Outstanding Business Reference Sources: The 2009 Selection of Recent Titles

BRASS Business Reference Sources Committee

Each year the Business Reference Sources Committee of BRASS selects the outstanding business reference sources published since May of the previous year. The committee reviewed thirty-seven entries; three were designated as “outstanding,” and seven were placed into the other noteworthy titles category. These works cover a variety of topics, including the business of sports, investing, global business, international marketing, energy, finance, product management, the history of business, popular business books, and economic globalization. To qualify for the award the title must meet the conventional definition of reference: a work compiled specifically to supply information on a certain subject or group of subjects in a form that will facilitate its ease of use. The works are examined for the following: authority and reputation of the publisher, author, or editor; accuracy; appropriate bibliography; organization; comprehensiveness; value of the content; currency; unique addition; ease of use for the intended purpose; quality and accuracy of index; and quality and usefulness of graphics and illustrations. Each year more electronic reference titles are published. Additional criteria for electronic reference titles are accuracy of links, search features, stability of content, and graphic design. Works selected must be suitable for medium- to large-sized academic and public libraries.

Outstanding Titles

The Business of Sports. Ed. Brad R. Humphreys and Dennis R. Howard. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2008. 3 vols. alkaline $300 (ISBN 978-0-275-99340-5).

The sports industry is the setting for this three-volume set of thirty-three intriguing articles written by well-known experts, including Andrew Zimbalist. The broad scope of the industry is explained by editor Brad Humphreys, economics professor, University of Alberta, in the first chapter; then the focus is on the major economic issues facing spectator sports in the United States. Its greatest strengths are the background and succinct overviews of these contemporary issues, as well as the inclusion of numerous tables (some adapted from proprietary sources).

Interesting topics among the thirty-three chapters include salary caps, franchise relocations and expansions, stadium financing, and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in college football. Tables with detailed statistics assist the reader with the information needed to formulate a well-reasoned position or action plan. These tables include, for example, expansion fees for major league franchises (since 1960); public subsidies for major league sports facilities (by decade); ticket sales, revenues, and number of visitors to the Olympic Games (1984–2004); and college football postseason bowl revenues and expenses.

The effect of “mega-events” (such as the Super Bowl and the Olympic Games) on local and regional economies is one of the most compelling chapters. The author notes that many estimates are “wildly optimistic” about the number of visitors and their spending habits at such events, and also explains why the economic effect may be overstated. Other chapters include the economic reasons why rich teams fail to win championship after championship (the Coase theorem) as well as why so many NFL stadiums have luxury boxes (most of the revenue is typically listed as concession revenue, which is not shared with other teams).

There is some overlap with two recent titles. The Handbook on the Economics of Sport (Elgar, 2006) contains eighty-six chapters and includes many international sports (e.g., British horse racing, soccer in Spain). The Economics of Sport (Elgar, 2001), edited by Andrew Zimbalist, contains seventy-two chapters with themes similar to The Business of Sport. While eight are focused on college sports, they are narrow topics (though nonetheless interesting, such as the chapter “An Estimate of the Rent Generated by a Premium College Football Player”).

With so many teams and issues covered, some index omissions and errors are understandable. Still, it is surprising that “Florida State University” is an entry in the index to volume 1, yet the text notes “South Florida,” a different university. And to find the discussion of the “Larry Bird rule,” one has to search for “Bird, Larry” in the index to volume 2. A combined three-volume index would have been useful.

Ideal for students and informed general readers seeking background information and statistics on major economic issues in professional and amateur sports, The Business of Sports is highly recommended for most collections.—Patricia Kenly, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

Encyclopedia of Alternative Investments. Ed. Greg N. Gregoriou. Boca Raton, Fla.: Chapman & Hall/CRC, 2008. 249.95 (ISBN 978-1-4200-6488-9).

Interest in “alternative investments” is not a recent phenomenon. Economic Selection of Alternative Risk Investments, by J. M. English and R. H. Haase, was published by the Ft. Belvoir Defense Technical Information Center in 1963. More recently, the online journal, Alternative Investment News, began publication in 2000. Drastic changes in the economy and the downward spiral that has affected retirement savings have led to renewed interest in managing investment risks, and the Encyclopedia of Alternative Investments provides a valuable starting point for individuals who desire a better understanding of the key concepts. According to the introduction, this reference source is meant to be the “most authoritative source … for academics, students, professionals, and practitioners … on hedge funds, managed futures, commodities, and venture capital.”

The encyclopedia contains 545 entries, covering topics traditionally found in this field as well as topics unfamiliar to many novice investors until recently, such as “Collateralized debt obligation (CDO).” Compared to other investment-related encyclopedias, this work seems to contain a broader and more diverse set of concepts. The one-to-two page entries are thorough, concise, and informative without being too complicated. Each has a list of print and online references at the end for further research. Many have interesting illustrative examples. Each entry also has a brief bibliography, many of which are reasonably up-to-date, referring to works published in 2006 and 2007. There is a table of contents and a twenty-page index with practical cross-references. The entry for “Emerging markets,” for example, contains a cross-reference to “Developing countries.”

Greg N. Gregoriou, the editor, is professor of finance in the School of Business and Economics at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh. He has published extensively in the finance world and serves as the hedge fund editor for the Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds as well as an editorial board member of the Journal of Wealth Management and the Journal of Risk Management in Financial Institutions. Members of the editorial board have academic affiliations, and there are more than 120 contributors from Europe and North America, from both academic institutions and finance and investment professions.

The Encyclopedia of Alternative Investments is an excellent ready reference source for business and related social science reference collections. It is more thorough than the 2007 resource, Concise Encyclopedia of Investing, by D. W. Oglesby, which provides definitions for a small subset of the most common investment terms but also benefits by providing an examples section for each term defined. The Encyclopedia of Alternative Investments also is available as an e-book on the ECHO and EBL platforms.—Gene Hayworth, University of Colorado, Boulder

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