The Root of all Evil -- Lack of Money
Margaret Langstaff -- 12/4/00
The boom has gone bust, a sign of the times that's reflected in
the new crop of finance and investing titles
It's such a shame, really. All those bull market nouveaux riches, having just built their mansions, bought the Porsche, a private jet, a piece of an island in the Caribbean, are waking up one morning and finding--egad!--the $7 million has shriveled to $700,000. Their executive stock options aren't worth much and (oh, no) they might have to work beyond their 35th birthday before they can retire.
It's all so tawdry. So middle class. What happened?
Opinions differ, but since PW visited this subject last year, the tech sector has been routed soundly, millions of newly minted investors or traders (as the case may be) are shell-shocked and something called "value investing" is suddenly in the news. Watercooler talk is about (choke) a bear market.
"The year 2000 has been a sobering experience for most investors," says Jeffrey Krames, publisher and editor-in-chief of McGraw-Hill. "There are no more double-digit returns. The Dow and S&P are down 7 to 10%, NASDAQ is down 25%. Everyone wants to know, 'Is the party over?'"
At Dearborn, publisher Cynthia Zigmund tells PW, "People want to be prepared for a bear market, and there are many relatively new investors who've never been through one. Now they're getting interested in such things as long-term investing and value investing."
"The reality is that a lot of people are losing their shirts," declares Suzanne Oaks, senior editor at Broadway. "They've been forced to become more realistic and have gotten sick of utopian books. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated about the money books they're buying." The books that will last, she adds, "will be very realistic."
Buy It for a Nickel, Sell It for a DimeOver the last several years, says Mark Butler, editor-in-chief at Hungry Minds (formerly IDG Books), "More and more people have gotten the means and the opportunity to invest in the markets. Although that technically means they have greater opportunities to strike it rich, they also have more opportunities to make big mistakes."
In the words of Hyperion senior editor Leslie Wells, "People have to decide what philosophy is most relevant to their personal situations--what's their time frame, what are their immediate and longer-term financial goals." This should determine, she says, where they invest their money. "If safety was the key for you in the recent past, the so-called safe stocks may have returned only modest profits; but now safety seems more appealing with the flight from high-tech stocks and the potential economic slowdown. The rediscovery of the 'old economy' stocks leads to a recognition that a balanced approach to the stock market is probably the best in the long run."
Says Gene Brissie, publisher at Prentice Hall Press, "Half of U.S. households are now stock owners. That's up 50% from 10 years ago. It's a result of a lot of things, 401(k) programs, IRAs, online trading, the Federal Reserve's focus on stabilizing the market. Boomers are in their peak earning years, their prime investing years." Moreover, he continues, "They have to invest, regardless of market moods and whims, because the specter of retirement is just around the corner."
And God forfend that the pilgrim investor should have to face this task unaided. On the contrary, his or her challenge is sorting through the deluge of investment tomes publishers are sending to market.
There is no shortage of general investment books or investment books with a particular angle, focus or shtick. Indeed, says Bob Adams, CEO of Adams Media, "It is a very competitive publishing market." Adams tries to distinguish itself from the crowd by emphasizing "high value for price points," says Adams. Along these lines the publisher has just released in trade paperback The 100 Best Stocks You Can Buy 2001 by John Slatter and FastRead INVESTING by Rich Mintzer, the first book in a new series designed to give readers the answers they need fast. "People have taken investing into their own hands," Adams says. "They think they're geniuses and can pick stocks by themselves." Dearborn is targeting these "geniuses" with several new titles, some of them annuals: The 100 Best Stocks to Own for Under $25, second edition, by Gene Walden, Wall Street's Picks 2001 by Literary Productions and Socially Responsible Investing: Make Money While You Make a Difference by Amy Domini, "the woman whose name is on the premier index of socially responsible companies, and who has become one of the most visible and outspoken advocates for SRI," says the publisher. From Crown in May comes Off the Record by Craig Gordon, which explains how to do your own detective work on the companies you invest in, "very much in the tradition of Peter Lynch," notes Will Weisser, publicity director for Crown Business.
