Sunday, June 14, 2015

Theory of Books

Most books are way too long, because of the convention that a non-fiction book needs to be close to 100,000 words. The authors bulk them out with lots of filler.

The world needs fewer books and more essays. Think of the signal to noise (filler) ratio of a Paul Graham essay, like Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule.

That leads to compressibility as an interesting metric of the quality of a book. What's the ratio of filler to big, new ideas?

Why are the Credit Bubble Stocks "5/5" books good? They're incompressible. Think of Ben Graham's Security Analysis. Can you summarize all that wisdom in a few paragraphs?

Why are the business biography books often 3/5 or 2/5? Because you can summarize them in a sentence: "sociopath took insane risk, got lucky".

Applied investing books that people think are good (but aren't) can be summarized as: "here's a technique that used to work, stopped working when everyone figured it out, that you can have for $29.99".


innerscorecard said...

James Altucher made a good point recently on a podcast that self-publishing now should mean that books need only be as long as they should be, as there isn't a publisher telling you it has to be a certain length to really be a book.

ADL said...

@Innerscorecard--true, but it cuts both ways; there might also not be an editor (however feeble and incapable) telling you to lose the 77-page dream sequence with the blue panda...

@CP: This is brilliant

CP said...

One other thing to realize about our fellow investors - they enjoy reading investor biographies to live vicariously.

innerscorecard said...

Yes, investing books really are like self-help books in the needs they fulfill for most readers.