Ad Age wanted to create a definitive reading list for the marketing and media business, but we didn't know whether the editorial team could pull it off on our own, so we turned it over to the wisdom of crowds.Actually "The Wisdom of Crowds," James Surowiecki's treatise on the benefits of collective thinking, got only one vote. But more than 300 people took the time to list their favorite books, either in comments below our staff picks, on LinkedIn, or via e-mail. Most ignored our request that they choose a single book, and instead nominated a handful, so more than 400 books got a nod. Mr. Surowiecki kept some pretty good company among those who didn't make your top 10. The brilliant William Gibson got a handful of votes for "Pattern Recognition" but just missed the list. Other great tomes with multiple mentions, but not enough to make the cut: Marshall McLuhan's "The Medium Is the Message," "Ted Levitt on Marketing," James Fallows' "Breaking The News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy" and Michael Lewis' "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game."
But in the end, it was the ad-focused classics that won the day, with Al Ries and Jack Trout's "Positioning" narrowly defeating "Ogilvy on Advertising" for the top spot. Mr. Ries snared the No. 3 spot, too, this time with his daughter, Laura, and "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding." And just behind them, "e" by Matt Beaumont, a work of fiction, albeit one that several people noted closely resembles reality. "The characters are deliciously right on the money," said Carol Phillips of Oak Park, Ill. "I knew someone like everyone in the book. How could it be that all agencies have the same stereotypes?"