July 1998


By Evan I. Schwartz
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Webonomics: Nine Essential Principles for Growing Your Business on the World Wide Web by business writer Evan I. Schwartz is not so much a critique of the economy as a guidepost to its possible future. In case you've been dwelling in a cave of late, the Internet is hot. Sizzling hot. The mere “.com” in a company name or announced plans by an established concern to enter the Internet fray is often enough to send a stock price skyrocketing. This despite the distinct lack of profits exhibited by many newer Internet-oriented companies.

Schwartz offers a knowledgeable guide to this new terrain. His essential point about this fledgling medium for commerce is a good one: you have to remember that the Internet is different. Start-up company and established retailer alike must deal with an audience, attitude, and set of expectations already established on the Web. Simply mimicking in cyberspace the way a company does business in the actual world is not likely to cut it.

Another key point stressed by Schwartz is that sellers of goods and services need to remember the Web is interactive. People want to participate, contribute, ask questions, and get quick answers. He writes: “Although great masses of people use it, the Web is not a mass medium and never will be. It's an interactive medium, a niche medium, and ultimately a personal medium in which every user's experience is different than every other's.” Schwartz also writes insightfully about the products and services that lend themselves most easily to the Internet (those that are “information-rich”). He talks about Web currencies, branding, consumer data, and a host of other subjects. Like all books about dynamic issues, the informed reader will know of certain developments that took place after the book was printed and bound. Still, Schwartz's vision transcends the occasional shifting detail and maintains its relevance even in the face of further technological change. This is quite a useful guide to where a lot of businesses may be headed.

Reviewed by Neil Lipschutz.

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