I was offered a review copy of a book called Gems from Warren Buffett which is basically selected snippets from Warren Buffett’s Letter to Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. I read it and it was entertaining, but there was no real original material other than the contribution of organizing the quoted portions into themes like “Managing With Style” or “Market Forces”. It was also short; the book was small with large print and still only ran a little more than 100 pages.
I suppose if the author was another notable investor the curation might be useful, but that wasn’t the case. I’m actually a little surprised that even Buffett granted permission for this book to be published, although he did stipulate a condition that 20% of print and eBook sales (not just profits!) will be donated to a charity that he supports (Glide.org).
In any case, I can’t say that I recommend buying the book. Instead, if you’re really serious about learning insights into Warren Buffett’s way of investing and business management, do what other serious investors do and read the full, unabridged letters. Buffett is known for spending a good deal of time carefully writing the letters to be both informative and understandable. In fact, the letters from 1977 to 2011 are available free to all on the Berkshire Hathaway website.
In addition, motivated individuals online have scrapped together the older Berkshire letters and even letters from when Buffett just ran an limited investment partnership for family members and close acquaintances (basically a small hedge fund). Here are a couple of compilations that are hosted on a site called Scribd. They are free to view online, but to download as a .PDF file you must either pay or upload something yourself for 24 hours of free access (not that hard). Good stuff.
Berkshire Letter Compilation #1 (1969-2009)
Berkshire Letter Compilation #2 (1957-2010)