Seth Godin's Amazon Book Reviews

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Seth Godin's Amazon Book Reviews

Key Takeaways

  • According to readers and reviewers of Seth Godin's This is Marketing, some of the things they mention as being important to them are:
  • Readers of This is Marketing feel that the author fell short in two main ways:
      • Marketing and promotion: the author encouraged fake and fraudulent reviews from readers in exchange for free copies and an exclusive opportunity to meet him.
      • Book content, structure, and flow: the book lacks value, has repurposed/rehashed content from previous works and blogs, is not coherent, makes bold and unsubstantiated claims, has irrelevant examples, is a laborious read, is an underwhelming read, among other things.

Introduction

We have provided the patterns and themes by analyzing some of the reviews left by readers on the Amazon pages of some of Seth Godin's marketing books. While this analysis may not be all-encapsulating due to the high number of reviews, we have looked at the top reviews that other people found useful and gleaned some insights, themes, and patterns.

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See

What Readers Mention as Being Important

  • According to readers and reviewers of Seth Godin's This is Marketing, some of the things they mention as being important to them are:
  • Below are examples of reviews that show what readers consider important:
    • "Let me be clear upfront: I’m a huge SG fan and believe his approach to Marketing is spot on. I was very hopeful and anticipated this new release for months. I was looking forward to a work that tied all of Mr. Godin’s theories and advice together in one volume. As soon as it was available I ran out, bought it and scurried home to devour it. My hopes were quickly dashed in my quest for some “meat”, something of genuine value, something I could put to use in my daily job as a marketer. Unfortunately, the book Is really just a continuous string of Mr. Godin’s ramblings on various topics he’s discussed in previous works. All of a sudden I was skipping huge swaths of examples and musings in the hope of finding something useful. I know Mr. Godin has a lot of useful advice and insights, but I just couldn’t find anything I could sink my teeth into in this particular book. I’m hugely disappointed. I know Mr. Godin can do much better than this."
    • "I purchased this book because Seth lured me by offering a code would give access to a community with tons of value. The tons of value were more or less videos I could watch on YouTube too and a groupie-like community. Seth never showed up. He added some stale content and closed the threats to make sure his readers understand that he's not planning to interact. He then (or his staff) tried to motivate us to review his book for an "exclusive opportunity" to sit by a short event where Seth would actually show up. Video reviews only. This is why a book with re-purposed content from a blog can have so many video reviews in such a short time. No, thanks. I'm not into that pop star thing and I feel you should treat people, especially people who support your work, with respect and care. Please don't insult my intellect while you attempt to manipulate me. Seth does deliver a lot of value. But so do others that don't have a "prettiest cheerleader" attitude. This is an incredible lesson on self-marketing and selling for when you have reached the size where you can pull something like this off. It's also a great lesson on the importance of humility and respect. I feel Seth should re-visit some of his older work and practice what he teaches."

Why Readers Bought the Book in the First Place

  • Some reasons why readers bought the book are:
  • Most readers are big fans of the author and were anticipating a book that ties all of Seth Godin's theories and sound marketing advice in one comprehensive volume.
  • The author was offering a special code to access a community of value.
  • The book had a lot of hype before it was published.
  • Below are examples of reviews that show why readers bought the book in the first place:
    • Let me be clear up front: I’m a huge SG fan and believe his approach to Marketing is spot on. I was very hopeful and anticipated this new release for months. I was looking forward to a work that tied all of Mr. Godin’s theories and advice together in one volume. As soon as it was available I ran out, bought it and scurried home to devour it. My hopes were quickly dashed in my quest for some “meat”, something of genuine value, something I could put to use in my daily job as a marketer. Unfortunately, the book Is really just a continuous string of Mr. Godin’s ramblings on various topics he’s discussed in previous works. All of a sudden I was skipping huge swaths of examples and musings in the hope of finding something useful. I know Mr. Godin has a lot of useful advice and insights, but I just couldn’t find anything I could sink my teeth into in this particular book. I’m hugely disappointed. I know Mr. Godin can do much better than this."
    • "I purchased this book because Seth lured me by offering a code would give access to a community with tons of value. The tons of value were more or less videos I could watch on YouTube too and a groupie-like community. Seth never showed up. He added some stale content and closed the threats to make sure his readers understand that he's not planning to interact. He then (or his staff) tried to motivate us to review his book for an "exclusive opportunity" to sit by a short event where Seth would actually show up. Video reviews only. This is why a book with re-purposed content from a blog can have so many video reviews in such a short time. No, thanks. I'm not into that pop star thing and I feel you should treat people, especially people who support your work, with respect and care. Please don't insult my intellect while you attempt to manipulate me. Seth does deliver a lot of value. But so do others that don't have a "prettiest cheerleader" attitude. This is an incredible lesson on self-marketing and selling for when you have reached the size where you can pull something like this off. It's also a great lesson on the importance of humility and respect. I feel Seth should re-visit some of his older work and practice what he teaches."
    • "Maybe because the book received so much pre-publication hype I expected a new Bible of Marketing, or the first ever. And, when I finally read it, the book did not feel like a master piece but more like a rushed book that capitalizes on the reputation Mr. Godin earned with his previous books."

Where the Author Succeeded

  • Many readers believe that the book is a decent window into marketing and is best for beginner and intermediate marketers, as well as small business owners and people lacking a marketing background. Here are reviews that highlight this:
    • "Godin did a fair job at communicating different aspects of product/service marketing in this book. At times, his writing could have improved and needed a bit more clarity. However, for getting a better overview of marketing (as a beginner or intermediate marketer) it's worth a read. Small business owners and people without a marketing background may also benefit from reading this book."
    • "Nothing groundbreaking, but still a good read. Would recommend for those new to business."
    • "The author has some good ideas and examples but the narrative is very stretched out and repeated multiple times. It's good for new marketers but not someone already in the game looking to make the next leap."
    • "One of many good starting points for people entering the non-academic world of marketing. Provides a very readable overview of the boots-on-the-ground marketing experience."
    • "Great for the beginner marketer, a snore for the experienced marketer."

