Even before the tragic events of September 11, America's biggest boom economy since World War II was over. Whether the beginning of the end dates back to the summer or even earlier to last March, as a recent posting on the Web site of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., indicates, 0% financing seems to be all that's holding the retail sector together after 10 years of unfettered growth.
During the bull market, "The stock market, especially the Nasdaq, was like a broken slot machine," says Steve Ross, editorial director of Crown and Crown Business. "What we saw was that every single high-falutin' theory seemed to work. People who had previously resisted temptation to invest started to go hog wild."
Now that the going is tough, he and other business-book publishers are banking on the fact that people will need books more than ever before. Obviously the get-rich-quick, retire young and day trading titles are no longer on anyone's A list. What most people want in these volatile days are easy-to-follow primers to help them through hard investing times. As Ross puts it, "Certainly, as the economy has retreated, we're seeing a back-to-basics approach, time-tested theories of what works and what doesn't work." Jill Alexander, business editor at Adams Media, has her own term for what people are looking for--"the 're' phase: a time to repair, reassess, reevaluate. There are people who have lost half their portfolios. Going forward, those books are going to be very popular."
"If you want a friend, get a dog; don't fall in love with a stock," warns Anthony M. Gallea in Bulls Make Money, Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered: Investment Wisdom That Stands the Test of Time (Prentice Hall, Jan.), a collection of adages from Wall Street, which takes its name from the saw. For investors seeking more specific recommendations on their portfolios, there are lots of comprehensive, easy-to-read books. In fact, so many titles are part of this trend that, if investors read every one back to back, they'd keep busy until well past the likely end of the recession in February, if NBER's prediction is right.
Two series that have fallen on hard times of late are the ubiquitous yellow Dummies books, which are now published by Wiley's Hungry Minds imprint, and the bright orange Complete Idiot's guides. "Some of our top-selling Idiot's guides of all times are from this category," notes Dawn Werk, marketing manager of Alpha. "Right now is not a great time to be publishing those topics." But cutting back is relative: six Complete Idiot's guides have come out since July, including titles on money managing, 401(k)s and surviving bankruptcy. Hungry Minds has just one new finance release in the works, Stock Investing for Dummies by Paul Mladjenovic (May).
In these less exuberant days, first-time investors should proceed with caution. That's the message of Ten Speed's The Small Investor: A Beginner's Guide to Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds by Jim Gard (Apr.). Also due that month, from Barron's, is the third edition of L. Murphy Smith and D. Larry Crumbley's Keys to Personal Financial Planning, which continues to be a planning staple. Amacom's The Informed Investor: A Hype-Free Guide to Constructing a Sound Financial Portfolio by Frank Armstrong (Mar.) offers straightforward advice on stock market basics, as does Toni Turner's A Beginner's Guide to Short Term Trading: How to Maximize Your Profits in 3 Days to 3 Weeks (Adams Media, Jan.).
Several new reference books are geared to helping would-be stock mavens understand business lingo. From Barron's comes the paperback Dictionary of International Investment Terms by Joe K. Shim and Joel G. Siegel (Nov.), while the Times Books imprint of Holt contains 3,500 investing terms in its paperback original The New York Times Dictionary of Money and Investing: The Essential A-to-Z Guide to the Language of the New Market by Gretchen Morgenson and Campbell R. Harvey (Apr.). Once investors have the vocabulary down pat, what's next? Two annual Adams Media titles, due next month, offer advice on making the most dollars and cents out of every investment: The 100 Best Stocks You Can Buy 2002 by John Slatter and The 100 Best Mutual Funds You Can Buy 2002 by Gordon K. Williamson. In addition, Bloomberg Press fills an unusual back-to-basics niche for small business owners with The Business Owner's Guide to Personal Finance by Inc. magazine finance editor Jill Andresky Fraser (Jan.). According to Bloomberg marketing manager Andrew Feldman, "it's the first book to address the personal finance needs of entrepreneurs, whose business is their paycheck."
Among the single-subject books written with new investors in mind is Carrie Mauriello's Net Worth, 2nd edition (Butterworth Heinemann, Oct.), which details how to use the Internet for financial planning. Jim McCamant covers Biotech Investing: Every Investor's Guide (Perseus, Mar.), while John Glynn, Martin O'Shannessy and Rob Goodfellow explore investing dos and don'ts Down Under in Investing in Australia: A Cultural & Practical Guide (Allen & Unwin, Oct.). For the mathematically inclined, Morton D. Davis uses brainteasers to explain The Math of Money: Making Sense of Your Personal Finances (Copernicus, Aug.).
