12 July 2023
As we celebrate 50 years of the British Library, home to over 13 million books, we’ve put together a reading list with recommendations from entrepreneurs we’ve supported from around the UK.
1. “My favourite books are slow-paced and reflective. Michael Cunningham's A Home At The End Of The World is the first book I remember reading as an adult that gave me that comforting, peaceful feeling I now associate with reading, which I do a lot." - Sam Hutchinson, co-director of b small publishing
4. "A book that has significantly impacted me is Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal, a revolutionary collection of exercises and approaches to using theatre to rehearse for challenging situations in real life." - Jon Dixon, director of Dramatic Theatre
5. "One of my favourite books is Henri Charrière's Papillion. It is a story about grit, determination and the ability to stick to stuff you feel strongly about. Something I believe is so important about being an entrepreneur." - Doug Marshall, CEO of Altaura
7. "It may be old school, but Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a huge influence. When reading this as children it offered so much hope. Quentin Blake (who created the illustrations) inspired us to pursue a creative career from a young age." Chloe and Abigail Baldwin, founders of Buttercrumble
8. "Frankenstein by Mary Shelley impacted me because I have such a vivid memory of being in primary school and finding out that the author had to publish the book anonymously because she would have been unable to do so otherwise, as she was a woman. I remember being so shocked by this revelation and discovering that women, people of colour and basically anyone that wasn't a white male, often wrote under pseudonyms due to them not being granted the same privileges. Mary Shelley is now infamous world-wide for being one of the first science-fiction writers. I just think it inspired me because it goes to show that in life, there will be obstacles in the way and people may tell you that you aren't capable; but if you are passionate enough and persevere, you can achieve anything.’ - Rachel Sampara, founder and director of Wings & Radicles
9. "A book that has impacted me is the Mechanical and Metal Trades Handbook. This is the English translation of a German engineering bible. Engineering textbooks are often impenetrably dense, but this book is accessible to all." - Nick F, founder of PipSqueak 3D
10. “I've been inspired by Leading an Inspired Life by Jim Rohn" - Constantin Cornel Paunoiu, co-founder of Wine Chateau
11. "Aziza's Secret Fairy Door by Lola Morayo - it was the first book I sold from my production company and thus my proof of concept that this business idea had legs!" - Jasmine Richards, founder of Storymix
12. "A book that impacted me is The Source by Dr Tara Swart. The book talks about the power of mind and visualisation backed by neuroscience. I find the concept of neuroplasticity inspiring. Our brains have an amazing ability to change and adapt at any age. It’s never too late to reach our potential!" - June Mineyama-Smithson, founder of MAMIMU
13. "One of the best books I found for anyone starting a creative business is The Practice by Seth Godin. It’s made up of lots of small ‘blog’ type posts which are ideal to just pick up for an instant shot of motivation and focus."- Helen Cross, founder of Helen Cross Jewelry
14. "The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber was the first ever business book I read, the month I started out. It’s about understanding starting a small business, why most don’t work and what to do about it. It really impacted me and made me want to succeed all the more." - Victoria Eggs, founder of Victoria Eggs Ltd
15. "I enjoyed reading Suitcase by the Russian writer Sergei Dovlatov. The novel, published in the 1980s, is a collection of stories, each one inspired by an item he took in his suitcase when he left the USSR for exile in the USA in 1978." - Laura Sheeter, co-founder of Chalk + Blade
16. "A book that impacted me is Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy. It’ll help you stop procrastinating and focus on your biggest frog (tasks) first. Being a Virtual Assistant I am constantly juggling a million and one tasks, how do you identify what your most important task is when everything is important!?” - Keira Simpson, founder of Daisy Days Virtual Assistant
19. "While many books have influenced me, none compare to the Bible. Growing up Catholic, I find solace and wisdom in its stories, even during the busiest of times." Brian Danclair, founder of Fish, Wings & Tings
20. "The book that has had the biggest impact on my life is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen R Covey. In 1994, I was fortunate enough to attend a management course which was entirely based on Covey’s principles of the book. Two of the key symbols for Covey were the clock and the compass. Covey explained; the clock represents what we do with and how we manage our time. The compass represents what we feel is important and how we lead our lives. I was so inspired by Covey’s philosophy, it was the reason why I named my business Clock and Compass Coaching." - Daniel O’Connor, founder of Clock and Compass Coaching
21. "I've been inspired by a wide variety of books - reading James Joyce’s works like Ulysses while studying him at University in Ireland had a huge influence on me in understanding European connectivity. Also anything by Roald Dahl, who I’ve always loved!" - James Seager, company director of Les Enfants Terribles