The Currency imprint at Doubleday, says editor Roger Scholl, is harnessing the marketing clout of a powerhouse Web site with TheStreet.com Guide to Smart Investing in the Internet Age by Dave Kansas and the writers of TheStreet.com. Scholl notes, however, that this December release "is not linked strictly to online trading. And the fact of the matter is individuals can do better than the Wall Street firms if they have the right information. They can move more quickly and are not limited by rules and bureaucracy." In January Currency will release the paperback edition of Eight Steps to Seven Figures: The Investment Strategies of Everyday Millionaires and How You Can Become Wealthy Too by Charles B. Carlson.
HarperBusiness just released in October The Message of the Markets: How Financial Markets Foretell the Future and How You Can Profit from Their Guidance by CNBC anchor Ron Insana, a title the house continues to back with "multimedia" promotion, according to associate publisher Lisa Berkowitz. "If properly interpreted," says HB, "the markets' signals can help individuals make the right investment decisions, guide them in purchasing and career decisions, and even anticipate political events." Harper has high hopes for a June release, e-Stocks: Finding the Hidden Blue Chips Among the Internet Imposters by Peter S. Cohan, CNBC commentator and investment consultant. This is a book, the publisher says, that "will show readers how to separate the truth from the lies in the wildly hyped world of Internet stocks and the first book to show investors how to determine the real worth of these volatile, highly charged stocks."
Those readers interested in a homier approach might want to consult The Kitchen-Table Investor: Low-risk, Low-maintenance Strategies for Working Families by John F. Wasik (Holt/Owl, Jan.). "Based on proven techniques that minimize risk, stress and the demands on one's time," says the publisher, this is a "time-tested, low-stress investment strategy for the rest of us."The popular Dummies line from Hungry Minds is adding to its investing titles in the new year. The third edition of Mutual Funds for Dummies ships in April with "completely updated market data and analysis," says Butler, "and increased online coverage. It will include year-end 2000 data." And the Investing Online Bible by Lynn O'Shaughnessy is a new title in Hungry Mind's four-year-old Bible line that tells you everything you need to know on a given subject. Butler says that this summer release is "friendly, accessible, and provides comprehensive coverage of all major investing areas: fundamentals, strategies, types of investment instruments and more."
Launched this fall by DK, the Essential Finance series will eventually have at least 12 trade paperback titles with an average length of 72 pages. Many of the titles deal with investing, such as last month's Choosing the Right Stocks and Investing Basics by Marc Robinson and, coming in April, Robinson's Mutual Fund Investing 401(k) and IRA Investing by Robinson and Dallas Salisbury. "These books were originally published in England," notes publicist Tom Riley, "and have been broken down to bite-sized pieces from larger, more comprehensive DK titles."
At Simon & Schuster, senior editor Fred Hills reports that the publisher, in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal, will launch Wall Street Journal Books in February with Winning with the Market: Beat the Traders and Brokers with a Proven Investment Strategy by Douglas R. Sease, a 24-year Journal veteran and CNBC commentator. Due in May is Networth: Successful Investing in the Companies That Will Dominate the Internet Economy (They're Not Always the Ones You Expect) in which author Stephen E. Frank "spends his entire day talking to Internet executives," Hills explains. "He gives the reader a framework to understand what their companies do."
Krames at McGraw-Hill tells PW, "Our core audience is the active investor. And regardless of how or what the market is doing, as we learned from Jack Welch, when you're number one in the marketplace, your products always come out well. It's the imitators that get creamed. We publish for the world market. We think global and live it every day." Up to 30 to 40% of a title's sales, according to Krames, can come from overseas markets. "Our strategy," he explains, "is to publish a full range of books for everyone." Among McGraw-Hill's recently published titles on investing are: Valuing Wall Street: Protecting Wall Street Profits with Nobel Laureate James Tobin's q Ratio, in which Andrew Smithers and Stephen Wright talk about how to predict market tops; The McGraw-Hill Investor's Desk Reference by Ellie Williams; and The Research Driven Investor: How to Use Information, Data and Analysis for Investment Success by Timothy Hayes. Due in the first quarter of 2001 are Outpacing the Pros: Using Indexes to Beat Wall Street's Savviest Money Managers by David Blitzer; Think Like a Trader, Invest Like a Pro by Christina Ray; and Inside Technology Stocks: Secrets to Investing in Today's Hottest Companies by Bruce Wells.