At McGraw-Hill, which likes to "have a deep and balanced portfolio of investing books," according to Jeffrey Krames, publisher of the business book division, reference titles have long been a staple. In cooperation with sister company Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill has long published annual guides to the S&P 400, 500 and 600. In April, the two will pair up again for a new series of paperback Standard & Poor's Stock Sector Guides covering top-rated companies in market sectors such as finance; technology; health care, pharmaceutical and biotech; energy; and communication and telecom.
The success of Warner's Rich Dad, Poor Dad books has encouraged other business publishers to be downright bullish when it comes to introducing new series and refining older ones. Ironically, in these back-to-basics days, Warner executive editor Rick Wolff, who oversees the Warner Business Book imprint, attributes the bestseller status of Robert Kiyosaki's series to its appeal to "people [who] want an alternative to basics. Everyone got burned this fall by their 401(k)s; we all got seduced by a run-up of the market. People are looking for a different way to accumulate wealth."
Kiyosaki may have gotten his start in real estate, but ever since he teamed up with Sharon Lechter for his first book--about the wealthy real-life father of one of his best friends and his own poor dad--he's been hearing the ca-ching! of book sales. Wolff estimates that Kiyosaki's books have sold 10 million copies to date worldwide. Warner Business alone has sold almost two million copies of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which Kiyosaki originally self-published in 1997. The two newest entries in the series are Real Estate Riches: How to Become Rich Using Your Broker's Money by Dolf de Roos (Oct.) and, coming next month, Rich Dad's Retire Young, Retire Rich: How to Get Rich Quickly and Stay Rich Forever by Kiyosaki with Lechter.
At Wiley, says Joan O'Neil, publisher of the finance, professional/trade division, "The strategy going forward is to diversify and really publish to a wide group of people." That translates into not only publishing books that focus on core business topics, but also refining older series, like its CNBC series, and adding a new one with Smart Money magazine. "Brands and platforms are critical," says O'Neil, "because of increasing competition and a slowing marketplace." For the CNBC series, Wiley has decided to drop the price point by shifting from cloth to paperback originals and to delay some titles. It's also adding four-color throughout, starting with next month's CNBC Guide to Money and Markets: Everything You Need to Know About Your Finances and Investments by Jeff Wuorio. In contrast, two Smart Money books by Nellie S. Huang and Peter Finch due out in February will both be hardcovers: The Smart Money Stock Picker's Bible and The Smart Money Guide to Long-Term Investing: How to Build Real Wealth for Retirement and Future Goals. Crown is taking a different approach to sticker shock with its Crown Business Briefings series, launching in May with Bubbleology: The Amazing Science of Stock Market Bubbles by Kevin Hassett and How the Markets Really Work by Joel Kurtzman. "We're looking at hardcover books of about 150 pages at a low price point," says Ross. "We know that the business reader has a scarcity of time. The books are loosely modeled on the Penguin Lives series."
Three-year-old Entrepreneur Press, the book publishing division of Entrepreneur Media, is launching its first series in May. The Mentor series will kick off with a paperback original called Financing Your New or Growing Business: How to Find and Get Venture Capital by Ralph Alterowitz and John Zonderman, and will add personal finance titles in the fall. Editorial director Jere L. Calmes calls these "true handholding titles. They're going to be shorter than Dummies and proactive about what to invest in." Calmes also has high hopes for individual finance titles such as David Rye's The Moonlighter's Short-Term Trading Bible (Apr.).
The best laid financial plans require at least a modicum of lucre to succeed. That coupled with a rising unemployment rate has made frugality and money-consciousness two key trends this season. As Lisa Berkowitz, associate publishing director at HarperBusiness, points out, "In the wake of 9/11 and the current recession, the focus is on what you need to do right now. A renewed sense of urgency and immediacy has taken hold of everyone's financial consciousness." For her that translates into titles like Ron Gallen's January release, The Money Trap: A Practical Program to Stop Self-Defeating Financial Habits so You Can Reclaim Your Grip on Life, which approaches money disorders like other addictions.