22. "I’d have to say Brian Johnson’s Optimize. What’s fantastic about this series is that each episode condenses multiple business books on areas such as leadership, productivity and habits, taking the best bits and presenting them in 1h podcasts." - Zachary Pulman, founder of Zachary Pulman Design Studio
23. "A book that has had a great impact on me is Drinking from the Fire Hose by Christopher J Frank and Paul Magnone. Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded by information and data. This book helped me focus on the data I need and leave the rest aside." - Mario Spiridonov, co-founder of Santa Sofia
24. "I've been impacted by S.U.M.O by Paul McGee. I don’t usually read self-help, however, I found S.U.M.O. very relatable, easy to read and thought provoking, with plenty of humour thrown in for good measure. The book helped me learn some self-awareness, to look at myself honestly and understand how to make positive changes. I would recommend it to anyone who’d like to improve their confidence or find some motivation to change their path." - Tracey Purcell, founder of Beautiful Ethical
25. "My favourite book is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It taught me that life can change at any moment, and if it does to keep going and do it with a sense of humour." - Laura, founder of Higham Refill
27. "I love to read motivational books and books on improving myself in all areas, and I spend a little time each night with a book. One of my favourites is Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W Clement Stone. It is a brilliant reminder that mindset is key, so this is one I turn to often to pull me back on track." - Maria Grachvogel, founder of Maria Grachvogel London
30. "A book which has impacted me has to be The Art Of Effortless Living by Ingrid Bacci. I read this book in 2010 and it started me on the most amazing journey with myself! This led me to start my business in 2013." - Rose Hill, founder of Co-Creative Connection
32. "A book which has inspired me recently is Sitopia by Carolyn Steel. It felt almost prescient reading it just before lockdown, discussing how we all need to reconnect with growing and making our own food in order to live healthier lives and save the environment.” - Frankie Fox, co-founder of The Foraging Fox.
33. "A book that I find inspiring and fits with my philosophy is Paul Jarvis’ Company of One: Why staying small is the next big thing for business.” - founder of Becky Griffiths, founder of Mother's Ruin
35. "Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman has been a huge influence. Not only is it an incredible story, it’s also one of the simplest ways of illustrating how unfair racism is in our society." - Eleanore Richardson, founder of Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic
36. "Ancient Wisdom Modern World by the Dalai Lama has made a huge impact. My mum’s had this book since she was in her 20s and gave it to me when I was 19. It started my path to Buddhism, which led to me adopting the vegan lifestyle, which led to Heart Street.” Evie-May Ellis, founder of Heart Street
37. "A couple of years ago a good friend of mine bought me In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney which has inspiration and advice from over 100 female makers, artists and entrepreneurs. On those difficult days in business it shows what you can achieve when you pursue your passion, giving you the courage to follow your dreams.” Kate Underdown and Rachel Walker, co-founders of The Fold Line
38. "I am passionate about cities. One of the most important books for me captures all the intensity, excitement and ambition inherent in building one of the great cities in the world. It's Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan by Rem Koolhaas." - Jan Kattein, founder of Jan Kattetin Architects
39. "I recently read The E Myth by Michael Gerber again. I think all entrepreneurs should read this to help plan their way forward. Working ON the business, rather than IN the business.” - Bhavin Shah, founder of Central Vision Opticians
43. "I read to escape and switch off, so crime fiction is my favourite. I love Mary Portas' How to Shop with Mary, Queen of Shops. I have a signed copy after I met her at a book event and she told me she loved my boots while I waited in line - it was a true fangirl moment when I told her they were from our shop Finale and we chatted about it.” - Faye, founder of Finale Shoes and Accessories
44. "I enjoy books about food, local recipes, and the history and social stories that accompany food. One of my favourites is Taste Ye Back: Great Scots and the Food that Made Them by Sue Lawrence. Here a number of well-known Scots reminisce about their younger days and the food they enjoyed as a child. Everyone’s favourite dish comes with a special story, recipe or family tradition and always a huge dollop of nostalgia. When I read this book, it gave me reassurance that a Clootie Dumpling website was not a completely mad idea." Kirsteen Oliver, founder of Granny Beaton's
45. "Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, founder of international brand Patagonia. This book changed my outlook on corporations as it challenges the culture of consumption that we find ourselves in. It looks at the crisis we’re facing in western society and how to deal with it as forward thinking leaders and change makers. It’s had a hugely positive effect on not only the way I run my business, but equally how I live." - Hellen Stirling-Baker, founder of We Are Small Stuff
