Nonfiction books are a fragile commodity, and I use the word “commodity” advisedly. We are increasingly being bombarded with ever more abbreviated forms of information, and much of what we want to learn about in more depth is freely available via a simple Google search. Yet publishers keep churning out boilerplate books that target the enthusiastic novice. Dog breed books are a classic example—perhaps a quarter of the text is devoted to the specific breed and the rest is generic stuff that appears in both the Yorkshire Terrier and the Irish Wolfhound books.
The reality is that few nonfiction writers have 250 pages of original or imaginatively synthesized thoughts in them. Just think, for instance, about how most trading books are padded with the seemingly mandatory, usually thoroughly uninspired concluding chapter on risk management.
Moreover, even among reputable publishers there is an uptick in blurring the line between information and advertising in books that, while purporting to educate, also promote a product.
It’s therefore not surprising that entrepreneurial spirits have entered the world of self-published mini-books, often merging information with product- or self-promotion. These mini-books are an upscale version of infomercials.
Michael Bigger’s How Traders Achieve Creative Flow, which he kindly sent to me for review, falls into this category. Actually, Bigger is even more minimalist because he turned over authorship of at least a third of the text to other writers (Sean McLaughlin and Renita T. Kalhorn). At 41 pages in length and available only digitally, it doesn’t come cheap. Well, yes, of course it does at $9.99, but if you consider that Scott E. Page’s 296-page Diversity and Complexity (paperback only) is $13.07 on Amazon or Crossley’s 544-page bird identification book with 640 color plates is $21.00, you’re paying something of a premium. Is it worth it?
Perhaps, especially if you are interested in Internet dynamics and how blogging, and interaction with your followers, can ostensibly improve your trading bottom line. (Don’t look to me for proof of this claim.) But there’s an element of hucksterism and self-promotion in this e-book, and I think that in the final analysis the trader has better sources of inspiration. I will, however, share one of the author’s thoughts: “Everyone is a genius for at least five minutes a day. Capture that moment.”
Alas, I don’t think that my last five minutes came anywhere close to rising to the level of genius.