Money Mastery by Alan M. Williams et al. (Career Press, Mar.) offers a 10-step program to help people who struggle with personal finance. The authors show how to eliminate debt, including costly mortgages, in nine years or less. Similarly, Stacy Johnson, host of Money Talks TV-news spots, takes his cue from AA for his eight-step program for getting out from under debt, Life or Debt: A One-Week Plan for a Lifetime of Financial Freedom by Stacy Johnson (Ballantine, Dec.). But in today's layoff-driven world, it can be especially hard to get ahead financially. For many ex-employees, Edie Milligan's Blindsided: Financial Advice for the Suddenly Unemployed (Alpha, Dec.) couldn't be more timely.
Stretching the budget as taut as it will go is something that Angie Zalewski and Deana Ricks, aka the Frugal Family Network, know a lot about. They got their start proselytizing about the value of thrift four years ago when they gave a talk at their local church on "Stretching the Family Dollar or How I Bought a Minivan by Washing Out Baggies"--something that Zalewski actually did by feeding her family of four on $135 a month. Their latest title, last September's Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends, boasts more than 500 money-saving tips.
Radio talk-show host Clark Howard, whose nationally syndicated program airs on 200 stations, recommends what Hyperion senior editor Mary Ellen O'Neill calls "the Suze Orman meets the Tightwad Gazette approach." Get Clark Smart: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Rich from America's Money-Saving Expert was originally published by Long Street Books and has been revised with about 25% new material. O'Neill is such a strong believer in Howard's message that she signed him for two more books. If she had any doubts that he practices what he preaches, his sales conference tab convinced her: $36 for a one-way ticket from Atlanta to New York and under $100 for a suite in a noted New York City hotel.
And who says money can't buy happiness? Financial planner Kevin McKinley's step-by-step paperback original, Make Your Kid a Millionaire: 11 Easy Ways Anyone Can Secure a Child's Financial Future (Fireside, Jan.), shows how investing as little as $13 a month, or 41¢ a day, you can make your child a millionaire at age 65. "I love this book," enthuses senior editor Doris Cooper. "It shows parents how to provide financial freedom and security for their children, so that financial burdens such as college loans don't haunt into middle age." Another title that offers smart ways to make college more affordable is the third edition of Kristin Davis's Financing College, which was published by Kiplinger in September.
Coping with Volatility
But sometimes financial hurdles can seem like immovable obstacles when the economy's in retreat. "In times of uncertainty," says McGraw-Hill's Krames, "people look for stability." He's convinced that they can find it in books like Jeremy Siegel's Stocks for the Long Run, 3rd Edition (May), which has been updated with information on how the terrorist attacks affected the U.S. economy. "Siegel is the intellectual father of the bull market," says Krames, "and has stock records, which date back more than 200 years, that are even more comprehensive than those of the Wall Street Journal."
HarperBusiness has high hopes for its November release on volatility, Ric Edelman's Financial Security in Troubled Times: What You Need to Do Now, which had 150,000 copies in print before it got a sales boost from a pre-Thanksgiving Oprah appearance. Edelman's earlier appearance on her show helped push the paperback edition of his Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Another book that's starting out with an especially large first print-run in these frugal times is James K. Glassman's The Secret Code of the Superior Investor: How to Be a Long-Term Winner in a Short-Term World (Crown Business, Jan.). "We have very high hopes for this," says Ross, "although his previous book, Dow 36,000, has come back to haunt us. He shows you how to take a historical view. You're missing the point completely if you're focusing on whether the Fed is going to make another rate cut. This is all temporal and transient."
"There are so many books out there," comments Broadway senior editor Suzanne Oaks. "It's a tough market and it takes something unusual to stand out." In the wake of September 11 and the economic downturn, she's convinced that people need "survival guides" like Gregory Baer and Gary Gensler's The Great Mutual Fund Trap: An Investment Recovery Plan, a May 2002 title that stresses looking out for yourself when it comes to investing. "When you go to a doctor," Oaks points out, "you're going to get a second or third opinion, but you'll go to a financial adviser and turn over all your money." Other Doubleday/Currency titles that focus on healthy investing practices include Charles B. Carlson's The Smart Investor's Survival Guide: The Nine Laws of Successful Investing in a Volatile Market (Mar.) and Tobin Smith's October release, ChangeWave Investing 2.0: Picking the Next Monster Stocks While Protecting Your Gains in a Volatile Market.