47. "A book that's impacted has impacted me is Creativity, Inc. - Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration by Amy Wallace and Ed Catmull. It's a book about running a creative business from the founder of Pixar. It's entertaining but also packed with really useful insights into how to run a business well for and with creatives." - Julia Alcamo and Dan Hodgson, founders of Happenstance Films
48. "One of the first books I remember reading is Fluke by James Herbert. It was totally captivating. I’m not sure I understood everything at the time but it’s the story of a dog who remembers being a human in a past life. I love reading fiction as it takes you away from the everyday. If I’m not reading fiction then I am looking at cookery books – another great passion of mine.” - Alli Briaris founder of Drinks Kitchen
49. "A book that has impacted me is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, as I truly feel that if you are living in the moment then there can be no stress and you can be inspired effortlessly to what you need to be doing." - Julie Silver, founder of The Vitality Fairy
50. "A book that has inspired me is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It can be likened to a new business starting out, slowly and steadily working your way through your business plan and the process of what you need to do, getting everything in place bit by bit, before the final launch of your new business and spreading your wings." - Tracey Sharman, founder of Crescent Research
22 April 2020
Some business owners are using this time to tune into podcasts or read books from other entrepreneurs they are inspired by, to get tips with business help books or just read for leisure, for themselves or as a family activity. We’ve put together a reading and listening list, with recommendations from entrepreneurs we’ve supported from around the UK on what’s inspired them (you can now also read recommendations from the BIPC team as well)…
Sabina Ali, founder of Sabina Motasem, a bridal wear designer and boutique
Small Giants by Bo Burlingham. It’s a great book on how to became an AWESOME company not a big corporation, and how business can make this a much better world to live.
Gil Kahana, co-founder of ChattyFeet, who create illustrated character socks, mugs, enamel pins and paper models
The last enjoyable book was 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, written by Yuval Noah Harari. One of the important messages was that 'global problems demand global solutions'.
Abigail and Chloe Baldwin, founders of Buttercrumble, a creative studio based in Leeds
It may be old school, but Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a huge influence. When reading this as children, it offered so much hope. Quentin Blake (who created the illustrations) inspired us to pursue a creative career from a young age.
Anthony Lau, founder of Cyclehoop, who design cycle parking and infrastructure
A book which has really impacted me is The Way Things Work by David Macaulay. It’s a book from my childhood, it inspired my interest in design, engineering, and making things that work!
Natalie Taylor, founder of Acacia Facilities, who supplies interior and exterior landscaping and flowers to business throughout the UK
Think Rich and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, a personal development and self-improvement book.
Amanda Overs, founder of I Can Make Shoes, a London-based shoemaking school for beginners
A book which really impacted me is In My Shoes by Tamara Mellon. I thought I was aspiring to have a glamorous company and that once you reach a certain status things become easy. After reading, I realised that no business is glamorous. Everyone has to do their tax, deal with problems and juggle their personal/professional life. Once I realised this, I was free to just grow the business.
Podcasts have more of an impact on me though; I’m obsessed with How I Built This. I love to listen to entrepreneurs share their successes and failures; it helps get perspective on issues I’m facing.
Jon Swain, co-founder of Hackney Brewery, the oldest brewing company in Hackney
I don't read as much as I would like to, time is taken up with research papers and new books about how to make better beer. The last book I read was The New IPA by Scott Janish, it's a collection of scientific papers analysing hop flavour and aroma formulation in beer.
The books that has had the biggest influence on me was mostly cult classics like 1984, On the Road, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Fear and Loathing Las Vegas, and Naked Lunch.
Mickela Hall-Ramsay, founder of Haringey-based HR Sports Academy
Who Moved My Cheese and The Miracle Morning are both books which are really good for helping you transform your life and adapt to change positively. Engaging and easy reads!
Joe Faulkner, founder of The Krio Kanteen, a family run Sierra Leonean food pop-up based in London
Many books have inspired me, but one that really stands out is Shaping Up Culture by Mark Maciver aka Slidercuts. I’ve always had a keen interest in his business as I went to school with Mark, so I have followed his journey closely. He is a real role model and his book gives simple answers to many questions that most budding entrepreneurs would like answered. It is a book I would highly recommend!
Keira O’Mara, founder of Mama Designs, a mother and baby retailer based in Birmingham
When I do have a chance to read, I loved Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield Thomas. I love the idea that you can run a successful business without being busy or stressed out.
