Things I learned about my book from Amazon

A shout-out to Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs, NY--where they do handwritten reviews of books. Obviously the diametric opposite of Amazon.

A shout-out to Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY—where they handsell books with handwritten reviews of books. Obviously this store is the diametric opposite of Amazon, but they both know the power of reader reviews.

For an author, holds an undeniable fascination. There, all on one page, is a microcosm of your “product”—particularly what your readers think of your book.

I’m very grateful for those reader reviews. I know how much time it takes to compose and upload a review for all to see on Amazon (I admit that I’m guilty of not writing reviews of books I’ve read). But they matter. One of my goals is to foster a conversation around the importance of questioning and these reviews greatly help advance that goal. (On that note, don’t forget the new and rarely used feature of the Amazon reviews: the Comment button.)

Right now, three months after book launch, there are lots of nice reviews along the lines of “This book will change the way you think forever” (thanks Steven Brendtro) and “Great, useful stuff. And a good, smooth read on top of all that” (thanks newyorkertola).

T. “Pop” Pryor from Texas tells us that while reading the book, he made a list of three pages of notes and then shares the highlights with us. Mike Tamayo gives me kudos for my useful Notes section, while T. D. Bjornsson takes me to task for not offering summary points after each chapter (I thought that would smack too much of a textbook), but adds that he’s looking forward to going back and doing the summary points himself. (Maybe he’ll share them and I can put them on this site.)

There’s one semi-critical review of the book, or rather my writing. While others say that the book is “well-researched” and “readable,” AC found that the book “jumped from place to place” without being fully developed. I admit I’m guilty of stuffing a lot of stories and ideas into AMBQ and doubtless some of those ideas will have to wait until my next book to be fully fleshed out (my publisher wanted me to keep the book length below 250 pages).

“What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Buying This Item?”

Another interesting thing for me has been seeing which categories Amazon slots A More Beautiful Question into. It’s been seen all over the place—from Biology to Philosophy, neither of which really suit my book, IMO. More fittingly it’s had a steady Top 10 presence in the Entrepreneurship, Management & Leadership, and Neuroscience categories (where it’s often paired with Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, one of my favorite reads from the past few years).

Right now Amazon tells readers that the new book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is often bought after buying my book. It makes sense. Greg’s excellent book is about how to simplify your life, your thinking, and your purpose by cutting out the non-essential from your life so that you are free to pursue the things that really have value for you. The kind of person who is curious about the value of questioning in problem-solving might also be looking for a little clarity in their lives, as well.

“Shared Notes & Highlights”

Finally, at the bottom of each Kindle page, there is a section of shared notes and highlights. I don’t use a Kindle so I wasn’t aware that Amazon was able to track the highlights and notes readers make, but as the author, I have to say that it’s fascinating to see which quotes and sections of A More Beautiful Question resonate with people.

Here are some popular highlighted lines, starting with the most highlighted one by far—the book’s definition of a “beautiful question”:

  1. A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something—and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.

  2. Good questioners tend to be aware of, and quite comfortable with, their own ignorance.

  3. One of the telltale signs of an innovative questioner:
    a refusal to accept the existing reality.

  4. We think someone else—someone smarter than us, someone more capable, with more resources—will solve that problem.
    But there isn’t anyone else.

So why am I telling you all this?

First, I wanted to acknowledge everyone who’s read the book so far and taken the time to write a review, or reach out via Twitter and Facebook, or contacted me via the website. I’m aware of your interest and enthusiasm and very grateful for it. It’s wonderful that you are so vocal and public with your support of the book and topic.

Secondly, if you’re a fan of the book and can carve out a moment to leave your one or two line impression of the book on Amazon, I wanted to let you know that other potential readers as well as both me and Amazon will appreciate it. For my part, I’ll send you a big psychic “thank you,” and as the book gets more reviews, Amazon (or its algorithms) will do increased cross-promotion for the book—helping me with my mission of raising the awareness of the importance of questioning out there in the world.

What’s even better than a review? This sketch-note! Check out how designer Alyssa Gallagher (@am_gallagher) communicated HER takeaways about AMBQ on Twitter.


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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books on questioning: A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas; its follow-up THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead; and BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry. Warren’s writing has appeared in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, and he writes the “Questionologist” blog for Psychology Today. He lives in Mount Kisco, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts

2 Beautiful Comments

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  1. Phil Simon says:

    You’re never going to make everyone happy. Don’t even try. I love looking at the most-highlighted sections of my book. It’s always interested to see what resonated with readers.