Where the Author Fell Short

  • Readers of the book feel that the author fell short in two main ways:
    • Marketing and promotion: the author encouraged fake and fraudulent reviews from readers in exchange for free copies and an exclusive opportunity to meet him.
    • Book content, structure, and flow: the book lacks value, has repurposed/rehashed content from previous works and blogs, is not coherent, makes bold and unsubstantiated claims, has irrelevant examples, is a laborious read, is an underwhelming read, among other things.
  • Here are reviews from readers on where they think the author fell short:
    • "This was such a waste of money and time. The book was a pain to read, it lacked so much substance and coherence. It felt like going through a draft of a scrapbook with endless irrelevant examples and useless incomplete analogies to explain very vague/ambiguous platitudes about marketing. Every chapter is basically a series of consecutive short paragraphs that rarely have anything useful to say. The book’s content had at best the consistency of an amateur’s blog post. Actually it felt like a lazy compilation of very short barely relevant blog posts. Save your money and your time..."
    • "This is a very superficial book with no substance. However, Seth Godin knows how to sell his stuff and how to create the illusion that "This is marketing" might be helpful. But it really isn't. His chapters are very short and without any depth. It's more like a little chit chat about marketing! One stupid chapter is called "Learning to see status". Quote: "The idea isn't nearly as simply as it appears. Consider, for those you seek to serve, their external status (how they are seen by their chosen community) and their internal status (who they see when they look into the mirror)..." Godin then puts different people in different "quadrants". Oprah Winfrey, for instance, is in the top-right. "This space belongs to people who see themselves as powerful", he writes. Then he talks about people in the bottom-left quadrant: "...is where we categorize people who see themselves as undeserving (and the world agrees). This is Cinderella before the ball, never expecting a chance for more. This is the coal miner, fighting to keep a dangerous, low-paying job." Then Godin vaguely talks about "...before we do the analysis..."which is nothing else than repeating different people he puts in different categories or "quadrants". Now, if you think this will bring you any further, I would be very surprised. I would never buy this book again. It only serves the author. A total waste of time and money."
    • "He then (or his staff) tried to motivate us to review his book for an "exclusive opportunity" to sit by a short event where Seth would actually show up. Video reviews only. This is why a book with re-purposed content from a blog can have so many video reviews in such a short time."
    • "Painful to read: the author needs to learn how to write in an engaging manner first. This is boring as hell, you won't learn anything from most pages. The first wave of 5-star reviews were all fake too, from people who received the book for free or his friends/shills. I find no other explanation."
    • "Listen to the 1-star reviews!: Like others have said, this book is a collection of vague, half-formed generalizations you've heard better explained elsewhere. It's like he threw together a bunch of blog post DRAFTS and called it a book, banking on his name recognition and popularity. The glowing reviews are all from starry-eyed marketers who thought they'd get to meet/interact with Seth by reviewing it well! They got the book for free or in exchange for positive reviews. If anything, get this book from your library. IT IS ZERO PERCENT WORTH YOUR MONEY! If this was written by a first-time author, IT NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED."
    • "As a veteran marketer and Seth Godin fan I was very excited to read this. However, 70 pages in, I still haven't really learned anything new. It's speaking to the lowest common denominator. Despite his brilliance and accolades, it feels very self-important and borders arrogance at times. It feels forced and tired. Hopefully it gets better ..."
    • "Underwhelming read: This is the first Seth Godin book that I didn’t finish. Usually I would read them in 1-2 days. Just not feeling the value of this book. Not his best work."



Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

What Readers Complain About

  • "Doesn't go deep enough for me...Because of this, I think mentioning more than just the power of tribe and putting it in context of other actual leadership skills and challenges of leading from a place without privilege could have added depth to this book."
  • "I consider this more of a "messaging and inspiration" piece than anything with definitive steps to building a brand or setting yourself out there as a leader. It's a lot of him doing his Seth Godin thing, which is sorta ruminating on stories he's heard, people he's met, ideas that have come to him in the middle of the night. Very short little chapters that seem meant to get your mind grapes juicing, but don't expect anything concrete to work with."
  • "Platitudes and topic sentences: This is a terribly written book. The evidence presented is slim (when it is present at all) and the organization of the book is haphazard. This reads more like a stream of consciousness editorial pulled from blog entries than an actual book. The central themes appear to be a) tribes are groups of people that need leaders (AKA "you"); b) fear is bad and it stops you; and c) use technology to innovate. Among these ideas are scattered meaningless phrases that sound profound but are nothing more than truisms. Avoid this book and instead read something worthwhile about leadership and social groups and behavioral tendencies."
  • "The title tells you everything you need to know: Godin makes no bones about it — this is not a “how-to” book. It’s mostly just a series of short (very short!) essays on various things related to leadership. Nothing groundbreaking (though maybe it was when it was first published). Tribes are important — go out & be a “heretic.” There, now you have the gist of the book."
  • "Save your money. The problem with this book is not the content per se, but the lack of editing and layout. It is an incoherent combination of small streams of thought. You could mix up all the pages and you’d have the same product and reading experience. The lack of chapters or any length of one topic proves this point. The book is full of mediocre excerpts and one line paragraphs."

