The 10 Books Every eCommerce Professional Should Read

“So many books, so little time.” ― Frank Zappa

When you're looking to expand your knowledge into any field, there are few things as helpful as a good book. This holds true for the field of eCommerce as well.

Frank Zappa is right, though. A selection must be made! We did so of the most useful eCommerce books, divided into three categories: Success Stories, Motivational, and Practical books. We made our selection based on online surveys of eCommerce professionals, online book ratings, and our own experience.

1
One-click - Richard Brandt

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has always been a central personality in the world of dot-com. Since the founding year of 1995, Amazon has been increasing its size, products, revenues and innovative services. There is something about Amazon's success that triggers every eCommerce manager’s mind and gives you a look into the company's path of success.

book cover of jeff bezos and the rise of amazon.com book by richard l. brandt

One-Click describes the evolution of Amazon since its early days, insights from their business model into why and how it grew like it did. This book shows how Amazon’s business model draws one of the most convenient and accessible ways of running your online shop. On the other hand One-click also sheds light on the managerial skills, character and vision of Jeff Bezos, a larger-than-life character in the world of e-Commerce, and the effect it had on the company's success.

The main downturn of this book revealed by some readers is the fact that it conceals many important events, as some say while it’s a good story, unfortunately it is not the full story.

... working at Amazon was not just a job - it was part of a visionary quest, something to give higher meaning to their lives.

The author Richard Brandt is a freelance journalist and a 20-year experience writer in the fields of Business, Science and Technology. He dedicated part of his life researching and interviewing different people in order to make the puzzle fit, as he was never given an official interview by Jeff Bezos himself.

2
In the Plex - Steven Levy

Over the last decade Google has become such a relevant cornerstone within internet development that it actually changed the way modern societies live their lives. It transformed the way of doing business, it changed education, it changed family dynamics and it changed each one of us.

book cover of steven levy book in the plex how google thinks, works and shapes our lives

However, the way Google changed the world with its pioneer tools didn’t come out of nowhere. Everything about Google’s development is grounded on its unique ability to engage each person into an ecosystem of products, a common way of thinking and working only possible with its unique philosophy.

This book was written by a senior technology reporter who was given unique access into the Google “World” inside “Googleplex”, the world’s biggest internet advertising business. Inside Googleplex, Steven documented all about the way Google is able to constantly expand their reach by creating transformative products with common goals of increasing efficiency and productivity, mostly under an open-source logic.

An important hedge to highlight from this book is the fact that is one of the only documents which is able to describe in great detail Google founders: Larry Page and Sergey Brin and the skills needed to develop such an organization.

[Google is] an omnivorous collector of information, a hyperencyclopedic vault of human knowledge, an unerring auctioneer, an eerily skilful student of languages, behaviour, and desires.

Exploring many different angles, Levy is able to report in great detail all about daily operations at Google headquarters within its different departments, always showing the importance that the so-called “creative disorganization” has in their great success. As many described, the author also explores the perks of working for Google and how is this giant internet company able to attract, hire and maintain such a vast amount of genius talents.

Finally, the author takes the opportunity to report how Google has been dealing with recent threats and deficiencies and how is this organization dealing with Asian expansion and the challenge of conquering the great market of China.

3
Anyone Can Do It - Sahar Hashemi

"Anyone Can Do It" relates to the real-life chronicles of a brother and a sister, the Hashemi’s, who wished to own their own business. This is an excellent inspiring, hands-on book for every new entrepreneur as it guides us through some of the steps needed to be taken in order to become globally successful.

book cover of sahar hashemi book anyone can do it: building coffee republic from our kitchen table

Starting at the first conversation of the idea, going through the writing of the business plan, to hiring and dismissing. If you are thinking about entering the entrepreneurial adventure this is a must-read. Currently, these sibblings own Coffee Republic, a £50m worth company with great success all over UK.

The book was written after Sahar Hashemi left the management of Coffee Republic to focus on her writing. Soon, this book has become a bestseller in 6 different languages achieving the title of the 2nd-highest selling book on entrepreneurship after Richard Branson’s.

This eCommerce book is a must for every entrepreneur, as well as people already in business looking for a fresh approach. Unlike others, it not just tells their story, it also shows how they did it, which is rare.

Warren Wickman

The main strength of this book is the chronicling effort to start a company, by showing a raw, honest perspective of entrepreneurship. On the downside, the book fails as a handbook when presenting simplistic exercises and too much graphical enthusiasm.

4
The 4-Hour Work Week - Timothy Ferriss

For some, the vision of owning an online business is to allow themselves into an effortless activity, such as being able to manage their online store from a Caribbean beach. For those, the 4-Hour Work Week is a must-read.

book cover of timothy ferris book the 4-hour work week

This mind-changing book is divided into 4 parts which explore different components of what Tim describes as lifestyle design: goal setting, elimination of distraction, automation of cash flows and liberation from traditional expectations.

Timothy Ferriss entitles himself a personal life designer. In fact, he is more than just a best selling author, he owns his own business, is a business angel, a public speaker, and an advisor for a variety of influential companies, including Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Evernote.

There are plenty of diverse critiques on this book, some claiming it to be unrealistic. Let’s face it, a 4 Hour Workweek may seem a bit extreme. Not too many people would buy a book titled "the 30 hour workweek", though, right?

Within the first few pages of The 4-Hour Workweek I knew I was reading something different (...) This was something I could relate to.

Joshua Steimle

Another major critique is the fact that from the book’s perspective, work is not more than what you do for a paycheck. In other words, if your work is your passion, following this book would make you reduce the time you spend on your passion.