Siobhan Thomas, founder of What’s Your Skirt? A fashion brand based in Leeds
I am a big reader and many books have impacted me, I am currently reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.
Hazel Russell, co-founder of The Wood Life Project, who produce UK crafted eco-friendly wooden products
If I Could Tell You Just One Thing by Richard Reed. This book is really well written and full of inspirational stories from some of the world’s most successful people.
09 June 2016
After four centuries he continues to be recognised as the greatest writer in the English language. The Bard was also quite a savvy businessman, amassing enough money to acquire New Place, one of the largest houses in his home town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. But how much is his literary legacy worth today?
More popular abroad than in his home country
Before we get onto that, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that nowadays Shakespeare is more popular abroad than in his country of birth according to a 2016 YouGov poll.
But the poll also shows that his legacy makes a significant contribution to the UK’s financial prosperity and cultural influence.
Shakespeare's 38 plays and 154 sonnets been translated into 118 languages (including Klingon), and performed throughout the world. In addition, he is also a major factor in attracting visitors to his birthplace.
Out of copyright for hundreds of years
The answer to the question ‘how much is Shakespeare worth’ is complicated by the issue of copyright. His entire creative output has of course been out of copyright for centuries. In the UK, copyright currently last for 70 years after the author's death.
So the billions of publications and performances do not need to pay royalties to his estate. So, instead I have looked for the total value of Shakespeare-related content in the market today, rather than the amount he would have earned.
Next, there is the question of whether we are valuing the annual ‘turnover’ of the Shakespeare ‘industry’, or the combined value of current Shakespeare assets?
How much is Shakespeare worth?
OK, enough waffle, it’s time to get down to brass tacks.
For the annual figure. Australian valuation firm Brand Finance came up with £325 million in 2012. They claim this is more than double the combined value of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe brands.
Their study also found:
- Shakespeare is the best-selling author of all time; with book sales estimated between two and four billion. In contrast, J.K. Rowling's unit sales are estimated to be 'merely' 450 million.
- 64 million children globally study Shakespeare in countries as diverse as Australia, Azerbaijan, China, Denmark, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ukraine and Vietnam.
- There have been more than 400 feature length films and TV productions of Shakespeare works.
- There are currently 67 registered trademarks bearing Shakespeare's name in Australia, the UK and the USA alone ranging from Shakespeare's Pies to the Royal Shakespeare Company.
This is the first time a monetary value has been placed on the Shakespeare brand taking into account book sales and downloads, paid attendance at theatre productions, box office and TV receipts from film productions, sale of Shakespeare branded goods and tourism revenue.
234 First Folios worth £1.1 billion
If we look at the value of Shakespeare's ‘estate’, then the figure is much larger. Just the value of the First Folio editions of his plays is over one billion sterling. It is believed that around 750 copies of the First Folio were printed, of which there are 234 known surviving copies.
We hold an impressive five copies here in The British Library, although this is somewhat trumped by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. who have an astonishing 82 copies. Their value varies according to condition, but by some estimates the average value would be around £5 million. This would give a total value of £1.1 billion.
It’s impossible to be precise about the number of Shakespeare related books published in the last 400 years. A quick search on Amazon shows 146,801 results with prices ranging from £9,999.98 to zero plus £1.99 post and packing:
Then we need to add in the value of all the theatres around the world who specialise in Shakespeare productions. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) employs 700 staff and produces around 20 productions a year from its home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Together with the re-created Globe Theatre on the Thames in London, the value must be at least £100 million.
Shakespeare on stage and screen
Next comes film and television adaptions and their related recordings for home sale. And of course, we mustn’t forget the merchandise, such as the William Shakespeare Candle and My Book of Stories: Write your own Shakespearean Tales, available from the British Library shop.
Or from elsewhere, how about Shakespeare Christmas tree ornaments, board games, playing cards, shower curtains, action figures, and even onesies.
My personal favourite is the Shakespeare bust used to conceal the entrance to the bat-cave, seen in the classic 1960’s Batman television series. Available in life-size or Lego version.
Finally, and biggest of all, is tourism. It’s impossible to calculate how many visitors to the UK are coming because of Shakespeare. Either to see his plays or explore his hometown, Stratford-Upon-Avon. Or for those seeking a warmer climate, the fictitious balcony where Romeo serenaded Juliet in Verona, Italy.
It all adds up to an impressive several billion pounds. But perhaps this focus on hard cash misses the point. The world is a richer place culturally, thanks to Shakespeare’s genius with the quill all those years ago.
Written by Neil Infield - Manager in the Business & IP Centre