What Readers Mention as Being Important

  • Some readers believe the book could use extra depth:
    • "However I feel like the state of leadership and the inspiration behind this book is one that came from a limited and privileged world view. And because of that it is overly simple. Idealistically, hard charging and not taking no for an answer when your vision for something better is inspirational and rooted in a personal truth and conviction should be celebrated. But this book ignores the reality that operating in this way is a luxury that people of color and women often can't afford to do without more grave consequences than the risk of someone just "not getting it". Even his example of MLK as a person that just "did it" was an oversimplification because history shows that he was a reluctant leader initially and also that he was chosen early on by clergy and members of the SCLC because he was relatively unknown in Montgomery and was therefore possibly less immune to the danger and intimidation any black leader there would experience. Add to that the fact that public opinion at that time was overwhelmingly against him and even amongst black civil rights organizations of the time there wasn't overwhelming consensual his methods were even correct or inspiring change, and I think it illustrates my point further. We celebrate King now as a martyr and representation of persistence in the face of something wrong, but at the time many people did not see it that way. Because of this, I think mentioning more than just the power of tribe and putting it in context of other actual leadership skills and challenges of leading from a place without privilege could have added depth to this book."
  • While some readers admit that the book challenges them to get out there are and take action, many others criticize its lack of practicality.
    • "Basically, Godin puts everything on the table, and that makes this book sincere and inspiring. This is very much a book that makes you feel the need to stop reading, get out of bed, and start brainstorming the creation of a tribe of your own; that is what makes this a successful piece."
    • "Honestly I had a hard time getting into this book and ended up putting it down about half-way through. I think it lacks real workable advice."
  • The tone of delivery can be off-putting to some people:
    • "This could have been a great book but I did not enjoy the tone in which it was written. The whole book feels like Seth Godin is preaching at me from the pulpit. The message was great, the delivery was not to my personal taste. While explaining how to build tribes, it feels like Seth Godin is alienating his readers. Fair disclaimer: I did get this as an audiobook, which may contribute to my feelings about this book."
    • "Good book with many very valid points and ideas. However, the author seems to be very dismissive of good managers. Worth the read."
    • "Not a fan of his style. I think it was disorganized and loud."
    • "Aggravating in tone."

Why Readers Bought the Book in the First Place

  • Like many of Seth Godin's works, most customers bought the book because of the pre-publication hype around it.
  • It was a highly recommended read by friends and other marketers.
  • Other readers were either members or leaders of tribes and were looking forward to practical and useful nuggets to help them improve.
    • "I've been a member of on-line tribes since 1987, long before they became the flavor of the month. So I thought perhaps my disappointment in the book was just that it didn't give me anything new. But a quick reading of Amazon.com reviews shows many other readers were equally disappointed. Godin himself wouldn't see that as a bad thing — in fact, he would be delighted that not everybody loves him. But this is a different level of disagreement: I found the book bland and uninspiring, not bold and thought-provoking. And I don't think he would like that at all."

Where the Author Succeeded

  • The author succeeded in making the book easy to read and snackable.
    • "Great Standing in Line Book: I bought the Kindle version to download to my iPhone to read when every I'm waiting for something (at the Post Office to buy stamps, Dr. Appt, etc). This book was laid out perfectly for that, short sections that you can get through pretty quick in case you need to leave the book to do something. Seth does a great job of bringing about good stories to make his point and his shortly books are becoming famous for having stories supporting his concepts. Tribes is not different. He points out that we all belong to a tribe, something that we believe in, and that each tribe needs a leader to help the tribe find its purpose and why shouldn't that leader be you? That is the whole point of the book, you should be a leader of a tribe, a group of people that believes in something that you believe in. If you understand that concept, you can avoid the book, but if you don't understand it or want more detail, it's a good little book, and rather easy to read."
    • "I work for a small business, that is rapidly growing. The two founders/leaders of the organization gave everyone a copy of this book, and then we had to participate in discussions on it. The book is fairly easy to read as it is just bullet points and anecdotes, one right after the other. I read through it twice in order to participate in the discussion. One thing that comes to mind when reading this book is "Jerry McGuire" as the character in that movie opposes the status quo in search of real meaning and of leading people who are true fans/followers. Other takeaways from the book: A leader of a tribe does not get permission, or follow rules, or wait to be asked — a leader just does it. A tribe follows that leader because the leader is passionate about what they are doing/creating and/or where they are going. A tribe is not a "hierarchy" that is found in some companies with higher and higher levels of position. With a tribe, the more you want in, the more you are in."
  • The book is short and to the point.
    • The short statements that make up the content of the book do get across the point of the book in a brief manner without any filler, which does work to its advantage. The book's more casual tome makes it a light read that a dedicated reader can knock out in a couple of hours without losing much of the impact. Godin's examples help back up the logic behind his statements, and his tips for success, while brief, do come across as well-thought-out."
  • The book is inspirational and motivational, especially for emerging leaders:
    • "This book is written as an inspirational primer for emerging leaders desiring to initiate change. It will he helpful for many, although many more will find it pollyannish and simplistic. Why? Because the book is short on substance. I'd recommend this book to anyone who needs an inspirational kick-in-the-pants in being a change-agent--especially for those who may not have a formal management/leadership role. For everybody else just read Switch by Chip and Dan Heath."
    • "This book has become one of my favorite books, and I’m a self-help junkie. The things Seth says about a tribe and my part in it is never far from my mind. It has changed how I see my website, the books I write, my place in the world, and it has changed how I perceive myself."
    • "I found this to be a very inspirational book on the topic of daring to be a leader. "

