Everything in business is more difficult when you’re selling a weak or inferior product. On the other hand, life is so much easier when you have a great product that receives positive reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, and repeat purchases.

Let’s explore six of the best product development books. Each one covers practical insights for product teams of all sizes. While you don’t have to read all of them to be successful, I recommend that you take a few minutes to review the list, so you can identify the ones that are most relevant to you. Here are some of the key topics:

  • How to rapidly prototype and test ideas with customers
  • How to accelerate growth with a culture of experimentation
  • How to create products and services that people actually use
  • How to boost engagement by creating habit-forming products
  • How to increase customer satisfaction by reducing friction
  • How to build timeless products that steadily grow in popularity

Note: You may also be interested in exploring the best marketing books and the best business strategy books because they can often influence product development.

1. Sprint by Jake Knapp

Sprint Book Cover
Sprint by Jake Knapp

The development of a new product or service is often unpredictable. Random issues can crop up, the scope of the project can grow out of control, or the team can simply lose focus on the original vision. Regardless of the cause, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut that kills momentum and, in some cases, threatens the future of the project.

Sprint details Google Ventures’ unique five-day process for overcoming difficult challenges. It covers practical strategies for rapid prototyping and testing ideas with customers. The insights can help you build a minimum viable product, solve a complex issue, or gather much-needed feedback to keep your project moving forward.

Sprint is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more before picking up a copy, check out my Sprint book summary.

2. Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Hacking Growth Book Cover
Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Many businesses are slow to react to the evolving needs of their customers. They may have talented people, but teams are often isolated based on professional roles or departments. As a result, diversely skilled people rarely have a chance to share information and collaborate towards addressing emerging customer needs.

Hacking Growth is about how to accelerate business growth by building a culture of continuous experimentation. It explains the value of creating small, cross-functional teams that can gather insights, generate ideas, and run experiments. Plus, the book provides detailed tactics for acquiring, activating, retaining, and monetizing customers.

Hacking Growth is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Hacking Growth book summary.

3. Start At The End by Matt Wallaert

Start At The End Book Cover
Start At The End by Matt Wallaert

Many products fail to create real value for customers. Even those that are selling very well can end up buried in a desk drawer or stuffed into a closet, rather than being used as intended.  As a result, the people buying them are unlikely to provide positive reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, or repeat business in the future.

Start At The End is about how to create products and services that people will actually use. It explains that the goal with any new solution is to change customer behavior, and it provides detailed advice on how to make that happen. So, if you want to build something that creates real value in the world, this book can help.

Start At The End is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

4. Hooked by Nir Eyal

Hooked Book Cover
Hooked by Nir Eyal

Customer engagement is key to the success of many businesses—especially those offering subscription services or consumable products. Unfortunately, the dream of predictable recurring revenue often requires expensive marketing campaigns and other ongoing efforts to promote product usage, and those costs can quickly eat into profits.

Hooked introduces a different approach for increasing engagement. It explains how to help people establish a habit around using your product or service. The goal is to have customers automatically re-engage with your solution without the need for ongoing marketing campaigns or other external triggers.

Hooked is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more before picking up a copy, check out my Hooked book summary.

5. Friction by Roger Dooley

Friction Book Cover
Friction by Roger Dooley

Many products and services are needlessly complicated. The amount of time and effort required to pay for them, get everything set up, and start benefiting from them is often very inconvenient. As a result, people are less likely to use them or recommend them to others.

Friction is about finding ways to eliminate steps, reduce confusion, and address uncertainty for customers. This is important because when something is easy, people do more of it. And when something is difficult or time-consuming, people do less of it. So, if you want to attract and retain loyal customers, look for opportunities to reduce or eliminate friction wherever possible.

Friction is available from Amazon and Apple Books.

6. Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Perennial Seller Book Cover
Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Many new products make an initial splash, achieve limited success, and then quickly fade in popularity. This is so common today that it’s tempting to blame it on the rapid pace of change or our shortening attention spans. Either way, some businesses are reacting to this by chasing fads or pursuing other short-sighted opportunities.

Perennial Seller is about how to create timeless products. It explains why some solutions like Adobe Photoshop, Fender’s Stratocaster guitar, and even movies like The Shawshank Redemption remain relevant and perform better over time. The book is a practical guide for building products that stand the test of time.

Perennial Seller is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

Other Great Books For Product Teams To Read

After reading about product development, you may be interested in other business topics, including marketing, business strategy, and startups. So, when you’re finished with this list, consider exploring some of my other book recommendations.

You can also subscribe to The Rick Kettner YouTube Channel or The Rick Kettner Podcast to get updates about future book summaries and reading lists.

Rick Kettner

Rick is an avid reader and lifelong entrepreneur. He co-founded popular online music education platforms including Drumeo, Pianote, and Guitareo. He now spends much of his time sharing tips on business strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

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