3 Things That Bill Gates's Book Blog Tells Us About Wealth

How to live like a billionaire.

January 7, 2016

There is at least one way that you and I can live our lives like a billionaire - we can spend time reading and sharing our thoughts on books.

Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year.  He shares his thoughts on many of these books on his blog. His commentary and reviews are open to comments, and his selections always kick off a rich discussion about the books that he reads.

The existence of Bill Gates’ book blog tells us 3 things about wealth.

1 - The Process of Reading and Writing About Books Is the Same for Rich People As It Is for Us:

It takes Bill Gates as much time and effort to read and write about books as it does for us. Being a billionaire does not mean that Bill Gates can read faster or with more understanding than us, and it does not mean that his thoughts on the books that he reads will be any more cogent or interesting. When it comes to reading and writing about books, you and I are in the same boat as Bill Gates.

How many other activities in life can we say that about?  We can’t travel like Bill Gates. Or live in a house like Bill Gates’s house. In many big ways life is different for the rich. But not with books. This tells me that investing lots of time and effort in reading and discussing lots of books is one way that we can live like a billionaire.

2 - Reading and Writing About Books Requires Tradeoffs:

Is it really true that Bill Gates has more free time each year than you and I, and that is why he can read and write about so many books? I doubt that. Bill Gates might not need to work for money, but I’m sure that the demands on his time are intense. What he does is consciously make time to read and write about books. He trades-off other things in order to spend more time in the world of books and book readers.

We might need to make other trade-offs to be as much of a book person as Gates. My choice is to read books rather than participate in much social media or watch much video.  I still spend some time each day on online news sites, Twitter, and blog - and I get plenty of video screen time. (This video screen time now comes through my phone, on my Netflix / Hulu / Amazon Prime / HBO Now apps). A large portion of my daily information diet, however, is from books. Combining audiobooks (multitasking) with digital books (focused reading) substitutes for other consumption activities. The decision to read and write about books is less about time, and more about choice.

3 -  The Intersection of the Changing Book Ecosystem and Digital Platforms Means We Can All Now Read Like A Billionaire:

The most relevant cost in reading and writing about books is opportunity cost. Time that you spend reading and writing about books is time that you can’t spend other places.

The direct costs for reading and writing about books is low, and getting lower. Bill Gates reads paper books, but if you are willing to read digital books then a new release is nowadays no more expensive than a paperback. 

The last book that I purchased was Phillip Tetlock’s Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. I got the audiobook version, which costs (with an Audible Platinum plan $9.56 a book.  The Kindle version is $13.99. The hardcover is $20.45. The library version is free. Listening to the audiobook version costs around a dollar per hour.  Is there any better value than reading books?

A platform to write about the books and discuss books is even cheaper. A basic Wordpress site is free. Or you can share your thoughts about the books that you are reading in this space with our community.  Please feel invited to do so.

The point is that being a billionaire does not give Bill Gates any big economic advantage when it comes to buying, writing, and discussing books.

Today’s world of books, the availability of amazing books and opportunities to talk about books, is one of the reasons that I feel so fortunate to be living in this time.

When it comes to books, we are wealthier than the wealthiest person that has ever lived.

In our book life, we can do everything that a billionaire can do.

What are you reading?



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