Where the Author Fell Short

  • According to some readers, some of the ways the author fell short include:
  • The book is flawed with silly generalizations: "Godin is quick to lavish scorn on those he dislikes or disrespects, and apparently the 12 or 13 million people who work in or for the U.S. nonprofit sector are high on his list. (Presumably, that would include me.) For example, he writes, "Take a look at the top fifty charities on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's top four hundred charity list. During the last forty years, only a handful of charities on this list have changed. Why? Because donors didn't want to take risks." Godin's writing is littered with silly generalizations like this."
  • The book has a flawed presentation: "One of the major flaws of the book comes not from the content but from the structuring. Godin divides the different sections of the book into short groups of paragraphs that typically run no longer than a page or two. While this method makes the book a quick read, the sections occasionally lack a segway between them, making the transitions awkward in some places. In the case of a transition between the subject of leaders being strong enough in their field to make changes to one discussing how leaders must be generous, the shared subject of the temperament of a leader makes the two work in conjunction with each other. After examples of leaders, the subject abruptly shifts to that of settling and religion vs. faith, and the sudden shift is somewhat awkward to read. Had the book been split into traditional chapters, the awkwardness could have been avoided. Perhaps by using this unconventional method of organizing his content, Godin was trying to set an example of how his "Heretics" make changes to the established order, but in his case the change isn't to the benefit of the work."
  • The book has a lot of platitudes and somewhat disjointed editing. Godin bounces back and forth between trying to make the case for how much people crave change and how much they resist it. Many of the examples he presents of tribe building are entities of which I have never heard and whose success appears to be very narrow and limited. I found Godin's view of leadership to be superficial, primitive and outdated. Frankly, I struggled to get through this book simply because it lacked a compelling perspective. I view it as "insight that appeals to light weights."
  • The book is considered to be somehow repetitive.
    • "Good information for anyone, specially entrepreneurs. Great for a quick read and eye-opening, but a bit repetitive. Looking forward to the next book."
    • "However, the little which Godin says so often comes across sounding like a broken record to me. The status quo is bad.... Innovation is good... Effective leaders are "heretics" who change the status quo and innovate.... In repeating this Big Idea over and over and again and again, Godin does not seem to develop or support it beyond the shallow and superficial. For example, effective leaders also know when to preserve tradition, and how to maintain balance and stability when and where appropriate. In the final analysis I found this book to be a slight disappointment which did not measure up to all the hype."
    • "I love Seth's other books. Poke the Box is my fav. But for some reason I wasn't really feeling this one that much. Felt a little repetitive, and didn't give me the same excitement and ideas generated from some of his other books. I gave it 3 stars, every other Seth book I've read is an easy 5. It's still a good book, but I would recommend one of his other ones."
  • According to some readers, the book reads like a compilation of Godin's blog posts.
    • "Reading Experience: 5/10: If you are in Seth Godin's tribe, make it 10/10. If you are not, don't bother. Reading "Tribes" is like reading Seth's blog, the different is that it is in a book and it costs money. The contents are very random (surrounding the idea of leadership and technology) and you might be amazed by new and unrelated topics every a couple of pages or you might be annoyed by them."
    • "This "book" is a collection of blog rants that seem to repeat over & over. Seemed like a cheap attempt to get a quick buck."
    • "I don't think I need to read any more Seth Godin books--they are all starting to sound the same. Love his stuff, but I get just as much reading his blogs. He definitely is an innovative thinker and pushes you to think about the norms of marketing today."
    • "I kinda like him — he is inspiring and fairly relevant, but I don't think his musings can carry the book. All nice ideas, that really pack a punch when condensed into the brevity of blogging, but the book seems halfway done and just too much repetition. It reads like a series of drafts to an articles on the same subject and not like a fully edited book."
  • The book lacks substance and value.
    • "Unimpressive and lacking substance: I don't consider myself a fan of Seth Godin, but I have enjoyed many of his books. When I saw a video of him talking at TED Talks recently, I decided to order Tribes. The truth is that the book was more than adequately summarized by the speech he gave @ TED. Beyond that, I cannot help but agree with the reviewers that point out the lack of substance in this work by Godin... By the end of the book, you are inevitably left wondering why did he need to publish an entire book about it. There's really indeed an unfortunate lack of substance in Tribes."
    • "All Glitz with Little Substance: Godin takes complex ideas and translates them into morsel size bites; though memorable, they often fail to capture the intricacy and application of the business practice. I question if he even believes what he writes. Tribes, in particular, focuses on the well researched principles and practices of employee commitment, culture, and communication. Yet, Godin oversimplifies the topic and stretches it to make an entire book out of it. I can count on one hand how many nuggets of wisdom I got out of it. Ironically, he's known to criticize the Kardashians. In my mind, he’s kind of the Kardashian of business writing — all glitz with little substance."
  • Lacks supporting research or evidence.
    • "A series of loosely connected thoughts with little structure, supporting evidence, or cohesive arguments. Godin jumps from one disconnected thought to another and sprinkles in buzz words and cheesy saying to drone about his thesis. E.g. "managers make widgets. Leaders make change." "Leaders lead when they take positions." The above is about the most profound statements you'll find. The rest is disjointed, stream of conscious, nonsense. Another passage: Great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them. This is how Skype spread around the world. Cofounder Niklas Zennstrom understood that overthrowing the tyranny of the phone companies was too big a project for a small company. But if he could empower the tribe to do it themselves, to connect to one another and to spread the word, he would be able to incite a movement. Godin then proceeds to never mention this again."

