Gabrielle: To the extent that the history of any industry is the history of its major players, reading some of the books that have been written about the major personalities in media and entertainment is educational at worst and really entertaining at best. When looking for a job in media and entertainment, it always helps to be conversant in who the major players and personalities are and the history of the bigger companies in the industry. It makes you sound informed in your interviews and proves to the interviewer that even if you don't have specific applicable experience in media and entertainment, you are passionate enough about the industry to have done your homework.
Here is a list of several books that you might want to check out. (These reviews are just my opinion and I own no stock in any of the companies that publish these books!)
- The Hollywood Job Hunter's Survival Guide (Hugh Taylor, Lone Eagle Publishing, Fifth Edition). This paperback is written really well and does a great job of telling it like it is. The author is a Harvard MBA but the book is more geared towards people just graduating from college. For anyone who is new to the industry at whatever stage in their career it is useful reading.~
- Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power & Glory of America's Richest Media Empire & The Secretive Man Behind It (Thomas Maier, Johnson Books). This paperback version is updated from the text's original 1994 publication. This book is about the Newhouse family - most specifically, S.I. Newhouse, the Chairman of Advance Publications. Advance owns Random House and Conde Nast Magazine Group, to name a few of its more well-known media holdings. This book tries to shed light on a very secretive organization and family, and it is interesting because all of us are familiar with the books that Random House publishes and the magazines that Conde Nast produces. Since S.I. Newhouse didn't grant the author any interviews, the major drawback of the book (in my opinion) is that it relies on third-party observation, but the story is still a good one.
- The Highwaymen: Warriers of the Information Superhighway (Ken Auletta, Random House). This is a collection of essays that Ken Auletta wrote as the media columnist for The New Yorker magazine. He profiles many of the leading names in the telecommunications, media and entertainment industries. Ted Turner, Jon Malone of T.C.I., Ted Turner, Michael Ovitz, Sumner Redstone, Gerald Levin and more big players are covered. Ken Auletta is a good writer and it is easy to read specific essays if you don't have time to read a whole book (for those students out there who might have to be reading textbooks instead of real books?).
- And finally, a book that you should have on your bookshelf as a great reference is Harold Vogel's Entertainment Industry Economics (Cambridge University Press, Fourth Edition). This book is an academic look at the economics behind many different sectors of the entertainment industry, from film to music to broadcasting and even gaming and wagering. It is pretty technical, but if you ever wanted to know just how movie studios account for a film's profits and losses, this is the book. While you won't read it for the 'story', you will want to have it for reference.
Again, these are just my suggestions and opinions. If you can recommend a good book that you've read lately, please post it on the message boards so we can all see what you think!
Gabrielle Dudnyk is Vault.com's Media and Entertainment Channel Moderator
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