Prentice Hall Press has three sturdy titles sure to capture an investor's attention. The first, out next month, is another in PHP's growing line of business and investment books based on historical figures: The Lack of Money Is the Root of All Evil: Mark Twain's Timeless Wisdom on Money and Wealth for Today's Investor by Andrew Leckey. Born in poverty in Missouri in 1835, Twain died a wealthy man in Connecticut in 1910. According to the publisher, he "amassed great wealth by age 50, went bankrupt when he was 60, and he became wealthy again at 70"--clearly an outstanding role model in this publishing arena. Other forthcoming PHP investment titles are Mutual Fund Investor's Guide 2001 by Kirk Kazanjian (Jan.) and NASDAQ-100 Investor's Guide 2001-02 by Michael C. Byrum and John L. Jacobs (Apr.).
Another entry in the mutual funds sweepstakes was published last month by Perseus: Chuck Jaffe's Lifetime Guide to Mutual Funds by syndicated personal finance columnist Chuck Jaffe. According to senior publicist Peter Hale, "We've all heard the proverb 'Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.' That's the philosophy behind Chuck's book: he gives his readers the tools needed to independently weigh their options, analyze the market and map their own investment strategy."
Finance book impresario Truman Talley is back with What Wall Street D sn't Want You to Know: How You Can Profit from the Indexing Revolution by Larry E. Swedr (St. Martin's, Jan.). "Counter to the philosophy of following stocks and trading actively," Talley remarks, "this book deals with index funds and passive investing, which has been the way to go for some years and is becoming increasingly popular in the current market."
Another new release dealing with index funds sports a title that should strike a chord with Regis Philbin and his many fans: coming next month from Renaissance Books is Millionaire: You Can Become One on Your Lunch Money by Wayne Wagner and Al Winnikoff.
Valuing and selecting stocks through technical analysis is also gaining a larger following as the market persists in acting like a lava lamp, according to Krames of McGraw-Hill and Wiley publisher Joan O'Neil. Wiley's title is The Big Tech Score: A Top Wall Street Analyst Reveals Ten Secrets to Investing Success by Michael Kwatinetz and Danielle Kwatinetz Wood (Jan.), and McGraw-Hill will publish Understanding Technical Analysis by Charles Kaplan (Apr.). Brokerage firm analysts themselves come under fire in a Bloomberg Press title, coming in May--The Pied Pipers of Wall Street: How Analysts Sell You Down the River is by Benjamin Cole, a financial writer for 20 years who currently pens the "Wall Street West" column for the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Texere's November title Latticework: The New Investing by Robert Hagstrom explains how to understand the financial markets through pattern recognition, drawing on analogies between the financial markets and physics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and literature.
Pay Yourself FirstThe public's appetite for basic books on money management, budgeting and financial planning, according to publishers, is as reliable as an annuity. You'd think writer-experts would run out of things to say, but times change and so must the money manuals. Warner has a big one coming in January: Talking Money: Everything You Need to Know About Your Finances and Your Future by Jean Chatzky, Money magazine and USA Weekend magazine columnist and regular contributor to NBC's Today. "People just love her," says senior editor Rick Wolff. "This book is very straightforward about what to do, how to solve problems. Jean covers all the major topics most people are plagued by in her signature no-nonsense fashion, sans spirituality and fuzziness."
Oaks at Broadway promises a money management title with a new twist, February's Smart Couples Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner by David Bach, author of Smart Women Finish Rich. "He has quite a franchise," Oaks observes, "with the Smart Women Finish Rich seminars. This is a book about helping couples talk about money with a 'Let's take this on together' approach."
With Declare Your Financial Independence, Adams Media enters the money management field in February. Author Cindy McIntyre, says the publisher, "shows readers how to find the money hidden in their existing budgets and use it to get things they really want." A similar title, though using a fitness metaphor, will be published by Crown in January: 52 Weeks to Financial Fitness: The Week by Week Plan for Making Your Money Grow by Marshall L b, former managing editor of Fortune and Money magazines. And for those who believe that attitude is everything, Hyperion remakes the bestselling Don't Worry, Make Money into Don't Sweat the Small Stuff About Money by Dr. Richard Carlson of the Don't Sweat series, due January.