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

What Readers Complain About

  • Terrible editing:
    • "Look, so far the actual message of the book is great. And perhaps for that reason alone, I’m here to share my disappointment with a sizable issue in the text of this piece that I truly hope they take the time to fix. The glaring problem that there seems to be at least one or two very obvious typos on every page. Whether it is the misspelling of a word, a space before a question mark, or a period missing at the end of the paragraph, it makes the text harder to read. The simple mistakes in this book are ridiculous. It almost looks like it was never edited before it was put into a Kindle book. As a writer myself, I know that if I’m going to publish something for sale, I damn well better have a second set of eyes go through a manuscript before I actually take it to market. It’s a bit offensive that they charged $15 for this, when they clearly didn’t spend any money on editing. Completely unacceptable."
    • "In spite of a bit of editing slip ups it's a very educating and interesting read. I like this author!! Thank you!"
  • Some readers found it redundant and unnecessarily repetitive:
    • "Let me start by saying that overall I’m very happy to have read this book. It launched some new ideas and introduced a unique perspective. That said, despite being written in such a small number of pages, the message was over delivered with an abundance of redundant examples. The premise is simple. In order to gain market attention, you must offer a “remarkable” product. While the author does provide ample case studies, there’s little in the way of actionable advice or framing on how one might apply this principle to their business. Again, glad I read the book as the concept was compelling but the simplicity of it felt like the whole book should be a chapter in a larger, more comprehensive guide."
    • "Has some good info but I feel like too much stuff in the book is just filler content."
    • "An interesting approach on driving the differentiation concept. The book is built around 1 single idea which gets repetitive at the end. Uses the color of the cow as a marketing gimmick — another commercial book by Seth Godin."
    • "I think that the point was made early on in the book, and there were just may more pages of the same message following. It was hard to make it through. I got bored with it."
    • "I like to take it one step further and sum up the book in one sentence: Seth is proposing that companies have to develop star products (he renamed "purple cows") and stop being followers. DONE."
  • The book is outdated:
    • "This is a small book and a quick read and if you're stuck on the marketing aspect of your business, definitely pick it up. Marketing and business guru Seth Godin makes a few very valid points in this book and backs everything up with real life examples. The drawback is that the book was published in 2002 and a few of the ideas and conclusions are outdated (i.e. his hypothesis that cell phone technology was dead with no further advancements probable) Still, I'll say it again, he does make some valid points and I found it worth having a look at. It could save you time, money and frustration in the long run."
    • "It's a good book but very outdated."
    • "I thought that the information in the book was very dated."
    • "The Purple Cow is an outdated book written over 13 years ago. Save your money. It's cute, but don't expect any insightful information on how to run your business. All fluff."

What Readers Mention as Being Important

  • Book readers want more than just examples. According to book readers, the book gave them lots of examples but no practical suggestions on how to come up with the purple cow.

Why Readers Bought the Book in the First Place

  • Some readers bought the book because it was offered at a 'buy two for reduced price' deal: "At the beginning of this book (which I only purchased because it was a 'buy two for reduced price' deal) Seth Godin goes to great lengths to describe how, during a vacation in Europe, he was admiring a field of Holstein cows and was suddenly inspired to consider what an impact a purple cow would have in the herd of black and whites."
  • Glowing reviews and recommendations from other people: "Having heard others describe this as a "visionary work" I read Purple Cow with great expectations."
  • Others bought the book because they were wowed by the author's genius from YouTube videos: "Great disappointment. Watched many of Seth's interviews on YouTube before buying this book, thought it would be decent."

Where the Author Succeeded

  • Many people found the book to be thought-provoking: " Thought provoking."
  • Other readers believe that this is a must-have for all business owners and marketers:
  • "This book has definitely motivated me to be a better entrepreneur and make my business one of kind. I would say that the target market is anyone trying to make money off of a product or service. Every business owner or employee should have a copy."
  • "This is the second book I have read by Seth Godin. I think this is a great book. It covers a fairly wide market segment with a very specific subject. Although not very deep and challenging, its concepts are easily accessible and speaks to people who have no clue about marketing as well as people who are in business leadership. Although not all of the book is written for a more seasoned marketer, there is plenty of great ideas for even the most curmudgeon, stuck-in-the-mud, business person."
  • "I really like this book. It is a must read for marketers and anyone in business."
  • Most people found the book to be remarkable, especially the concept of businesses standing out as the purple cow and using a unique selling proposition:
    • "I'm motivated to write this review mainly to offer a different opinion than some of the negative reviews I saw before I ordered this book. Be assured I am in no way affiliated with Seth Godin. But I must differ with those who feel they can summarize this book in one paragraph and claim that will suffice in lieu of reading this book. All I can say is I was glad I did not take that reviewer's advice. There is so much more to this book than they claimed that I can only wonder if all they read was the book jacket. Such a review seems to me a disservice to those who could benefit from this book. Seth Godin puts forth a revolutionary concept in marketing that is clearly self-evident. It leaves me thinking, "Why haven't I noticed this before?" In contrast to so many marketers who attempt to come up with clever ads and compelling sales letters to market mediocre products, this book offers a refreshing and honest education on how you can build your marketing right into the product itself. This book has forever changed how I will run my business."
    • "My first inclination was to give Purple Cow 5 stars. However, I reserve that rating for exceptional products. Godin focuses on product differentiation in Purple Cow. He also rehashes a lot from his previous books. Purple Cow is better written and more organized than Godin's earlier works. This is a good, quick read for those new to marketing or for people who want to reinforce the importance and benefits of product differentiation. (Give this book 5+ stars for its title and cover design!)"

