For every retail or consumer-products company wondering why its Internet marketing doesn't seem to be working, The Cluetrain Manifesto, No. 5 on this month's hardcover list, offers fresh and sound advice, expressed in entertaining prose.
Its oft-repeated premise--that markets are conversations--should be pounded into the collective brain of corporate executives. Few companies are approaching the Internet as a multivoiced channel, and that's what's tripping them, argue the book's four co-authors in separate essays. Yet while companies continue to try to communicate in the one-way fashion they find comfortable (a la television), conversations among consumers and even among their employees are already going on, thanks to the online revolution. There is no way to stop these conversations, the authors argue. Companies' only hope is to join in and gain a chance to help shape the dialogue.
As with many heartfelt treatises, Cluetrain is a tad evangelistic. That's underscored by the book's unorthodox beginnings as a Web site (www.cluetrain.com) that developed a following and snagged itself a book contract as a result.
Some companies are clearly getting on the Cluetrain. Citicorp and Procter & Gamble, for example, have placed bulk orders, according to the publisher. The Cluetrain Manifesto does not have all the answers, but it is an illuminating and entertaining part of the burgeoning global conversation.
HARDCOVER BUSINESS BOOKS
1 WHO MOVED MY CHEESE? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (Putnam $19.95) Learning to accept change.
2 THE MILLIONAIRE MIND by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD (Andrews McMeel $26.95) The values of the wealthy revealed.
3 THE TIPPING POINT by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown $24.95) Discovering what turns an idea into a hot trend.
4 THE NEW NEW THING by Michael Lewis (Norton $25.95) Silicon Valley and its representative man, Jim Clark.
5 THE CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger (Perseus $23) The Web is a conversation--one that's changing markets.
6 FIRST, BREAK ALL THE RULES by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (Simon & Schuster $25) A Gallup investigation into managerial achievement.
7 HIGH TECH START UP by John L. Nesheim (Free Press $50) A handbook for startup success, by a Silicon Valley veteran.
8 BLOWN TO BITS by Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster (Harvard Business School $27.50) How the Internet is reshaping business models.
9 SIX SIGMA by Mikel Harry, PhD, and Richard Schroeder (Currency $27.50) Improvements in quality can boost profits, say two Motorola veterans.
10 THE INVISIBLE TOUCH by Harry Beckwith (Warner $21.95) How service businesses can attract clients and keep them.
11 THE ROARING 2000s INVESTOR by Harry S. Dent Jr. (Simon & Schuster $25) How to take advantage of global demographic trends.
12 WHAT WOULD MACHIAVELLI DO? by Stanley Bing (HarperBusiness $21) ''Maintain a psychotic level of control'' and other maxims to make you laugh, by a Fortune columnist.
13 THE 9 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM by Suze Orman (Crown $23) Practical and ''spiritual'' steps for managing money.
14 RAVING FANS by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles (Morrow $20) Turning customers into your biggest boosters.
15 THE GORILLA GAME by Geoffrey A. Moore, Paul Johnson, and Tom Kippola (HarperBusiness $27) Spotting the hottest high-tech stocks, in a revised edition.
PAPERBACK BUSINESS BOOKS
1 RICH DAD, POOR DAD by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter, C.P.A. (TechPress $15.95) Teaching your kids the rules of money that the rich play by.
2 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey (Fireside $14) Habitually popular.
3 THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD, and William D. Danko, PhD (Pocket Books $14) The simple ways of the wealthy among us.
4 INVESTING FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson (IDG Books $19.99) From stocks to small business--with cartoons, too.
5 THE MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT GUIDE by David and Tom Gardner (Fireside $13) The online duo puts it on paper.
6 THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER by Kenneth Blanchard, PhD, and Spencer Johnson, M.D. (Berkley $12.95) Three management techniques, conveyed in brief story form.
7 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING MONEY AND INVESTING by Kenneth M. Morris and Virginia B. Morris (Fireside $15.95) Concise explanations enriched with graphics.
8 24 ESSENTIAL LESSONS FOR INVESTMENT SUCCESS by William J. O'Neil (McGraw-Hill $10.95) The founder of Investor's Business Daily offers wisdom on stock-picking.
9 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? 2000 by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press $16.95) The enduring job-search bible.
10 THE ERNST & YOUNG TAX GUIDE 2000 by the Tax Partners and Professionals of Ernst & Young LLP (Wiley $15.95) Time is up, folks.
11 SMART WOMEN FINISH RICH by David Bach (Broadway Books $13) A Morgan Stanley Dean Witter senior vice-president's personal-finance guide for women.
12 GETTING TO YES by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (Penguin $12.95) A Harvard team's step-by-step guide to conflict resolution.
13 THE ROARING 2000s by Harry S. Dent Jr. (Touchstone $14) Why the good times won't go away.
14 BUILT TO LAST by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras (HarperBusiness $16) How 3M, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and others became standouts.
15 HOW TO MAKE MONEY IN STOCKS by William J. O'Neil. (McGraw-Hill $10.95) Back to the basics.
Business Week's Best-Seller List is based on a survey of chain and independent booksellers that carry a broad selection of books on economics, management, sales and marketing, small business, investing, personal finance, and careers. Well over 1,000 retail outlets nationwide are represented. Current rankings are based on a weighted analysis of unit sales in March.