Rob Katz

Summer Reading Series: A Swing Through Amazon

Summer ReadingYesterday, I recommended a back issue of IDBAmerica; today, I?m piggybacking on conventional wisdom to determine my book recommendations. I am an infrequent user, but I am sold on their community-driven recommendation feature. You know what I?m talking about–if you click on a given book, Amazon runs a query through its database and tells you that other people who bought this also viewed/bought/enjoyed X. For instance, if you search for “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid“, Amazon would tell you that others interested in it also purchased “Capitalism at the Crossroads.” The search results are weighted using algorithms I could never claim to understand, but certain books appear before others in what seems to be a logical arrangement based on popularity or number of copies purchased.

So as an experiment, and in order to have something to write for this blog today, I spent some of my day playing around on Amazon with the social recommendations for various BOP books. I found that those who read C.K. Prahalad tend to also be interested in business strategy more generally, while Stu Hart’s readers are more likely to purchase a sustainability-related book along with “Capitalism.”

A book I’d not heard of, David Bornstein’s “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas“, scored well in relation to both books. It’s an anecdotal book about 9 of Ashoka’s social entrepreneurs. It figures to be good beach reading–inspiring tales of real people addressing real problems. Then again, you may have heard all that before.

Both Hart’s and Prahalad’s books also list Jeffery Sachs? “The End of Poverty” under the recommendation line. I?m not sure how I feel about this particular book–I am not a big proponent of ?more aid equals better aid,? and that’s what Sachs? argument feels like to me.

Anyway, rather than me telling you what’s recommended by, go check it out for yourself! It’s a great way to see some old favorites (Amartya Sen’s Development As Freedom) and some good new choices as well (Bjorn Lomborg’s interesting How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place). Happy reading!