The Great American Idea Book. OK, it’s out of date (1993) and out of stock, but spending $2 for a used copy online could be a great investment. Surveys almost all the ways to turn ideas into income, from music to inventions to starting a business. A surprise to me: Writing books ranks high for reward vs. risk. Your biggest expense is time (if you have computer and printer), your work is automatically protected by copyright laws, and publishers give reasonable cuts. Recording artists can actually lose money because companies pass on so many expenses!
Jump Start Your Brain, by American Inventor judge Doug Hall. Loved the anecdote about how Three Stooges Seltzer scored market-research raves from men, grunts and groans from women.
Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation. Makes the case that if it ain’t broke, you should still try to fix it, or the world will pass you by, and that those “difficult” creative types can be a company’s most precious asset.
Blink and Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. Although Blink isn’t specifically about creativity, it offers a fascinating glimpse at how we often know things at a glimpse. Tipping Point artfully explores why some fads and social phenomena catch on and others don’t, and how one cool consumer or well-friended evaluation freak can make a crucial difference.
Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, by Dave Balter, founder of BzzAgent, a marketing company that taps networks of consumers with a passion to try products and talk about them. The book makes a case why many spread-the-word campaigns fail while smear campaigns backfire. Reviewers up on marketing books found it self-serving and overstated, but, as more of a novice, I found the discussion intriguing.
Cracking the Millionaire Code: Your Key to Enlightened Wealth. While this book has its corny, gimmicky side (it’s burstiing with puzzles and acronyms), which shouldn’t be surprising since a co-author created the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, its main message hits home with me: You wanna be successful? Make your enterprise partly a charity to benefit worthy causes. Make helpful products, and do unto your customers as you would have businesses do unto you. Whether you’re religious or not (this book talks about a Higher Power being important to all success, and suggests tapping into prayer), you’ll still find interesting and inspiring angles here, including ideas for generating ideas.
Author Unknown, by Donald Foster. OK, this fascinating book’s not so much about creativity, but how each person’s originality / uniqueness provides clues to mysteries about authorship. Foster cracked the identity of “Anonymous,” who wrote the bestseller Primary Colors, and builds a compelling case that Henry Livingston Jr. was the real writer of the poem most people call “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”