Trade-Off is written in a light, conversational style that makes the book fly by before you blink. Fans of Malcolm Gladwell books and Freakonomics will enjoy the tone and content of the book, as Maney explains his concept of a “trade-off” by offering vivid anecdotes and profiles of people and products.
The “trade-off” explored is the interplay between fidelity and convenience. Fidelity, defined in the book, is a product’s total experience. Maney uses the example of attending a U2 concert. Although it’s incredibly inconvenient to book concert tickets, drive to a defined place, and stand in line, you simply can’t replicate the experience of being in the physical presence of the band and joining the crowd dancing around you.
On the other hand, a U2 CD is a highly convenient product with its own niche in the market. A CD has high sound quality and can be enjoyed at any time, but it’s an easily replicated and not particularly unique experience, and thus not a threat to concert ticket sales.
Products get in trouble when they occupy the “fidelity belly,” the no man’s land between catering to the high fidelity niche and the high convenience track. After establishing these key vocab words, Maney dives into explanations of just about everything. He explores reasons behind the NHLs lackluster television numbers and offers a solution. He tackles Ozzfest, the iPhone, Netflix, flash-frozen fish, Second Life, MTV, and ATMs. And that’s only a sampling.
I was especially interested in the segment devoted to e-books. It’s a meaty topic though, so I’ll offer my thoughts in the next post.
If you like this type of book, then I highly recommend “The Trade-Off.” I blazed through it, and I have a hunch you’ll find it interesting too.