Category Archives: writing

“Understanding Digital Marketing,” by Damian Ryan, 3rd edition: Why NOT to write an Introduction

This 3rd edition of Understanding Digital Marketing (Kogan Page Ltd.) offers an update to the original and remains a good general introduction to the topic, probably suitable as one among many texts for an introductory advertising/PR course. It also functions as a fairly good reference text, given the comprehensive index. Newcomers to the topic will find it educational. I’m not a newcomer and found it tedious and repetitive.

On a more personal level: after reading this book, I put a sign on my desk that reads “NEVER read Introductions to Non-fiction!” Like the introduction to this book, they invariably read like an extended Executive Summary which should have been cut even to fulfill its purpose of making it unnecessary for the busy executive to actually read an entire report.

For a general audience or college audience, a good introduction should NOT discuss the book’s general structure or the contents of each section or chapter – a good Table of Contents will take care of that without insulting the reader – and it should NOT describe the book’s conclusion(s). The Introduction should, instead, (1) briefly state the book’s subject, purpose, and why it is important, (2) briefly state how it came to be – who/what inspired it, and (3) briefly thank important contributors; and these things all together should make the reader want to read the book to discover what it holds.