Business Book Summary Resources

Book summaries can be a useful way to keep up with business thought, trends, leaders, and concepts. Below is a look at the various book summary options currently available, with some freely available resources listed first followed by a table summarizing the key features of each fee-based service.

I’m sure the information I have provided isn’t complete and will change over time, so if you have any comments or information to share, please do so.

Why I Am No Longer a Soundview Affiliate
I used to be an affiliate of Soundview’s Executive Book Summary service but they removed me from their program because I refused to stop linking to freely available summaries (see below).

For some history, Soundview used to offer sample summaries for direct download, which I made available on this site. At some point, they changed their approach and now request people fill out a form to access the sample summaries. They contacted me and asked me to stop making those .pdf summaries available from my server, which I promptly agreed to do. However, I subsequently noticed that BNET still offers summaries (some .pdf and some audio) directly from their site. Soundview noticed that after I removed my direct downloads I was linking to the BNET downloads and asked me to stop doing so.

Now, the entire nature of MBA Depot is to point people to the best, manually reviewed, free business resources around the Web. If it’s out there, I consider linking to it entirely appropriate. Soundview seems to feel otherwise. I quite naturally asked why they don’t just ask BNET to stop offering the content in which case my links would become useless and I would naturally remove them, but in fact, I was dealing with Soundview’s affiliate managment company, not Soundview directly, so that question was never answered.

So, on principle I have decided to forgo the affiliate revenue in favor of providing the BNET links. I still think Soundview has a good product, but I’ll leave it to you to decide whether a company that behaves as they have deserves your business.

Free Individual Summary Downloads

I have found that some Soundview summaries are still available around the Web (see “Why I Am No Longer a Soundview Affiliate” above). I don’t know if these will be removed or not. In the meantime, I am posting direct links to the summaries I found (some .pdf and some audio).

  1. The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey
  2. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
  3. The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave by Leigh Branham
  4. Blink (PDF | Audio Summary) by Malcolm Gladwell
  5. Time Traps (PDF | Audio Summary) by Todd Duncan
  6. Crucial Confrontations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
  7. Off The Cuff: What to Say at a Moment’s Notice (PDF | Audio Summary) by Anne Cooper Ready
  8. The Enthusiastic Employee by David Sirota, Louis A. Mischkind and Michael Irwin Meltzer

Free Book Summary Services

  • Actionable Book Summaries offers weekly summaries of top business books (currently 566 on offer).
  • BookJive Free Business Book Summaries Archive. Bookjive is a wiki site where you will find free summaries for an ever-increasing quantity of books that are written by actual readers. The site is attempting to create a community where people are able to share not only what they have read, but discuss the topics presented in each book in regards to how it helped, what it meant, where it took you, what it made you think about. For some books you will also find excerpts, reviews, price comparisons, related books, related resources, etc.
  • Squeezed Books is basically a wiki site offering free business book summaries created collaboratively by anyone who cares to contribute; something akin to BookJive. Unfortunately, as I have been following the site, it seems to get more spam entries than real ones. Still, it might be worth a look and with some help might improve over time.
  • Matt Vance has taken notes on books that he has read or listened to. Not all books are business in nature and some notes are much more complete than others, but he does have a fair number of business titles and they are organized by topic.
  • WikiSummaries is another wiki site, but one that seems to have only a handful of titles at present.
  • ReadItFor.me is a weekly podcast that aims to reveal the best takeaways and instantly applicable ideas from the world’s best business brains. It is free but requires a subscription (just name and email address requested).
  • FleetSummaries.com is a site that publishes free business book summaries in PDF, MP3 audio, HTML, mind map, and e-reader formats on a weekly basis.

