Thirty Great Free eBooks for Innovators

Two years ago, I wanted to give everyone that reads my blog a present. Here is how I put it:

Whenever I make a new friend, one of the first things I usually do is buy them a book. I’m not exactly sure why – probably because I really value ideas & books, and I want to share them with people that I like. So for all my digital friends here, I thought that since it’s the holidays, I would give you links to a great set of books that are all downloadable for free.

The result was the post Ten Great Free e-Books for Innovators. Then last year I wrote a follow-up called Ten More Great Free e-Books for Innovators.

Since it’s the holiday season again, and since I still give books as gifts to everyone, I figure that it’s time for more free e-books. The 20 on the first two lists are still mostly available. I’m adding another 12 now – 10 plus 2 bonus books just in case some of the old links don’t work. This list is the best one yet!

Have fun and enjoy the holidays! Thanks for all the time and support that you’ve given to me, John and the blog over the past 12 months.

Please note: while these are free copies of the books, they are nearly all also buy-able if you want a physical copy and/or you wish to support the authors.

One must-read book:

The Flinch by Julien Smith: in order to innovate, we have to execute our ideas. The excuses for not doing this are legion, and they are just that – excuses. Julien’s book with Chris Brogan, Trust Agents, was outstanding. This one is better. It’s easy to dismiss as self-help, but it includes a bunch of practical ideas for executing your own ideas. Essential. Get the kindle version for free here (and if you don’t have a kindle reader, download kindle for PC, Mac, iPhone, Android or iPad).

Three Innovation Books:

Exploiting Chaos by Jeremy Gutsche: Gutsche created the TrendHunter website, which is a useful resource for finding out what’s out on the edge these days. The book consists of a ton of short, snappy pieces, organised around several important innovation themes: why we must experiment to innovate, the benefits of an obsession with customers, and why we need to break our current business models to succeed over the long-term. It’s a bit short on how-to, but it contains a lot of great provocation.

Little Innovation Book by James Gardner: Gardner writes a great blog on innovation, and this book is an excellent step-by-step guide to managing innovation as a process.

Making Open Innovation Work by Stefan Lindegaard: Stefan writes one of my favourite innovation blogs, and this book is full of great, practical advice. He’s one of the leading experts on open innovation, and I’m not sure that anyone knows more about how to actually make it work. If you want a physical version, you can order it from amazon here.

From Open Innovation to Open Source, and Back:

Content by Cory Doctorow: Doctorow is mainly known for writing great fiction, but he also co-founded Boing Boing, and this collection of essays on the nature of content is outstanding. He is a great example of how to use “free” as a method for actually turning a profit. He’s tried numerous experiments in this regard, which is the essence of innovation. Question: why is it mainly authors that are doing these experiments, when it is publishers that are under threat? I wish I knew the answer…

Peers, Pirates and Persuasion by John Logie: an interesting discussion of the some of the legal and IP issues raised by sharing. This is a bit different from Doctorow’s work, which discusses free more as a strategy. It’s an interesting frame through which to view these issues.

The Daemon, the Gnu and the Penguin by Peter Salus: Salus provides an interesting history of how “free” has worked in open source software. Open source and open innovation are often confused – they are related but different. This book explains how people have harnessed massive amounts of volunteers to create some great software.

Innovation Happens Elsewhere by Ron Goldman and Richard Gabriel: this book takes us full circle – it discusses why to use open source as a method of development, how to do it, and how to build an open business model.

How-tos and Bonus Books:

Raising Angel and Venture Capital Finance by Tom McCaskill: McCaskill has written a bunch of books designed to help entrepreneurs and start-ups. If you need to finance your great idea, this book provides a very practical guide, and it’s a great place to start.

Why Projects Fail by Uladzislau Schauchenka: if you’re in a big organisation rather than a start-up, innovation often has a significant project-management component. This book outlines how projects go wrong, including case studies, and it also has a number of suggestions for managing projects more effectively.

Engagement from Scratch! by Danny Iny: because I needed at least one book with an exclamation point in the title. Written with a number of contributors (including Alex Osterwalder of Business Model Canvas fame), this book provides useful guidance for building a successful community. This is becoming increasingly important in getting your innovative ideas to spread.

Insubordinate by Seth Godin: like Doctorow, Godin has a long history of giving away some of his ideas, and like The Flinch, this book is concerned with how to actually get motivated to execute your great ideas. It is the companion piece to his excellent book Linchpin – and it contains a bunch of case studies of people that have successfully managed to innovate in situations where innovation is difficult.

So there you go. Books are great, and they can give you a lot of ideas. But remember, ideas themselves aren’t worth anything. You have to execute them to create value. That’s innovation.

Happy holidays!

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

15 thoughts on “Thirty Great Free eBooks for Innovators

  1. Thank you Tim,
    It is very helpful, especially after I am not able to use my student number for accessing the database. Reading is one of luxurious activities that I miss after I graduate from UQ.
    Happy Holliday Tim

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