Oh, if only everyone could, as Michael Parness suggests, Rule the Freakin' Markets: How to Profit in Any Market, Bull or Bear (St. Martin's, Mar.). After losing almost his entire nest egg, he came up with a winning strategy that enabled him to parlay his last $33,000 into more than $7 million. Now he's hoping to grow the audience for his book on how other investors can, too, with an infomercial that he test marketed last month. Even without the author's PR efforts, St. Martin's editor-in-chief George Witte anticipates a lot of attention for this book. "Parness is not a typical suit; he's very blunt. So many investment books are the same--they have either a 'surefire method' or they're very basic. Parness works with a program that balances long-term holds on the market and short sells." Ken Stern found out the hard way what happens when an investor abandons his plan for the latest fad. To Hell and Back: How I Survived Wall Street's Roller Coaster... and How You Can Too! (Dearborn, Jan.) recounts how he let himself get pushed into making investments that eventually went south, then earned back the money by sticking to his original plan.
Safety first is the message of several titles that emphasize long-term growth over short-term gain. Among them is the fifth book in Jason Kelly's Neatest Little Guide series, The Neatest Little Guide to Do-It-Yourself Investing: Time-Tested Principles for Making Money in Any Market (Plume, Jan.), and The New Rules of Personal Investing: The Experts' Guide to Prospering in a Changing Economy by Financial Correspondents of the New York Times (Times Books, Jan.). Other forthcoming titles written with the bear market in mind include David Faber's The Faber Report: CNBC's "The Brain" Tells You How Wall Street Really Works and How You Can Make It Work for You with Ken Kurson (Little, Brown, May), John F. Wasik's The Bear-Proof Investor: Prospering Safely in Any Market (Holt/Owl, Mar.) and Thomas A. Schweich's Crashproof Your Life: A Comprehensive, Three-Part Plan for Protecting Yourself from Financial Disasters (McGraw-Hill, Jan.).
Star-Struck: Women and Money
"Clearly one of the themes that has migrated into finance is celebrity," says Amacom senior editor Ray O'Connell. Based on tremendous sales--and press to match--Suze Orman is clearly the celebrity to beat. Her July release, The Road to Wealth: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Money (Riverhead), continues to sell steadily and has 572,000 copies in print. A financial contributor to NBC's Today and for CNBC, Orman has become a cottage industry almost on the scale of Martha Stewart. In January Riverhead will issue the paperback of The Courage to Be Rich, and Three Rivers is planning a March release for a paperback original workbook that goes with her 1997 Crown bestseller, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom--Suze Orman's Financial Guidebook: Putting the 9 Steps to Work.
Three Rivers also hopes to hit pay dirt with Ilyce R. Glink's 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Disaster-Proof Your Finances (May). The highly personable Glink, whose radio shows Real Estate USA and The Real Estate Minute are syndicated nationally, may not yet be in the same league as Orman, but she has sold 50,000 copies of 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Personal Finances, which came out last summer. An Oprah appearance was set for September 12; it's still pending as this feature went to press.
Perseus is hoping to use the PBS connection to help make Jennifer Openshaw, founder of the Women's Financial Network, a star. The trade paperback edition of last year's What's Your Net Worth?: Click Your Way to Wealth will be published in March to coincide with an eponymous PBS show, to be produced by the same folks who did Suze Orman's PBS special. Like Orman, Openshaw specializes in straightforward, nonpatronizing advice.
Given the ongoing trend of women buying investment books, it's no surprise that men have gotten into this lucrative market, too. One of the most popular is financial coach David Bach, whose Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dream has sold more than 250,000 copies since its 1998 release. A revised edition, coming next month from Broadway Books, will cover the new tax code and how to raise kids to be smart about money. (Another title dealing with the new tax laws, though not targeted solely to the female audience, is Ballantine's PricewaterhouseCoopers Guide to the New Tax Law by Richard Berry Jr. et al., released in October.)
Amacom's entry into the women's finance field offers a wealth of information for women who want to have it all--a job, kids and financial security. Vickie L. Bajtelsmit's The Busy Woman's Guide to Financial Freedom, out last month, includes financial dieting tips and worksheets for setting both short- and long-term goals. Along similar lines, credit expert Deborah McNaughton offers reassuring advice in Financially Secure (Thomas Nelson, Jan.).
Gen-X and Retirement
"Despite its being published on September 10, we've seen strong numbers for Get in the Game!: The Girls' Guide to Money and Investing by Vanessa Summers," says Bloomberg's Feldman. While many women's financial primers are geared to older women, the 30-year-old former stockbroker, fashion model and tennis player lobs her message straight at Generation X. And with its tongue-in-cheek title and hip cover art, it's clear that Wiley's Cash in the City: Affording Manolos, Martinis, and Manicures on a Working Girl's Salary by Juliette Fairley (Mar.) isn't your mother's investment guide. For those seeking happily married financial bliss, Carrie L. Martin and Evan M. Pattak provide plenty of tips in the Newlyweds' Guide to Investing & Personal Finance (Career Press, Jan.).
