published by Profile Books in association with The Economist (ISBN 1861972830)
Even the title is nostalgic. To the strains of the New World Symphony, The Economist pushes a battered old concept up a cobbled street, and with jaded eyes we remember when e-commerce promised so much. At first sight it appears odd to bring out a book on making money out of new media when recent experience would indicate that you can't, but Percival-Straunik's book attempts to do more. It takes the recent dotbomb collapse as its backdrop and attempts to learn some lessons from it. This is not a dissection of failed business-to-consumer ventures or stockmarket hype, but a level-headed look at how network technologies and practices are changing the way that companies operate. This is the key point, and is a good reason to read the book. The internet is changing business, not at the headline level of multimillion-pound initial public offerings or even innovative reworkings of the mail-order business or the bucket shop, but at the level of how companies function and communicate. Percival-Straunik makes it clear in her intro that she began writing it at the top of the boom and continued to write and analyse as the e-conomy collapsed around her typewriter. "The landscape is much clearer," she says. "We can now say with some certainty what the real, rather than the imagined potential of e-commerce will be." She turns the spotlight on productivity savings, e-management and collaboration - internet-enabled issues that have true revolutionary power. This doesn't look as sexy as some coffee-table e-books. Its prose is very 'Economist' and it lacks the are-you-doing-the-following checkbox style of some cookbooks. It refocuses the debate on issues that remain vital and as such there may be more lessons to be learnt here than in other guru-pushing tomes.