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4906582_sEvery winter I get on a non-fiction reading kick. With the new(ish) year underway, now feels like a great time to think a bit about our industry and best practices, to catch up on methodologies and alternative approaches we should be thinking about, and to explore what other thought leaders are publishing.

Creativity and inspiration may not necessarily spark from dense textbook surveys of the market research landscape, but they’re a good place to start. There are two books I would recommend for anyone interested in what we do and how we do it:

  • Ray Poynter’s The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research is a helpful introduction to online research, how it’s evolved over the past ten years, and how researchers reach out into the world in different ways to consult with consumers and business constituents in various categories.  This book is a great place to start learning about marketing research and some of the newer and interesting ways in which consumer insights are being culled (social media, communities, etc.)
  • Naresh Malhotra’s Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation, now in it’s sixth edition, is an excellent textbook for in-depth understanding of how market research can provide businesses with strategic value – exploring how insights from market research studies can be applied toward bigger picture business questions, hypotheses, and problems. This text is comprehensive, providing an overview of how many diverse market research methodologies contribute to feed into the channel of consumer feedback.

In addition to these resources, the field of psychology continues to contribute meaningful “food-for-thought” to market researchers. For a fifth (!) year in a row, Dan Ariely’s name and works have come up in our conversations around rational and emotional drivers for consumer behavior. Start with the famous Predictably Irrational, if you haven’t already, and if you find it engaging, follow his thinking through the more recent The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, on the shelves in many bookstores now.

As Marty mentioned in a previous post, the new Delicious design is a little wonky, and no longer pumps content to our blog and Twitter account. So here’s a roundup of articles I’ve stumbled across over the past month that you may find interesting:

Yesterday, Google and the British Library announced their partnership to digitize 250,000 books that are out of copyright. Though the British Library has worked with Microsoft previously and is currently working with brightsolid to digitize their newspaper collections, this project with Google is the largest digitization of paper media to date.

Chief Executive of the British Library, Dame Lynne Brindley, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Google on this project and through this partnership believe that we are building on this proud tradition of giving access to anyone, anywhere and at any time. Our aim is to provide perpetual access to this historical material, and we hope that our collections coupled with Google’s know-how will enable us to achieve this aim.” (Press Release)

The books, pamphlets and periodicals are from the early 1700’s through the 1870’s. This time period includes the American, French and Industrial Revolutions, the age of Enlightenment, the inventions of the steam engine and telegraph, and the fall of slavery.  According to the press release, “the first works to be digitised will range from feminist pamphlets about Queen Marie-Antoinette (1791), to the invention of the first combustion engine-driven submarine (1858), and an account of a stuffed Hippopotamus owned by the Prince of Orange (1775).”

The books will be available for free to anyone through Google Books, the British Library website, and the European Digital Library, Europeana.  Google, who is also helping 40 other libraries around the world, is incurring all of the costs.  Even though Google may have dropped its motto, “Don’t be Evil,” they’re certainly trying to do some good.

I, for one, can’t wait to read about this hippo.

Interesting little infographic from Newsweek about the differences between books and e-books.

Just before the holidays, BERG and Bonnier R&D published articles and a great demonstration video on a new concept for electronic magazines. It seems this concept could be easily applied in both the e-reader and tablet format in the very near future, offering smarter design and a better reader/user experience than currently offered by online magazines.

Sports Illustrated and Wired also proposed e-magazine concepts recently, but the BERG/Bonnier concept seems to take a best of both worlds approach and suggests ways in which this approach can be easily adopted. The interactive control features and the modern take on presentation of content really add to the reader’s experience – hinting at engagement beyond mere push-button page flipping, pdf scrolling, zooming, and flash animation.

Related links:

BERG article
Bonnier’s MAG+ Blog Post

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I came across this interesting little essay the other day, and it’s been on my mind ever since. As much as we talk about paying for “content” when we buy books, music, and movies, we’ve really just paying for the medium. Books are priced based on the number of pages and whether they are hardcover or paperback. Not the quality of the writing. The most critically acclaimed film at the theater doesn’t cost more to see than the least.

In this new, digital world, we’re beginning to move beyond this. Record companies have been pushing for more tiers of pricing on iTunes. Some television shows are free on Hulu. Some only show on premium cable and DVD. Once you eliminate the physical product, distinctions between perceived quality are able to be made.

It’s no longer about supply, demand, and the price of paper. It’s about quality and creativity.

Anyway. This article is worth reading.

Recently I stumbled upon two interesting projects that aim to provide insight into who we are. One does this through a closed small American town sample and one relies upon happen chance encounters along a nationwide road trip. Both intriguing.

1) The Oxford Project

TheOxfordProjectsmall

 A collection of photographs and narrative that portray the people who make up a small American town, all 670 of its residents. The first series of portrait photographs were conducted in 1984, and each is paired with its corresponding photo completed two decades later. A longitudinal study of American life and a seemingly interesting portrayal of juxtapositions and uncanny similarities.  

“What a marvelous way to get at ‘who we are’ as people. This powerful confessional book draws its strength from the truth that so-called ordinary people, not those with bold-faced names, are actually the heroes of our American drama.”
—Ken Burns, Walpole, New Hampshire

 

 2.The Interview Project

interview project

 A David Lynch project that documents a 20,000 mile road trip over 70 days. Interviews were conducted at random with people they found along the road.

“The people told their story.” – David Lynch

“It’s a chance to meet these people.” -David Lynch