Still, the book offers plenty of valuable insights. Take the big stickies from it, glue them all over your office and extract some advice from this juicy book to help you in your professional and personal life.

5
Get Rich Click! - Marc Ostrofsky

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to teach and prepare you to build your e-Commerce business model, then Get Rich Click! is the perfect book for you.

book cover of marc ostrofsky book get rich click!: the ultimate guide to making money on the internet

With comprehensive stories from people of all ages who developed their fortune or happiness online. From small entrepreneurs to large corporations, this book will show you how people make money online with digitally based products in an efficient way.

Get rich click! is a step-by-step book focused on sharing with readers the basic instructions to achieve financial success: from tips on how to make money online on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to profiting from domain names and developing digitally based products. Joel Comm, New York Times:

With so much noise in the internet business sector, it’s refreshing to see practical advice from someone who has been there, done that. Marc Ostrofsky’s Get Rich Click lays out an easy-to-navigate blueprint to making money online for anyone with a dream and a willingness to work the plan. Packed with checklists, bullet points, and no-nonsense advice from someone who has made millions online, this book is a no-brainer for anyone wanting to mine gold from the internet.

Marc Ostrofsky is a best selling author and former domain investor known as the “Technology Wildcatter”. Marc also owns a venture capital firm which took part in many telecommunications, publishing and internet based companies and he’s a co-founder of hundreds of web properties.

6
Convert! - Benjamin Hunt

Success in e-Commerce businesses comes from the ability to connect with your customers combined with a strong understanding of usability, branding, perception and communication channels. Ben Hunt on this book shares with all of us the importance of SEO, customer engagement and offers conversion techniques for your sales’ growth.

book cover of Convert, by Benjamin Hunt

Using some of the techniques explored in this book, you’ll be able to tell the difference between vulgar and great online stores, the importance of design simplicity aligned with copy, analysis, and optimization techniques and targeted testing with the ultimate goal of increasing conversion rates.

This book is written following a path of five goals: understand the essentials (your market, your proposition and what you’re delivering); create the right website for your audience under a full-engaging experience; learn more about testing tools to improve conversion rate; discover multiple scenarios and variables driven under web site optimization and finally combine creativity with rationality and detailed analysis to assure your website’s success.

The author from Convert!, Ben Hunt, is a Principal Consultant for Scratchmedia Ltd, a company which provides tutorials and advice for 120.000 web developers per month. Ben himself has been designing and coding websites for 15 years and is considered as one of the main leaders in web usability.

7
Don’t Make Me Think - Steve Krug

"Don’t Make Me Think" is an excellent book by Steve Krug which makes you think like a usability expert. The overall goal is simple: when people visit your website they shouldn't have to think at all - only then you nailed navigation and webpage design.

book cover of steve krug book don't make me think

This book was translated in more than twenty languages and has already sold more than 400,000 copies. The reason behind such success? First this book is very short (as the author said it was written for very busy people to read), it’s easy to understand, engaging, and suitable for everyone from amateurs to experts.

Steve Krug is a usability expert and consultant with more than 15 years in-field experience in usability design. Due to his great success with Don’t Make Me Think Steve Krug has also become a highly-sought worldwide speaker.

After reading it over a couple of hours and putting its ideas to work for the past five years, I can say it has done more to improve my abilities as a Web designer than any other book.

Jeffrey Zeldman

8
The Complete E-Commerce Book - Janice Reynolds

book cover of The Complete eCommerce Book, by Janice Reynolds

If you're looking for a complete “how to…” manual then you’ll certainly be surprised by the wealth of information you can find in this book. The Complete E-Commerce Book covers diverse industry topics from the basic concept of eCommerce to an analysis of the creative process, to building and maintaining a successful web based business. This is a step-by-step manual with precise, lean information to support your daily activities.

The author, Janice Reynolds, is a consultant specialized in website development and eCommerce which delivered many practical, thorough and extensive content manuals about the above mentioned topics.

9
Electronic Commerce - Efraim Turban, Michael Chung, Jay Lee

For all of those who are not satisfied with introductory books, the Electronic Commerce is a good "next step" choice. This book reflects the author’s extensive experience as a consultant, academic and practitioner by providing a comprehensive and detailed description of e-Commerce and major current opportunities and limitations.

This book focuses on the practicals of managing an eCommerce platform. You will be able to learn about e-CRM, Business plan, strategy, web page design, supply chain management, cloud computing, business intelligence, crowdsourcing, mobile commerce and much much more - examples and case studies from over 20 countries.

One of the major strengths of this book, apart from its holistic approach, is the effort put into outlining e-Commerce’s major web strategies. Some critiques include the fact that it's somehow “stuck in the middle” when it comes to in-depth technological explanations.

10
Return on Relationship - Ted Rubin and Kathryin Rose

book cover of

This books offers some practical ideas on how to maximize your business potential through community-focused online tools. Social media is becoming a major part of our lives and thus your marketing efforts should convey into building better customer relationships monitored by in-depth metrics, such as the ROR (Return on Relationship).

Also, "Return on Relationship" gives you insight on how to build your corporate social ID considering its responsiveness, leadership, content creation, relevance and demeanour.

A quick read and useful handbook, especially for those newer to social media marketing (...) to build loyalty, connect with content creators, and bolster customer service

David Berkowitz

Ted Rubine shows how important it is for your online business to focus on moving from convince-to-convert to converse-and-convert in a simple, personalized and relationship-based philosophy. The main struggling area for this book is on the ability to distinguish relationship marketing from social media marketing.