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Speed Reads

Business writer David Stauffer receives hundreds of business books free each year as owner of Stauffer Bury Inc., a Red Lodge, Montana, business writing firm that compiles management information and produces business publications for corporate clients.

With so many tomes and so little time to read them, Stauffer has learned to sift the good from the bad at a glance. Here, he offers his tips for sizing up business books in a hurry:

  • Read reviews online. Business magazines and newspapers regularly run reviews of the latest business books. Find them online at the publications' Web sites.
  • Check the book's index for a person or topic with which you're familiar. Flip to those pages to see if the author says anything new on the subject. If it's just the same stuff, skip the book.
  • Count the authors. Too many spoil a book. "Chances are the author with the least experience did all the writing," says Stauffer.
  • Avoid "cure-all" books. A book that promises solutions to all your business problems will likely do no more than deplete your cash flow.

Contact Sources

Ed Pankau, c/o Pankau Consulting, (713) 224-3777,

Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., fax: (415) 362-2512,

David Stauffer, c/o Stauffer Bury Inc.,

Elizabeth Millard ( is a freelance writer who frequently uses her private investigative skills while researching articles.

Carla Goodman ( writes about small-business issues for Entrepreneur and other national business magazines.

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Get a Clue.

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