We love to encourage learning here at Shopify. That’s why we started Ecommerce University, and it’s also a big part of what this blog is about. Today we’ve selected 40 books that can help you build, launch and grow your business.
Each of these books offer tremendous advice and value. We've assembled a mix that include classics, like Ogilvy on Advertising, as well as more recent titles, including Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book and Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things, published just last week.
As with our previous book roundups, you'll find a link to purchase the books on Amazon with all of the money earned from Amazon's affiliate program going to Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture that supports entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Steve JobsWalter Isaacson
Anyone who works in tech hears constant references to Steve Jobs. It pays to know the man beyond the quotes on an inspirational poster.
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsMalcolm Gladwell
Each of Gladwell’s books are riveting. Learn about the success of the Impressionists, the history of the full-court press, and why you should avoid elite colleges like Harvard and Brown.
Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and AdvertisingRyan Holiday
Figure out how to adopt the growth hacker mindset and the right way to establish product marketing fit from a guy who’s mastered both.
The 4-Hour WorkweekTim Ferriss
If you follow this blog, then you’ve seen Tim’s work. Learn how he went from working 80 hours a week and earning $40,000 a year to earning $40,000 per month and working 4 hours a week.
Poke the BoxSeth Godin
Seth Godin is a legend, and that’s why we’ve picked out three of our favorite works to be included in this list. Poke the Box is a call to action on the initiatives you’ve always wanted to start.
All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works – and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of AllSeth Godin
Great marketers don’t talk about features or benefits. They tell stories instead. Learn how to craft yours.
The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being RemarkableSeth Godin
After you’ve seen one brown cow you’ve seen all brown cows. Here how to be an unforgettable purple cow in Seth’s classic work.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy AnswersBen Horowitz
Does the name Horowitz seem familiar? It’s one half of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most respected VCs in the Valley. Ben offers essential advice on founding and running a startup.
Contagious: Why Things Catch OnJonah Berger
What makes content go viral? Professor Jonah Berger of the Wharton School has spent the last decade figuring out answers. They’re found in this book.
Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is Help Not HypeJay Baer
Still concerned with nothing but the bottom line? Let Jay Baer explain why the greatest products aim to be genuinely helpful, not just profitable.
Jason Fried convincingly shows that most of what we regard as obstacles – hiring staff, dealing with paperwork, renting an office – are simply excuses not to get started. Here’s how to stop talk and to start working.
Content RulesAnn Handley & C.C. Chapman
Ann Handley is the first Chief Content Officer in the world. This book is her guide to creating engaging web content and to building a loyal following.
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without OrganizationsClay Shirky
The web is changing everything. Learn some of the philosophical, economic, and statistical principles behind the change.
Trust Me I’m LyingRyan Holiday
Do you want to know how the media really works? Ryan Holiday claims to know how. This is dangerous information.
The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful BusinessesEric Ries
The concept of the Lean Startup is now a global phenomenon. This is the book that got it all started.
The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great CompanySteve Blank and Bob Dorf
The Startup Owner’s Manual is a 608-page how-to guide on how to run a startup. If you like charts, graphs, diagrams, and startups, this is the book for you.
Crush It!Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary V. discovered the possibilities of sales through the internet earlier than many. Here’s his advice on turning your web presence into a personal brand.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy WorldGary Vaynerchuk
This is Gary’s most recent book, and it’s about mastering social media. Learn how to connect with customers before you make an ask.
Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas From the Computer AgePaul Graham
Paul Graham studied philosophy in college, has painted for most of his life, and was a co-founder of Viaweb. He’s a founding partner of Y-Combinator, and this book outlines his thoughts on the age of the internet.
The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your CareerReid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
The CEO of LinkedIn, and his “Chief of Staff,” offer their thoughts on how to accelerate your career. Here’s how to treat your life along startup principles.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big DifferenceMalcolm Gladwell
This is Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal book on how small changes can prompt big changes. You’ve heard about it. Now it’s time to read it.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’tJim Collins
Jim Collins profiles major companies including Intel, Coca-Cola, and Merck to discover how they made quantum leaps ahead of competitors. His findings are rigorously presented.
23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results In Your LIfeS.J. Scott
This post could have been written in a fifth of the time if I properly applied the lessons in this book. Pick up this book to learn of them.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving InRichard Fisher
Getting to Yes is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation project, and has been continuously published for 30 years. Not many business books can claim the same.
How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do itMark Cuban
Mark Cuban tells his rags-to-riches story, going from selling powdered milk to becoming a multi-billionaire. This book also collects some of his most popular writings from Blog Maverick.
The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your BrandEkaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio
The best thing about this book is that it’s filled to the brim with full-color images and examples. It’s visual-, not text-based.
Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming ProductsNir Eyal
Looking for a product to sell and are open to trying anything? Consult Nir Eyal’s “Hook Model”, a four-step process to build customer habits and learn how to build products that people can’t put down.
Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and WonderArianna Huffington
Thrive is Arianna Huffington’s personal quest to understand what it means to be successful. Money and Power are two legs of a three-legged stool. She tells us what she believes is the necessary third leg.
Ogilvy on AdvertisingDavid Ogilvy
This is the classic written by a co-founder of Ogilvy & Mather. He’s been called the original “Mad Man.” These are his thoughts.
Stiletto Network: Inside the Women's Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of BusinessPamela Ryckman
Pamela Ryckman discusses women’s groups that are forming in various cities across the country that help to empower them in the workplace. Here’s how she sees the movement.
The Ultimate Guide to Google AdwordsPerry Marshall
This is one of the most practical book on our list. Learn how to master Google Adwords, which is critical to online marketing.
Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content MarketingLee Odden
This is another super practical work, on how to optimize SEO. If you run a site, then you have to master it.
Marketing in the Age of GoogleVanessa Fox
Need another perspective on SEO? This is written by the person who created Google Webmasters, and gives you everything you need to know about search rankings and search data.
How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleDale Carnegie
A classic: this book will give you people skills that are useful personally as well as professionally.
The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales GreatnessJeff Gitomer
This guy wrote the “Sales Bible.” Plus, we all want to know about the 0.5 principle.
The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting AnythingGuy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki was one of the first marketing people for Apple. This is his guide on how to put plans into action.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer-winning business correspondent for the New York Times. He examines social science evidence to discuss how habits form.
Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your BusinessAmber Mac
Amber Mac gives the secret to making social media work for your company: think of your audience as your friends and treat them that way. Learn from her personal experience on building a big network.
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and PurposeTony Hsieh
There’s a lot of things cool about Tony Hsieh and the amazing corporate culture he built at Zappos. There’s no one better to learn from to make your employees more effective.
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunGretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin spent a year trying to be happy. See what happened as she personally experimented on how to be happier.
Entrepreneurship Book Giveaway
We are pleased to announce the winner of the Shopify book giveaway:
Ven Chag: for her business NOURI Bars – snack bars that are nutritious and help to feed hungry children. Her recommendation for a great book? The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.
Thanks to everyone for tweets, thoughtful comments, and especially for book recommendations. You've made this a better list. If you have a business idea that your'e thinking about launching, make sure you check out Shopify's Build A Business competition.
About The Author
Dan Wang is a Shopify Content Specialist studying economics and philosophy at the University of Rochester. Talk to Dan on Twitter.