If You Could Only Have Five Marketing Books…

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Packing for the next trip to the Space Station? You know how tight those weight restrictions must be. Virgin Galactic has your first-class ticket booked, but you might be a little lonely if the weather is overcast. Thankfully, Richard Branson made the restrictions a little looser than what the folks over at Boing Boing uncovered here: TSA screener: 2-Book Max On Flights, you can take five books with you.

What would your five must-read Marketing books be?

Here are mine (in alphabetical order):

The Cluetrain Manifesto – The End of Business as Usual by Christopher LockeRick LevineDoc Searls and David Weinberger.

There’s no doubt that this still proves to be a seminal piece of Marketing literature. Weinberger’s other books rock as well – Everything Is Miscellaneous and Small Pieces Loosely Joined.

Life After the 30-Second Spot – Energize Your Brand With a Bold Mix of Alternatives to Traditional Advertising by Joseph Jaffe.

Jaffe has his latest book, Join The Conversation, out now as well.

Purple Cow – Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin.

Godin’s latest, Meatball Sundae, would have made the cut if there was room for six.

Re-imagine – Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age by Tom Peters.

Not a Marketing book so much as a general business book, but it’s chock full of marketing insights.

Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? – Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing by Bryan Eisenberg and Jeffrey Eisenberg.

Because, ultimately, this book describes what Marketing does – it creates a scent that gets consumers to buy.

What’s in your space pack?


  1. Great list Mitch. I’m on board with the ones you’ve suggested and I’d like to add “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug which is a must have ANYONE who has to do ANYTHING on the Internet (which is all of us) as well as Made to Stick – my favourite business/marketing book of 2007.

  2. I’d add Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. This is one of those great books that I’ve read, re-read, earmarked, highlighted… Ferrazzi has been instrumental in reintroducing relationships based in generosity and real, lasting connection to red ocean business environments. In Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi shakes up the shark pond with a simple, human approach to achieving long term success in business.

  3. I just finished the ‘Never Eat Alone’ and second that option from Amanda and ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ by Ken as well.
    My original entry would be “Good to Great” from Jim Collins.

  4. I find most marketing books a little too navel gazing. A great chapter here or there may open a mind, but generally, there are better places to learn.
    Don’t get me wrong, These are all good books listed here. For my 2 cents (or, for my $26.99), reading the top 5 books of the year in fiction is the way to go.
    Staying ahead of the popular culture curve and you will be just fine. By the time a book is written about how to use a piece culture in marketing… well… you are not ahead at all.

  5. ‘Packing for the next trip to the Space Station? You know how tight those weight restrictions must be.’ I thought we were weightless in space?
    I would have to bring my Bible just to read Genesis 1:1-2, ‘In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.’
    The only marketing book I would bring on this trip is ‘A Big Life (in advertising)’ by Mary Wells Lawrence. I read it in in 2002 and could not put it down. I think I will give it another read!

  6. Some great books here that I wish I would have thought to put on my list as well.
    Made To Stick was right up there. I think it is one of the important books about ideas.
    Collin – I don’t totally agree. Take a re-read of The Cluetrain Manifesto or Purple Cow. I think the best Marketing books are the ones that give a new perspective on how to think about your business and not, “look at all this cool, new shiny stuff.”
    I know there is tons of content available online, but I when I think about how much I enjoyed Small Is The New Big from Seth Godin, it really highlighted that even a book – which is a compilation of Blog postings – was “handled” differently in my mind. I didn’t rush through each page to the next one (like I do on Blogs) – it was a whole other context and it provided huge value.

  7. Thanks for the list Mitch. I was already thinking on getting most of those, but now you’ve sealed the deal for me.
    To the book store!

  8. Hey Mitch, thanks for the list of must reads, I have not read most of those books yet and was looking for more books to put on my list. (Life after the 30 second spot will remain on my night side table as a bible of sorts)
    A good question still remains, when can I get my hands on a book written by the rock star of digital marketing Mitch Joel???

  9. Thanks for the list Mitch! I was just thinking about what to read next so this is perfect timing.
    A great book that came out recently is “Microtrends” written by Mark J. Penn (Bill Clinton’s former pollster and strategist). Not strictly a marketing book per se, but a very insightful and compelling book about emerging trends in the US and to a lesser extent, worldwide.

  10. I agree with Mitch Joel about the essence of a good book: It has a new perspective.
    Actually that is what I find interesting about the whole business bookmarket: Which books last longer than the time it takes to read them? I think Made to Stick did, I think Blink (which I by the way translated to my native tongue Danish) and Tipping Point did (are they biz lit?), I think Blue Ocean Strategy did. And many others.
    But I also enjoy reading stuff, not directly related to marketing, but eventually literature that makes me think in new ways: Dream Society, Creative Man (www.cifs.dk), The Black Swan.
    My all-time favorite is Orbiting the Giant Hairball (Amazon.com has it). A thrill of a book, personal, beautiful, unique, walking the talk, and revolutionizing in its own way.

  11. Hmm.
    Didn’t mean to imply that “cool new shiny stuff” was the motive for staying on top of popular culture. (that’s something an advertiser would say,so I understand the misunderstanding given my ex-patriot past)
    Instead I mean to suggest that the people who write marketing books often are getting their concepts from those sources.
    That’s not exactly new in the marketing space. Everything we do is an echo to a greater cultural circumstance that paves the way for us to move in. We should try and keep that in perspective. Once in a while a book precedes the cultural revolution… but it is rare,rare,rare.
    The nature of the internet allows you to get your sources from the same place as Jaffe, Godin, Tapscott and the rest.
    Why only learn from them, when you can learn WITH them…
    I take my hats off to every book listed in this post and comments for their contribution! It proves the authors leadership in the space. Reading the book does not.
    Thats the point i was trying to make.
    As always mitch… a great discussion.

  12. Dealing with books, when are you launching yours? I’ll bring it in the shuttle… You mentionned it in your podcast, but never gave any date, nor title, nor subject… seeing your 5 favorite gives hints though…

  13. I just realized something quite incredible. If I brought my ‘Bible’ and ‘A Big Life (in advertising)’ (Seth referred to this one in one of his blogs by the way) that would be 67 books!
    No need to worry about weight. I know one thing for sure…during blast off I know which book I would be holding onto, tight I might add, real tight.
    iLoveu Mitch
    PS Whenever your book comes out…I know it will be good.

  14. Hey Mitch,
    Interesting topic. I would have to add The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell to the list. It helped explain memes and why things “go viral” before anyone was using that kind of language.

  15. Mitch,
    Great list. In addition to Meatball Sundae, here are my top choices…
    1. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
    2. Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba.
    3. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams
    4. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
    5. The Eyes Have It: How to Market in an Age of Divergent Consumers, Media Chaos and Advertising Anarchy by Kevin Lee and Steve Baldwin
    Thanks again for the post. I cant wait to check out some of the other titles. -Marketing Prowess Editors

  16. a recent book that i read on easy ways of internet marketing was quite interesting. the author, Jeff Paul is supposed to be a professional in guiding people on web
    businesses and how to make easy money through the web while sitting at home! Was quite a captivating book! i advise you all to read it.

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