Dearborn offers two titles for the money-management challenged. Everyone's Money Book by Jordan Goodman is coming in May in a third revised edition that is "basically brand new," says Zigmund, and ships at nearly 1,000 pages. And summer's Family Finance: The Essential Guide for Parents by Ann Douglas and Elzabeth Lewin is directed at people just starting a family.
Real Women Pick Stocks Men have spent millennia trying to figure out what women really want. Finally a raft of books in coming months lays it bare: chicks want cash, man. They want the freedom to pick and choose. It's genetic. It's a chromosome thing.
Just-published A Woman's Guide to Savvy Investing: Everything You Need to Know to Protect Your Future by Marsha Bertrand (Amacom) tells it like it is. "A 1990 New York Stock Exchange survey showed that 49% of all new stockholders are women. The Internal Revenue Service says that 42% of the households with assets of $600,000 or more are headed by women," according to this book. Forget about Prince Charming, the husband, the boyfriends and fast-talking stock brokers, girls. You can do it on your own.
Crown Business, with a tip of the hat perhaps to Ya-Ya Sisterhood, will pub in April an online investment club guide called Chicks Laying Nest Eggs by Chicks club founder Karin Housely. The club's members trade on the last Sunday of every month at their computers while wearing yellow pajamas. The group of 10 women has an investment philosophy, a 12-step investment plan inspired by Peter Lynch, Warren Buffet and the Motley Fool, and a Web site. They've been at it since 1998 and their portfolio has returned almost 48% through the middle of September of this year. And they've already been featured in Business Week. Plainly they're running out of things to do, so they're going to tell other women how to be just as successful and provide online services for other investment clubs. Movie rights? Check it out.
Broadway presents its own angle on this theme: Girl, Get Your Money Straight! A Sister's Guide to Healing Your Bank Account and Finding Your Dreams in 7 Simple Steps by Glinda Bridgforth, a January title. The publisher says the Wall Street Journal states that black women are currently the demographic most eager for financial counseling and advice. Bridgforth, a former assistant v-p with Wells Fargo Bank, is a regular contributor to Essence, Black Enterprise and Money magazines and runs her own financial management company.
How to De-Capitate Your KidsAs every parent knows, kids want everything, budgets be damned. There has been no safe, legal, effective way of discouraging this until now. But with the forthcoming publication of a trio of books, parents will have weapons that pain but don't maim. To wit, these books teach parents to teach their little rascals how to make their own bread.
Robert Kiyosaki (with Sharon Lechter) strikes again with Rich Dad'sRich Kid, Smart Kid: Giving Your Children a Financial Headstart from Warner Business. The publisher bills the January release as a "practical guide to for parents to teach their children finance." Simon & Schuster recently released Wall Street Wizard: Sound Ideas from a Savvy Teen Investor by 18-year-old Jay Liebowitz. This whiz kid, an investor at age 12, has been delivering financial advice since 1996 from his Web site. This is a book written for teens ready to get serious about making the most of their money. Originally self-published (Popcorn Press) and picked up by IPG for publication this spring, Capitate Your Kids: Teaching Your Teens Financial Independence by John E. Whitcomb explains Whitcomb's original and systematic technique for teaching kids how to manage money responsibly. "Capitate" is a financial term used in Whitcomb's day job (chief of the 84-member emergency medical department at St. Luke's Hospital in Milwaukee) and describes a contract in which doctors and hospitals are paid a fixed amount each month to care for a population of patients.
The Online Universe and Day TradingRegardless of how technical stocks and the dot.coms are doing, the Net has changed the technology of and increased a thousandfold the amount of information available for investing. Everyone agrees that it's a vast improvement and here to stay, but, like everything in the wired age, it is evolving and transforming on a daily basis. Books just try to keep up. Even the Rough Guides folks, those indefatigable publishers of travel guidebooks to countless destinations, have added the Web to their list of must-visit spots. Out last month was The Rough Guide to Money Online, in which author John Scalzi promises to "make you an online finance whiz in the shortest possible time."
Other just-published titles along this (on) line are The Everything Online Investing Book by Harry Domash(Adams), The Online Trading Survival Guide: An Indispensable Handbook for Today's Wired Investor by Jack J. Guinan (Dearborn)and CNBC 24/7 Trading: Around the Clock, Around the World by Barbara Rockefeller (Wiley).
