Fall Books: Beyond the Blockbusters

The trade show known as BookExpo has just ended, showcasing the fall books, especially those for which publishers have spent lots of dough. George W. Bush (Crown), Tony Blair (Knopf), Maria Bartiromo (Penguin), and Bob Woodward (Simon and Schuster) all have big books coming, but they’re unlikely to be the most interesting.

Provocative business titles include Hacking Work (Portfolio), in which consultants Bill Jensen and Josh Klein assume that many of your employer’s rules are stupid and counterproductive. The authors tell you how to get around them and, as a result, be more productive.

Stanford professor Bob Sutton, author of the no-B.S. best-seller The No Asshole Rule, has a new common-sense work, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…And Learn From the Worst (Business Plus). Sutton’s blog is at http://bobsutton.typepad.com/

Former Wired editor Kevin Kelly offers What Technology Wants (Viking), which the publisher says will offer “a refreshing view of technology as a living force in the world.”

And Forbes writer Emily Lambert will have The Futures: The Rise of the Speculator and the Origins of the World’s Biggest Markets (Basic Books) detailing past and present doings at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, “the original (and eventually largest) futures market.”

The topic of online social networking dominated the conversation at BookExpo, so naturally, there are many books on the topic. These include former Web executive Lisa Gansky’s The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing and Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams’ Macrowikinomics. Both books are from Penguin imprint Portfolio. Read more at http://dontapscott.com/

 And if you can stand to read another financial-meltdown account, at least one more is on the way: All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis (Portfolio) by Bethany McLean of Vanity Fair magazine and New York Times columnist Joe Nocera.

Coming Soon…

It’s currently the number 508,261 book on Amazon.com….and climbing.

My book, The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economy (Basic Books), officially publishes in September. Bound galleys are out now, having been mailed to possible reviewers and others. Amazon is taking early orders, which explains how there can be any sales numbers at all.

As a longtime reviewer of others’ books, I’m bracing myself for what is to come. Some wag once observed that a book author is one who destroys for himself the simple pleasure of going into a bookstore: If his book is not there, he is furious; if it is there, he wonders why it’s not displayed more prominently; and so on. It might equally be said that authors drive themselves mad over review coverage. “They said that? Why those, #@!!$%$#*!”

One complaint that’s sure to be heard: The author failed to describe [substitute your favorite town]. Actually, there are 50 company towns discussed in some detail and dozens more mentioned. But there is no way to include all of them. Last summer, my wife told a staffer in a Pawtucket historical museum that I was writing a book on company towns. “Oh, how many volumes?” the woman responded.  True enough, their numbers are legion. So I am hoping to create an interactive website that will allow input and discussion from folks across the land, letting everyone discuss their memories of company towns they have known and loved/hated.