Will the Reading List Include Comic Books?

book cover

Would you expect to get career advice from a comic book?

Apparently business books that are in the graphic novel format are already popular in Japan. The first one that I've heard of here is The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Daniel Pink.

I wrote about A Whole New Mind which along with his Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself have been popular titles about the workplace.

Is it possible that books we use in the classroom (I'm avoiding saying textbook) will begin to look like Japanese manga?

Pink's target demographic are the 20-somethings, and the guess must be that they are primed for manga books about serious topics.

I've read that Daniel Pink did a few months of research in Japan on manga, and then connected with American artist Rob Ten Pas who did the visuals.

I think part of it is also the thought that this group does not want to spend the same amount of time invested in reading to pull out the information. Information given visually works better, and Bunko is only 160 pages.

It's not such a new approach. Anyone who has reviewed textbooks lately and did the same process twenty years ago knows that the amount of visual real estate has increased dramatically. More photos, illustrations, graphs. And lots of bold text and bulleted lists. Products of a new college generation taught by PowerPoint.

A piece recently in Business Week by Susan Berfield talks about the book and the trends:

"Already, business books have become smaller, designed to fit in a coat pocket and be read completely during a two-hour plane ride. Even Harvard Business Press, renowned for its 300-page tomes on management, has launched a series of books called Memo to the CEO, none of which runs more than 125 pages."

Most manga has an element of fantasy and adventure and so does Bunko. Johnny is stuck in a job he hates. A supernatural moment produces Diana who becomes his wise guide.

It is NOT a book about how to write a résumé, get that internship, or ace the interview. What it offers is six lessons, useful information, an engaging format, plus social networking, strategies, video, and contests on the book's site at johnnybunko.com. And you can probably read it in an hour.

So, what's your review, Ken? Well, I haven't seen a copy yet. But even if I did have a copy in hand, am I a fair reviewer? I'm a few decades away from the demographic. I'm not looking for career advice. And although I did grow up and love comic books, I haven't made the transition to manga or graphic novels. Daniel Pink doesn't need me to buy this book.

What we need to pay attention to is what happens to the way students want to get their information, and how successful these newer approaches are in delivering the information.


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