that are important to the industry in which they work. If you ask five or ten individuals for recommended reading, you’ll come up with different lists. Just select the titles that you believe hit the mark where your business is concerned.  Then get into the habit of reading one book a month.  Like New Year’s resolutions, if they’re too aggressive; they won’t work.  However, most of us can slip in a book a month that relates to our work. This is a wise choice. Another advantage is that your competitors in the workplace will not do this.  Consistent reading will give you a significant advantage.

When I consider a business book to read I endeavor to make a wise choice about how to focus my reading time. I frequently make mistakes and get part of the way into a book realizing it’s not going to be valuable. In these instances, whether I am 20 pages or 100 pages into the book, I cut my losses. I’m not as concerned about losing the value of the book; I’m more concerned about losing the value of the rest of my time.

Some books are worth considerably more time than others. Sometimes I need to read a book two or three times to master the information.  I will underline key points and make notes that I will implement in the future.

Scripture talks about cutting away what doesn’t produce this way: “Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:3, NLT) This is why my experience with books teaches me not to worry too much about the cost of a book. I should always be more concerned about the value of my time. Embrace and digest books that provide valuable information.  Reading provides tremendous dividends in business.  Learn how reading will pay dividends to you also.

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