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Gates promo tour cost to exceed book revenues

Graham reviews it, but says it's 'dull and unreadable.' So maybe he didn't read it then?

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More and more it seems that Gates does not want to be remembered for what he is: rich on monopoly profits (it's around $100 billion now, and he is on track for being the world's first trillionaire). Gates seems to be trying to make his mark as some kind of business strategist, but his new book is both boring and lacks any real insight into business problems. His co-author, Collins Hemingway, was formerly employed by Microsoft, and his narrative ability barely passes that of his former leader. It is dull, and unreadable. Gates' theme that business will change more in the next ten years than it has in the last 50 is the kind of truism that has applied for more than a century. Refrigeration and air transport have been more fundamental to life than computers. Gates' hidden message is always that business needs more computers, with Microsoft software of course. It's as though he's hoping that every speech he makes will save another hundred souls -- except the reverse may be true. How many businesses have been ruined by computerisation? In how many cases have productivity levels dropped as a result of inadequate training and temporary staff being unable to use computers effectively? The FT serialised the book as part of a package deal, because Penguin, the UK publisher, is owned by the FT. It would be surprising if the decision to publish had not been taken by the FT's American-born CEO, since common sense should have warned even the FT editorial staff that this was a book that was more likely to create laughter than revenue. It is quite extraordinary that Gates is so vain that the marketing cost of "his" book will far exceed the income. Although it is said that he will be donating the profits to charity, the cost of his promotional tour is enormous. Any right-thinking shareholders should be clamouring for him to pay attention to the trial, and not indulging himself. Of course, Microsoft PR is trying to use the book tour to distract from the trial and to give Gates a savvy businessman image, rather than the petulance seen in his appalling video depositions. If this dreary book has any message, it is that Microsoft got where it is by not following what Gates suggests in it. It is being said that bookshops are confused as to whether the book should be shelved under psychology (cognitive dissonance) or humour. ®

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