Adams Media recently released How to Retire Early and Live Well with Less Than a Million Dollars by Gillette Edmunds--who retired at 29, which says it all. From Holt in January we can look forward to Retire Early--and Live the Life You Want Now by John F. Wasik, "an inspired blend of financial and lifestyle wisdom that redefines how we see retirement and helps us start living the lives we want today," says the publisher. Hungry Minds is serving up in the summer everything you ever wanted to know about retirement, and more, with The Retirement Bible by Lynn O'Shaughnessy. In Money for Life, just published by HarperBusiness, author Robert Sheard "redefines the concept of 'retirement' as an issue of financial independence that can be achieved at any age. Eschewing the traditional approach to retirement at 65, the book acknowledges that boomers are in a hurry. They want to get on with their lives, change careers, take sabbaticals--in short, to pursue their dreams." A January HarperBusiness title, The Die Broke Complete Book of Money: Unconventional Wisdom About Everything from Annuities to Zero Coupon Bonds by Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine, takes an aggressive approach.
Stock options are two words near and dear to the hearts of those looking toward retirement years, and Tom Taulli addresses the issue in Stock Options: Getting Your Share of the Action (Bloomberg Press, Jan.). Taulli, author of a semi-monthly column on the topic for CBS Marketwatch, explains the basics, says the publisher, and "skillfully guides readers through the complex language and logic of incentive stock options, nonqualified stock options, contract terms and securities laws."
A name beloved by all adherents of discount brokering, Charles Schwab, is attached to Crown Business's January title You're Fifty--Now What?: Investing for the Second Half of Your Life. Schwab, founder, chairman and co-CEO of the brokerage firm that bears his name, "helps readers create a financial strategy for the second half of their lives, pointing out that what may have worked for earlier generations no longer works today when retirement can last for thirty, forty, or more years," says the publisher.
Dearborn's offering in the retirement field is The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams... at Any Age You Want by Mitch Anthony. The author, according to Zigmund, "is turning the traditional concept of retirement on its head," and dispels such myths as Retirement Means Not Working and You Have to Reach Age 62 to Do What You Want. A more spiritual approach to this big life passage is offered in Preparing to Thrive in the New Retirement: How to Secure Financial Freedom and Live Out Your Dreams by Dan Benson, released in October by Word.
Of Making Many Books There Is No End
It's a truism among old-time stockbrokers who used to handle the majority of trades (seven or eight years ago, remember?) that it mattered not whether the market went up or down; they got their cut whichever way the wind blew. While that old chestnut has been exploded by the Net and online trading, publishers' version of it, for the time being, has not. The more turmoil, confusion and volatility economic life contains, the greater the demand for timely advice (as opposed to raw information). That function is still handled best by books.
Adrian Zackheim, publisher of HarperBusiness, puts it this way: "With the uncertainty in the markets, we feel that this is a potentially huge year for books that offer reliable advice from trusted sources and practical solutions for the sagging equity market." Clearly, judging from the preview of new releases in personal finance and investing, publishers are poised to pocket their fair share of the profits spawned by all the confusion.
Though the popularity of specific gurus changes with the market, guru books remain a category killer. Lesllie Wells of Hyperion remarks, "Even with a market turndown leaving many investors feeling burned, there's still a lot of optimism, particularly for people with long-term investment time frames. Publishing the investment gurus is still a thriving market, particularly [publishing] the ones who've been predicting just this sort of economic turndown."
Other guru books on the shelves or in the pipes include Money Masters of Our Time by John Train (Sept. 2000) and Stock Market Wizards: Interviews with America's Top Stock Traders by Jack D. Schwager (Jan. 2001) from HarperBusiness; The Wealth Creators: The Rise of Today's Rich and Super-Rich by Roy C. Smith (Feb. 2001) , a Truman Talley Book from St. Martin's; and the first title in the new Great Ideas in Finance series from McGraw-Hill, John Bogle on Investing: The First 50 Years by John Bogle, the legendary founder of the Vanguard Group and the father of the index fund. The Bogle book, pubbed in September, has already gone back to press, says McGraw-Hill publisher Krames, for an additional 50,000 copies. Krames g s on to say that "the new series is the Academy Awards of investing. These are the ideas and authors who have changed the course of an industry."
Volume 246 Issue 49 12/04/2000