Where the Author Fell Short

  • Lacks originality:
    • "I remember first reading Godin in Fast Company I believe, and then a few years later, participating in one of the Fast Company: Company of Friends groups nearby, one of the enterprising dotcommers said he had met with him. From this person's description, he was the Dalai Lama of the internet. So, I picked up Permission Marketing and IdeaVirus in the intervening years. Of course, permission marketing is now just called spam. Anyway, Purple Cow describes how traditional television advertising is no longer effective, and how marketing in the future needs to be conceived when the product is conceived. I guess I buy into that...but I don't think he is the first one to say it. Sergio Zyman comes to mind. He also goes into some examples of viral marketing once again, and in one chapter says Starbucks is passe since it is so large....but then in another chapter praises it for consistency across the world. I guess you can have it both ways. That is my quick summary of the book."
    • "I purchased and read this book as part of a book club at work. The leader had chosen it as it was on a recommended list from Zappos I believe. After getting through the first 40 or so pages I realized that anything remarkable that I had marked had actually been quotes from other authors books or theories. I emailed my Graduate Marketing instructor about the other books that had been cited in is reading and he responded that all were excellent books but had little to say about the Purple Cow. After finishing the book I can see why. The author asks more questions and gives less answers in this reading than any other book I have read. His advice is often along the lines of- find something that will make you remarkable and you will be remarkable... I didn't purchase this book to be given any significant answers to life's questions but I can say that I was disappointed that even flawed answers were not given. His examples and case studies were outdated, yes I realize the book was published over 10 years ago, but still they were unremarkable. I found myself having to pull, tooth and nail, to find any information or recognizable inspiration from these pages to share in our club. Not worth the $0.38 plus shipping that I had paid for it."
    • "As a master in popular writing(a remarkable auto seller) in this book, the author shows again his capability to make references to remarkable ideas from others (His merit, putting those examples in an original way. I think for this book title the author should have made a clear introductory reference an implicit permit) to the origin and to the practice of the purple cow: The European MILKA story. The story of a famous Swiss chocolate brand. Nothing against benefiting from remarkable ideas but a bit less self medailling would have made this publication more valuable. Theo Kerstjens professional brander)"
  • The book isn't actionable and is unremarkable: "I had high expectations for this book because I have wanted to read it for so long, and "purple cow" is mentioned often in other business books. However, it did leave me wanting. There was really no actionable content. It basically tells you to be different, to be remarkable."


All Marketers are Liars

What Readers Complain About

  • The writing style makes it hard for readers to understand and flow along with the author's ideas:
    • "I'm almost halfway through the book but I can't read it anymore b/c his writing style makes it hard to comprehend the ideas as you're reading. The books starts out with a few main points: different people share a "worldview"- find a common worldview and figure out how to reach that group (and sell to them) by telling them a "story"... Additionally, I'm having trouble getting through the rest of his book b/c of his writing style... it's somewhat "conversational". He writes as if he is talking to a live audience. Which is fine... if you hear a speech, it is easy to follow the speakers line of though because lack of phrases and complete sentences are compensated by tone of voice and voice pitch. It's okay to be grammatically informal if you're talking aloud to someone else - rises and falls in the voice, emotion, even facial expression, help you follow the ideas. But on paper, I'm finding this way of writing hard to follow. His ideas are already somewhat complex and need a lot of explanation... so the writing style makes it harder to understand... Reading this book is exhausting. I don't look forward to reading the rest."
  • Godin's insights get lost in many long-winded stories:
    • "While there are some good ideas in this book, like all his books they are buried in so many long-winded stories the valuable content gets lost. I think dropping names is a thing in Seth's writing which works only if you are familiar with the track record of that particular company. Many times he talks about the title lying and not lying about marketing are all lost on me and not funny. I only read 1/3 of this book and put it away. Thanks, Seth but count me out from here on out."
  • It contains nothing outstanding and is not original:
    • "I have heard much of Seth Godin. I decided to purchase 3 different titles and chose this one to read first. Honestly ....after finishing it .. I am still not sure what I just read. I am pretty sure that he suggests that marketers should not lie. But .. can't say for certain that stories that he calls "fibs" aren't somewhat just small lies. I like to use the highlighter when I purchase printed books. And I did highlight some, but not what I usually do. I didn't find anything so outstanding that I would rate this book anything other than OK. I have no plans to suggest it to anyone. Hopefully the other books I purchased (Linchpin and Purple Cow) will be better."
    • "This book is about marketing through story telling, rather than boring prospects about product features. This is not really a ground-breaking idea. I recall an advertising professor saying twenty years ago, "You don't sell tires, you sell safety."
  • Other readers think the book is lightweight and does not offer any substance:
    • "I find Seth Godin's books incredibly lightweight. There is really nothing of any substance here. The usual series of marketing anecdotes, normally about quite niche products. I think the whole thing can be summed up in the old advertising cliche: sell the sizzle, not the steak. He's just given it a new word - essentially he's dressing up well-worn concepts in new clothes. The book is poorly organized and repetitive, and I think he succeeds simply because his books are so lightweight - they're easily digestible on a bus ride or plane trip, don't rely on any support for his theories so they're not easily challenged, and essentially say very little. The marketing equivalent of the airport novel."
  • Some readers consider Godin to be unnecessarily repetitive in this book:
    • "His concepts are great, he's a brilliant man, but his book is basically him saying the same things over and over again while reinforcing how much of a joke all of our lives are. Look for his concepts online and save the money."
    • "Uninteresting and repetitive. I threw this away after reading the first half, couldn't convince myself to read more or to pass it on to others. Seemed like a run on advertisement for itself."
    • "You get the point about 1/3 into the book and then the same points keep being made."
    • "Very verbose & not entirely accurate."
    • "The title of the book is really all you learn; if you're a marketer, tell a story. Everything after the highlights is repetitive fluff. Would not recommend."

What Readers Mention as Being Important

  • According to readers, Seth Godin's marketing books present some complex ideas that have to be explained better. The author does not always do this, making his books exhausting and laborious reads.
    • "I didn't feel like I learned much from this book. It had a few new ideas but overall I wasn't impressed."
    • "Hmmm, not much meat on this bone... I find it hard to give this more than a couple of stars. I recommend you pass and look for a book on the subject that goes a foot or two deeper."
    • "Author makes a valid point ...but there are better books on the subject."
  • Other readers feel like the author's tone is preachy:
    • "I generally really like Seth Godin, so I must say that I've been disappointed with this book. In fact, I was reading it for work (yes, I have a boss who likes to assign reading), but I've stalled out half-way through this book and will be forcing myself to finish it. I feel like the only message I'm getting is that every story is a lie -- not a lot of examples as to how a company's story, wherever it fell on the lie/truth scale, managed to change the minds of a mass of people. A few stories, to be sure, but primarily it's "every story is a lie" ad naseum. I just felt preached to, and pounded over the head as if I wouldn't get the point otherwise. I just didn't like the approach at all. And, if every story is a lie, then his story must be a lie, so why should I read this?"