Prentice Hall Press recognizes the importance of multimedia in Gen-X lives by including a CD-ROM with Money Rules: Personal Finance Strategies for Your 20s and 30s by Juliette Fairley (Oct.). Readers can use the CD-ROM to test out various scenarios for buying a car or saving for retirement.
In the go-go '90s, when tech stock prices were going way way up, many investors thought about retiring in their late 20s or 30s. Now that the bubble has burst, as have many people's 401(k) plans, "The whole illusion of retiring at 35 has gone away," says Adams's Alexander. "Now it's not a sprint to retirement; it's a marathon." A lead spring title from Perseus addresses the problem that has arisen from putting all one's investing eggs in one retirement basket--The Great 401(k) Hoax: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family and Your Future by William Wolman and Anne Calamosca. "Bill and Anne aren't anti-investing," says Nick Philipson, executive editor, finance, who describes their message of investment diversity as "Don't trust your company and don't trust your government. It's up to you; so be smart and be conservative." In his May release, Take Control of Your 401(k): An Employee's Guide to Maximizing Your Investments (Dearborn), Profit-sharing/401(k) Council of America president David Wray advises caution.
Financial planner and broker Julie Stav also brings the retirement message to young and old alike in this month's Berkley release, Fund Your Future: Winning Strategies for Managing Your Mutual Funds and 401(k). A tie-in PBS special will air later this month, and a Spanish-language version of the show is in the works. Stav will appear at several of the PBS pledge drives, for which Berkley is donating books. The retirement message--along with prudent advice--is also delivered in the fourth edition of Retire Worry-Free by the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, out this month from Kiplinger Books.
Diversifying for Success
In today's market, says Dearborn Trade publisher Cynthia Zigmund, "people are not after the high double-digit growth. They want to know their money's safe and growing at a fairly steady pace." Like many publishers these days, Dearborn is diversifying its list. "We're publishing fewer tiles for the finance market in general. It's something that has been part of our strategic planning for the last five years. Even before the dot-com bubble burst, we felt we shouldn't be so reliant on one niche, investing." She credits the house's real estate titles for helping the bottom line, especially William Bronchick and Robert Dahlstrom's Flipping Properties: Generate Instant Cash Profits in Real Estate (July). "Of our top 10 titles, three are real estate investing books and Flipping is number two."
Prentice Hall associate publisher Ellen Coleman describes her company as "in sync with the trends, because we have some very basic books." Among the easy-to-follow titles she singles out are Ralph R. Roberts's Real Wealth by Investing in Real Estate (Dec.), and Value Investing with the Masters by Kirk Kazanjian (May). "Some people think of value stocks as cheap stocks," says Coleman, "but they are stocks that are going to go up. It's like going to the bargain basement at Filene's. If you know how to buy them, you can make a lot of money." Real estate investment trusts (REITs) is another investment area that has remained strong, according to Bloomberg's Feldman. "We think it's because it's an alternative to owning stocks." In April, Bloomberg will release a revised edition of its steady seller Investing in REITs by Ralph Block, which has gone back to press twice this year alone.
Some books on this general business topic take a more spiritual or inspirational approach. In October, Renaissance Books issued a collector's edition of Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, which has sold 25 million copies since it was first published in 1937--and which continues to resonate today. Suzan Hilton espouses feng shui for financial help in The Feng Shui of Abundance: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Attracting Wealth into Your Life (Broadway, Dec.), while Gillette Edmunds explores the emotional triggers at the root of investment losses--such as avoiding bonds because they're too safe--in Comfort Zone Investing: How to Tailor Your Portfolio for High Returns and Peace of Mind (Career Press, Mar.).
As these titles indicate, back-to-basics covers a broad area when it comes to personal finance. Perhaps that's because of an even larger trend that McGraw-Hill's Krames observes--"an individual investor revolution. Individual investors are becoming the heroes of our day. In the past two months, both the Dow and the Nasdaq are up 25% since the low of the week of September 17. I think you have millions of individual investors who are not panicking and not stuffing their money under the mattress." And those individuals are interested in just about everything. It's thanks to them that publishers can consider books on topics ranging from retirement to careers to real estate. And, who knows, come the spring when the business cycle will likely begin turning upwards again, maybe even day trading and tech stock will make a comeback. And once again, everything old will become new.