Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Measuring the Value of a Book (or a Blog)

We all know that there's no silver bullet for building a better business or a better life, so how do you measure the value of a book or a blog? Here are four questions to consider:

Does it cause you to think differently about something?
A book or blog is worth reading if it causes you to think differently about something. Take, for example, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. I would give this book an overall "meh" rating as I don’t subscribe to many of his views. However, Tim mentioned a couple ideas in the book that seem so obvious when pointed out, yet I had never thought about them in the way he illustrated. Implementing those ideas changed aspects of my business, earning me much more than the $20 I had paid for the book. So while I didn’t love the sum of the book, it was still well worth the money and time spent reading it.

Does it make your life better in some way?
Making your life better is a tall order for a book or a blog. Not every post or page should be expected to be life-altering, but sometimes you'll run across an idea while reading that literally does improve your lifestyle. I skim through a bunch of wedding blogs each week and came across this post on the Martha Stewart Weddings blog that talked about these sleep masks. At the time, I was having a lot of trouble sleeping well, and I decided to try them out. Unlike other sleep masks that smush against your eyelids, this one allows for uninterrupted eye movement during the REM cycle, allowing you to get the sleep that you need and all the benefits that come along with it (higher productivity, sharper ideas, etc). The editor taking the time to blog about a product that came across her desk had a profound effect on my life.

Does it save you time?
Some books and blogs are full of the author's original ideas. Some share information that could also be found elsewhere. Both types can be valuable, especially if the latter saves you time. I’ve read books that contain information I could have found for myself online. However, finding that info on my own would take me hundreds of hours. Reading the book takes me two. Sometimes it’s worth having other people synthesize “free” information.

How does it make you feel?
Does a book or blog leave you feeling empowered or belittled? If you read something that consistently leaves you angry or feeling low, stop reading it. The decision to vote with your pageviews or your wallet rests in your hands.

How do you determine the value of a book or a blog?

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