Why Readers Bought the Book in the First Place

  • Most people are Seth Godin's fans who love his work and read his blog frequently. They bought the book hoping to find the same value as from his other works and his blog.
    • "I love Seth Godin's work, read his blog daily, etc. I thought that I would spend some time reading his older books, since everything he does is gold, but I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as his newer works."
  • Others read the book since it was assigned to them at work or campus or was recommended by their favorite bloggers and friends.
    • "I was reading a blog I follow and All Marketers are Liars was recommended. Since I respect the blogger I had it in my Kindle that day."
    • "I was assigned this book to read for one of my marketing courses in university."
    • "A friend has been nice enough to send me Seth's blog for the last couple of months and I finally ordered three of his books to get the big picture."
    • "I generally really like Seth Godin, so I must say that I've been disappointed with this book. In fact, I was reading it for work (yes, I have a boss who likes to assign reading), but I've stalled out half-way through this book and will be forcing myself to finish it."

Where the Author Succeeded

  • This book is recommended by other authors and marketers as a must-have for marketers and non-marketers alike:
    • "It's a must read book for every marketer and every consumer. Marketers might be able to improve their performance, and consumer will understand why they do (and buy) what they do (and buy)."
    • "After reading many marketing books and teaching the subject, I would recommend this book to non-marketers who want to understand a framework for marketing."
    • "If you are in marketing, I highly recommend this book."
    • "Do Yourself A Favor - Read This Book: Today's world is different from yesteryear's world. Seth Godin is right on the mark with this book.
  • The author manages to etch the idea of story telling into the reader's mind:
    • "Everyone loves a good story..."
    • "This was the first of Seth's books that I read. I really enjoyed this book. His concept of storytelling your product to the consumer is straight genius. It's the framework of marketing that really got me thinking about how I run my business. What's written in the book will help your marketing mindset tremendously."

Where the Author Fell Short

  • Some reviewers found the author's work to be repetitive, poorly organized, and fluffy:
    • "This book would have made a nice HBR article, if condensed into 15 pages. Alas, I had to force myself keep reading after the first chapter (which I read in the bookstore, and which made me buy the book in the first place)As many others have noted, the book is overly repetitive, poorly organized and generally has too much fluff in it, portraying a simple concept as a sacred marketing elixir... 4 points for the first chapter, minus 2 points for the rest of the book."
  • Some readers felt like the book could have been shorter:
    • "I was assigned this book to read for one of my marketing courses in university. This book is great and really makes you rethink your purchase behaviors and how marketing stories (and storytelling) has affected your life. However, I agree with other reviewers that mention the style of writing. It's difficult to follow along with and many times, it seems that several paragraphs of text are just wonderments of the author since he randomly brings things up only to not mention it later. Additionally, the book comes off "ramble-y" sometimes. He repeats the same concepts in different ways dozens of times throughout the book and just keeps giving more and more examples of his point. Overall, I would recommend the first couple chapters of this book but once you start getting toward the end, the point starts to become moot."
    • "OK, I will start by saying I am always skeptical of business books because I always feel like they are telling us something we already know. AND EVEN if it is something I don't already know, is it necessary to have a 208-page book essentially saying the same thing over and over again? The book is chock-full of anecdotes, but all point to the same conclusion: the product must tell a good STORY. And to be honest, I am not so sure I buy into the use of the word "story". But, in any case, the author beats it to death. This book could have easily been summarized in a 2-3 page pamphlet. I noticed one reviewer included some quotes, most of which came within a 20-page span. As a book of stories, it works OK, but I think I would prefer a book like "The Tipping Point" before this one."



Unleashing the Ideavirus: Stop Marketing AT People!

What Readers Complain About

  • Some readers found the book to be a bit disjointed: "My main problem with Unleashing was the organization of the book. Unleashing the Ideavirus was a bit disjointed. It does not flow as nicely as the author's Purple Cow (by way a 5 star book!) which I would highly recommend."
  • It's outdated:
    • "Not a book that I would purchase again. A lot of info outdated. Maybe there is a more up to date book now."
    • "This book was probably good was it was new, but it was full of examples that were very dated and it was hard for me to focus on the concept with best practices that were ten years old."
    • "This book is OK but some of the ideas and examples are already outdated. Some of the sites featured in the book have already been shut down! Does this mean idea viruses don't necessarily work? Or perhaps everyone's trying to use the concept of idea viruses to market their business and so the concept has lost its fizzle?"
    • "Very interesting ideas that helped me think of marketing in a different way. I found that many of the examples were dated, as the book was written before the dot-com crash. We really returned to a business as more usually model than anyone thought we would at that time. However, still some very valuable ideas. They were a bit over-stated and the book is a bit repetitive, but still some good value."
  • The book is repetitive and could be shorter: "If you are looking for mind-blowing new ideas, you won't find them in this, or any other marketing book." Seth Godin prefaces his "manifesto" with the truth. My marketing text summed up the essence of this book in less than a page, under the Innovation Diffusion Process, which is "the spread of a new idea from its source of invention or creation to its ultimate users or adopters." This is to say that I felt Unleashing The Idea Virus, at 197 pages, is 196 pages too long winded in explaining that word of mouth marketing is more than just word of mouth marketing."

What Readers Mention as Being Important

  • Practicality of what they read: "Unleashing the Ideavirus offers practical ideas on how to spread a marketing message without spending a lot of money. Some of what Seth Godin describes may be more common sense than revolutionary."
  • Readers care about up-to-date information that is relevant in today's marketing landscape: "This book was probably good was it was new, but it was full of examples that were very dated and it was hard for me to focus on the concept with best practices that were ten years old."
  • Readers find it critical that authors practice what they preach. "Hats off to the author for practicing what he preaches. "Free" was exactly what I needed to engage in this virtual buy-in. I regret that I just couldn't buy the concepts."

