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5 Influential Books All Bloggers Should Know

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of June 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Today Chris Garrett (my co-author from the ProBlogger Book) shares 5 influential books that bloggers will find useful – all of which heavily influenced me (Darren) in my blogging).

Blogging is relatively new in the scheme of things, but even so, there are some conventions and ideas that are already well embedded in blog “culture”.

For example, how many times have you heard the phrase “content is king”? It’s pretty clear where that idea is meant to lead, for some other phrases some more context is required. The following five books have become not just best sellers and famous, but actually launched whole new ways of thinking about what we do and their titles have become mainstays of blogging conversation.

I am not saying you should go run out and buy these books right away, but knowing about the books and the concepts they put forward can help you understand better when someone tells you that “your blog needs to be a Purple Cow and leverage the Long Tail”!

1. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Seth Godin could have appeared on this list quite a few times. He is the bloggers blogger, the guru of gurus and the master of the short, strangely titled, mind expanding best-seller.

Whenever you hear someone talking about being unique, saying you should aim to be “remarkable”, you can almost guarantee they have read and absorbed this book.

Seth’s advice is to stand out, be noticed and memorable, make being remarkable the core of what you do. That’s basically it, the book is pretty much a long essay to get that point across. While I have summed up the entire book in not many words, reading the book helps you understand and inspires you to take the idea and run with it.

2. The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

Before Tim Ferris there was the E-Myth. You hear about “passive income”, “outsourcing”, “working on your business and not in it”, and you can bet at some point E-Myth (the Entrepreneur Myth) will pop up. He says that many people considered entrepreneurs are really technicians and craftspeople creating their own “jobs”.

In some ways Michael E Gerber, Mr E-Myth, is the anti-Seth. Rather than saying you should be remarkable and hire remarkable people, he says real success comes from creating systems that remove the need for you to be present and working 24/7.

People try to do everything, achieve their goals through their own efforts. Equate success with “hard work”. Great systems mean you maintain quality and can take vacations.

The E-Myth books basically teach you that you don’t have to work yourself into an early grave. That with good systems and shared load you can achieve more by working less.

3. The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual

“Markets are conversations”

“It’s all about the conversation”
“join the conversation”

You can blame the Cluetrain for these sayings. I actually asked if Cluetrain was still relevant and got some interesting answers (http://www.chrisg.com/cluetrain-social-media/). It seems most fondly remembered by old-timers (those who started blogging in the 90’s) but you still see the phrases used over and over.

Unlike the others you can actually read Cluetrain online and for free so you have no excuse for not at least dipping in and seeing what you are missing.

4.The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

This phrase turns up everywhere now. At one time I only heard it in SEO circles, now I hear it on TV business bulletins. Chris Anderson has created a monster!

He says that we are increasingly turning away from the mainstream and instead going further and further into our own niches. The Long Tail is used to justify and champion the cult-favorite book that isn’t going to be a best-seller, the band that never charts but does OK live, and the blog about obscure 1960’s pulp science fiction with ten readers. Unfortunately the premise can be stretched further than was likely intended. Don’t give up your day job for that blog about walrus polishing just yet.

The idea for is that you can make money from many seldom searched for phrases or rarely purchased items. In aggregate these long tail pages or products match or beat blockbusters and best sellers. So Amazon, with their million-strong inventory, can make real money from selling a lot of items a few times, as much as selling Harry Potter over and over. A blogger can have one or two super-performing pages that bring in hundreds of thousands of page views, or millions of visitors by having thousands of pages that bring in fewer visitors each.

5. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

We use the phrase “Tipping Point” to indicate when our fortunes seemed to transform, that instant when everything changes for the better (or worse). The book is about how tiny changes, sometimes seemingly unrelated, can have big knock on effects.

Malcolm Gladwell basically wrote the book on Memes that everyone could follow. He talks about other subjects you might recognize, such as “Mavens”, “Connectors” and “Stickiness”. If you ever wanted to read more about why “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” is important, this is the book for you.


As I say above, the main point of this article was to show where some popular and much-used blogging sayings came from. Understanding how the ideas originated helps you work out when and if they apply to your situation. Some phrases are thrown around just because “everyone knows it’s true”, which is as you know something we should always be wary of online!

Should you read these books? While they are absolutely not “essential” purchases, I think any one of these books would both give you some fresh ideas and perspectives, and be entertaining light reading.

Have you got any suggestions for influential books I have missed? Please share in the comments.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I have used the ideas that are discussed in The Tipping Point in my online businesses to grow slowly and surely till the point where I gain the success that I have been aiming for over time. I would recommend reading the tipping point also!

  2. I think you can get away with reading a short summary of tipping point. It was interesting and a quick read, but the phenomena is only really useful when looking back at when a tipping point occurs.

  3. I own all except #2. Gotta get it if it’s Chris-endorsed :D

  4. The Tipping Point is possibly the most fascinating non-fiction book I have ever read. What’s remarkable is that it was put together in the mid-90s and so makes little or no reference to the internet and yet you can recognise its relevance to a blog almost immediately. I consider myself very fortunate that I finally got around to reading it last August – just as I started blogging!

    By another coincidence, I have just started reading Purple Cow. Just a few pages in and I am already impressed.

    And Kirk, however old these two self-help books may be (I haven’t read the others so I can’t comment on them) they are still highly relevant to bloggers and are well worth reading – computer desk not coffee table.

    I also get the impression that Darren and Chris do well enough on Associates, etc, without having to crowbar book ads into a post just for the sake of it!

  5. I not sure I understand why these five books are viewed as essential?

    Perhaps, someone can clue me in.

  6. Hi – great list, Darren. I would like to mention another one though – 101 Blogging Essentials. It may not be as comprehensive as some of the other books, but it gives straight forward tips, and ideas to help bloggers succeed online.

    I’d also want to add in your book – ProBlogger. I’ve just finished reading it, and I must say, it covers it all!

    Cheers and good luck!

  7. To Reginald and others who ask why these titles are essential, you must remember that Darren Rowse is a full-time blogger and makes money from his blogs. He says this in so many words at the bottom of the screen.

    His blogging is not just a hobby but a means for him to survive. As such, he tries to impart tips and suggestions for you and me and others to follow his model of success.

    There is no better way to talk about success than explore solid marketing and business books that express that very element. I haven’t read any of the books he suggests above (err, I read some of The Tipping Point), although I do know of the authors. I know their backgrounds and have a basic understanding of what makes them tick to better comprehend why Darren recommends them.

    If your purpose in blogging is to make money like Darren, follow his suggestions. If your purpose in blogging is to use the blog as a “web log” or “online journal,” you can still get something out of the books, no different than listening to AG Lafley, John Quelch, or Jack Welch speak about management dogma.


  8. The best marketing book I ever read was David Meerman Scott (his blog: http://www.webinknow.com/) book called The New Rules of Viral Marketing.

  9. Great list, I have some reading to do it seems…

  10. Great list.
    Have read The tipping point. I would say it is undoubtedly one of the best books written in recent times which elucidates the point crystal clear. Amazing book!

  11. the tipping point is the one which helps a lot to the new bloggers like us.

  12. Online Revenue,

    At least, you have already read two books. I have to get caught up.

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