Paid Book Summary Services (listed alphabetically)

ProviderPrice/YearSummaries / YearAccess to Archives?FormatsFree Sample?Group License?
100 Must ReadsPay What You Want*48YesPDF, MP3NoNo
Notes: Used to charge $97 but now has moved to a “pay what you want” model, which is actually misleading because you cannot, in fact, pay what you want. You can choose from three different prices: $25, $50 or $75. Perusing the book covers listed as included in the collection, I have to say very few would make MY list of 100 must read business books. I suspect this is because this service is brought to you by an executive coach so many of the titles are focused on motivation and self-improvement rather than business concepts and skills.
Audio-TechClassic – $149
Silver – $199
Gold – $249
24YesMP3 & iTunes Audiobook, PDF, Mobi, ePubGet one free summary by filling out the form (name, email) at the bottom of the main page.No
Notes: Each audio summary is 45 minutes in length; New subscribers receive 8 FREE Classic Audio Summaries selected by the top managers of America’s leading companies as the most important business books of our time. Silver subscribers also get CD format. Gold subscribers also get author interviews and summaries of the 250+ greatest books of the decade.
Business Book ReviewNote: Seems to have been purchased by Business Summaries
Business Summaries (BizSum)$69 – 6 months
$99 – 12 months
$9.95 – individual summary
250Yes PDF, HTML, MP3, and iPhone2 Free summaires (requires email address)Yes
Notes: Used to offer a free Lite version but seems to have been eliminated. Also, they used to advertise offering summaries in PPT, cideo, and mind map formats but I don’t see that now.
execuBooks$99.0052YesPDF, Palm Reader, Microsoft Reader, Acrobat eBook Reader, BlackberryBuilt to LastYes
Notes: On my latest visit to the site, there is no longer any pricing information available but rather says they offer customized pricing to suit organization needs, so I presume they are moving away from individual subscriptions. I am leaving the old pricing here but I hae no idea if it is still valid. The sample summary link is still valid.
getAbstractSilver – $89;
Gold – $179 (6 months)
Gold – $299 (1 year)
Platinum – $999
Silver – 30 (4 you choose);
Gold and Platinum – unlimited access
Silver – No;
Gold – Yes
PDF, Kindle, ePub, MP3. Gold and Platinum also get apps for all major phones.2 Free (requires a signup)Yes
Notes: Claims to be the world’s largest collection, with over 10,000 summaries and 500 new summaries every year. Summaries are available in English, German, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, French and Portuguese. Gold subscribers also get video talks. Platinum subscribers further get economic reports.
SoundviewStandard – $99.00
Premium – $199.00
Premium Audio – 229.00
36With Premium PlanText, Audio and apps (iOS, Android) See above for direct downloads or download Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell (you must provide an email address)Yes
Notes: Standard subscription gets the summaries, reviews of 48 other top books, and access to webinars. Premium further gets access to the archive, bonus videos and access to the professional development newsletter. Premium Audio further gets you the monthly summaries on CD via mail.
Summaries.com1 Month (4 summaries) – $12
1 Year (50 summaries) – $100
5 Archive Summaries – $15
50 Archive Summaries – $100
Platinum (900 Summaries) – $450
50For a feePDFThe New Experts by Robert Bloom (PDF, MP3, Kindle, ePub)

The 1 Hour Plan for Growth by Joe Calhoon (PDF, MP3, Kindle, ePub)

Hard Goals by Mark Murphy (PDF, MP3, Kindle, ePub)

No
The Business SourceSilver- $130.00
Gold – $305
Platinum – $695
24*NoPDF, Kindle, ePub, and MP3 (Video available for Platinum plan)Small Move, Big Change By Caroline L. Arnold

Work Rules! By Laszlo Bock

Yes
Notes: In addition to summaries a subscription gets you “memory sticks” (a one-page condensed summary of the book’s main points). Gold subscribers also get summaries of 100 “must read” books and “Business Success in a Nutshell” (key insights from 5 of the best books every written). Platinum subscribers further get access to a video library of 50 books and summaries for 50 investment books.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Steve,

    I have added your site to the main text and it looks like a promising addition, though I haven’t yet checked out any of the entries. As for feedback, I like the simplicity of the site but you might consider adding a bit more on the What’s the Deal? page about you and anyone else who is actually creating the summaries.

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