Patrick Brigger is co-founder and chairman of getAbstract.
After ramping up getAbstract’s US sales force and expanding the company’s business in the Americas, Patrick returned to the Swiss headquarters in Lucerne and is operationally responsible for IT and B2C marketing.
getAbstract is a subscription service where Members receive crisp summaries of thousands of business books. How did this idea come to fruition?
The idea is actually a very old one. Already in the old Alexandria, where text was written on long papyrus rolls, a summary was placed at the beginning of the roll so that the reader could quickly understand what to expect inside.
We had the same need as we were busy in our jobs. So many books, but which ones should we read and there was just not enough time. Today, we work with hundreds of publishers and summarize all relevant business titles.
What is the process for creating these book summaries?
We have editorial teams in 7 different languages that find, rate and summarize the best knowledge. For every title that we select, we reach out to the respective publisher to obtain the rights for the summary. We want to provide our customers interesting content that they can use in their jobs to become more efficient and innovative.
We read every book from A-Z, provide 10 relevant takeaways and then write a 5-page summary in our own words. We seek to provide a crisp, interesting text that is fun to read and allows you to grab the main ideas in 10-15 minutes.
Is the idea of getAbstract to replace reading a book cover to cover?
Not at all. In fact, we have conducted an independent survey to find out that our customers read more books than before using getAbstract. In some cases, the content of the summary is sufficient, but in others our service helps to select the books that you want to read in its entirety.
Our service includes a weekly, personalized push notification (email and/or App) that will expose our readers to 52 titles per year that are of interest to them. It helps them to stay current, not miss a trend and discover the books they want to fully read.
How do you choose the books that are summarized?
We consider different sources: from our publishers, we receive the catalogues of new titles before the books are available. Our editorial team pre-selects titles that fit our categories (e.g. leadership, sales, marketing, finance, personal development, technology, etc). We receive a couple of thousand publications each year. Of course, we also monitor bestselling lists and public reviews, and also allow our readers to suggest summaries in case we missed something.
We then rate every titles based on applicability, innovation and style and summarize the best ones. Every title in our selection is a book that is worth reading.
How can the reader be sure the most important aspects of the book will not be missed?
One particular step in the editorial process is to verify that the content is accurately represented, which we take very seriously. Moreover, in the world of the Internet, feedback is very spontaneous: if we missed the accurate representation of the content of a book, our readership would let us know immediately.
Also, our 16 years of experience has allowed us to become pretty good in what we do.
Aside from your company, what is your greatest success?
I think the ultimate feeling of happiness is when you can make a difference in someone’s life, ever so small, which are wonderful memories.
On a personal level, still being fit and fitting into the same size of jeans as 10 years ago 🙂
What is one book you would recommend to everyone?
There are so many good ones, and if I have to pick just one it is Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture“. It’s a constant reminder to not take things too seriously and put your emphasis on people and not on things.
Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
A year ago I would have given you a completely different answers. But then I had a heavy brain concussion after an accident during a ski race at the beginning of this year. For weeks, I had to reduce my exposure to electronic media and just focus on the essential. I don’t think you “should” follow anybody. There are many great, interesting blogs and “Twitterers”, and what you read depends on your personal interests. What I think you “should” do is follow people in flesh and blood.
What is one app that all FoundersCard Members should be using?
Verb Trainer. Learn a new language, it helps to keep you young and open to embrace other cultures.
Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next.
For a long time, our focus has been on business books. But good knowledge can also be found in Videos, Reports, Blogs, etc. We have started to summarize TED talks, and have launched this year a compressed video talks library. Also, we started a compressed economics library where we summarize specific financial and economic reports from various sources.
At the same time, we constantly aim to improve the usability of our service: better recommendations, interactions with others and tools for comments and discussions. For our corporate clients, we are launching new customization options and discussion forums still this year.