Why Readers Bought the Book in the First Place

  • Most readers bought this book because they enjoyed Godin's previous work, "Permission Marketing."
  • "Like Godin's previous book, Permission Marketing, I found this book to inspire ideas, rather than give them. Godin has a knack for making people think - though I'm wondering if that was the intent with these books. If you are looking for definitive answers to business and marketing questions, steer clear of this one. If you are looking for a book that will get you thinking about the applications of viral marketing, then pick up a copy. Godin's e-mail newsletter is worth subscribing to and you can pick up a copy of the book at his website as well."
  • Other readers bought the book because they came across it in a Fast Company magazine and were fascinated. "When I came across the "Ideavirus" article by Seth Godin in the August 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine, complete with the ideavirus postcard, I knew I was terminal! When I realized it also came as a full length book - I was completely inoperable. Ideavirus was such an extraordinary source of inspiration that I kept that issue of Fast Company and the postcard to this day."

Where the Author Succeeded

  • The author offers interesting concepts on marketing: " I think Seth Is a brilliant Marketer and Thinker. I always enjoy his concepts on topics such as marketing and customer acquisition."
  • The author provides a great explanation of viral marketing on the internet:
    • "If you want to understand the process of how an idea is easily spread via Internet, this book is interesting indeed. But be aware that it was written BEFORE the dot.com crash, when the general thinking was that great name-recognition was more important than profits. Godin actually recommends that you give everything away for free, that the money will come in later. I was disappointed that the book so closely followed the model which proved to be a failure: I have millions of website visitors, but no income, I must have a great business here! It is an interesting book if you are a non-profit org and/or literally just want to spread an idea. If you are trying to make a profit, read this with a grain of salt."
    • "The best book on viral marketing and buzz."
    • "If you want to stop marketing at people and starting marketing to them this book is worth a read. If you are interested in constructing an ideavirus this book has practical advice for going viral."
  • Some readers believe the author delivered practical, concise, and insightful content in the book: "Like his previous book, Godins Unleashing the Ideavirus entertains the reader while successfully setting off bursts of ideas along the way. Rather than marketing at the consumer, Godin's approach seeks to maximize the spread of information from customer to customer. The book provides the expected examples of successful ideavirus marketing, then develops a recipe for concocting your own ideaviruses. In order to show how to make your idea infectious, the book examines what makes a powerful sneezer, how hives work, and applies the concepts of critical velocity, vector, medium, smoothness, persistence, and amplifiers. As Godin shows, the now-familiar idea of viral marketing is one very specific form of ideavirus marketing. Most businesses will not be able to engage in true viral marketing, but all can use the ideavirus approach. While you may finish Unleashing the Ideavirus thinking that you really did not learn anything drastically new, it is unlikely that you will feel that you've wasted your time. Godin has once again written an enjoyable book that cleverly packages important ideas that have obvious practical use. Any book like this that causes the reader to continually stop and rapidly jot down ideas to implement is well worth the hour or two it takes to read."
  • The book is thought-provoking: "All of those who read this book in order to find a formula or even a guideline are in for a disappointment. This is not a textbook, this is a book written to give one an idea. The book does not teach you how, or why, it opens up a whole new way of thinking and gives the reader new directions to embrace change, and follow new ideas in order to take the business in a new direction. This book has given me many things to think about, I view the marketing department in a whole new way, and as someone who has a say in the company, I even bring out new ideas which break the mold and take the company into a new direction. This book has given me the tools to come up with those ideas."

Where the Author Fell Short

  • Early readers and reviewers of the book don't think it contained any ground-breaking or breakthrough ideas:
    • "The book of course has some high points and it is a fun read at times but don't look for any breakthrough ideas here or else you just might get sick."
    • "I picked this book up to see if there were any new ideas under the sun. At first, I read along hoping to see some original thought on marketing ideas. I quickly realized I had heard of this 'ideavirus' concept before, only it was called memes before. The book makes a very sloppy stab at translating the science of Memetics into a 'revolutionary' marketing strategy. This would be fine had it succeeded. A workable introduction into the marketing implication of Memetics would be a very valuable tool to anyone trying to propagate an idea. However, this book fails in accomplishing that goal. As it stands the book simply creates a feeble representation of Memetics, rebrands it as the 'ideavirus' and proclaims the author as head of a revolutionary new marketing technology. I started hoping to find some new ideas under the sun. This was not to be. The book earned its place, and that place is where the sun don't shine."
    • "Seth takes a whole book to tell you what you probably already know about "idea viruses" and the bits you didn't he could have told you in a few pages.
  • According to some readers, the author was restating the obvious in his book:
    • "The author by his own words (pg.187) is just restating the obvious. Basically this book is about the power of word of mouth in a digital environment which evolves into the ideavirus. This information is essentially basic marketing repackaged in the biological metaphor of a virus. I found it more valuable to learn the basics in a modern marketing textbook, which addresses most of the author's points plus much more."
    • "Seth Goldin states the obvious when he explains in this manifesto that "word-of-mouth" advertising works. Unfortunately, his manifesto is just that - too many words used to state the obvious. He differentiates between word-of-mouth and his concept of IdeaVirus, but his IdeaVirus is just a sort of controlled word-of-mouth driven by our access to the internet and e-mail."

Research Strategy

To provide the requested information on the key themes from the Amazon reviews of Seth Godin books, we combed through the reviews left by readers on Amazon. However, since there are lots of reviews on each book, we have provided insights from the top reviews that many others found useful.

Sources
Sources