As goes the stock market, so goes the personal finance and investing books category. Logic dictates that when the market is soaring and there's money to be made, investors are willing to spend on books, but when opportunities are limited, they pull back.

So, how do publishers of personal finance and investing books rate the current market? It's complex, says Portfolio editorial director Jeffrey A. Krames. "While the Dow and the S&P continue to make historic new highs, the NASDAQ remains at less than half of its all-time high. This means that some investors have gotten rich while others have lost their shirts," he explains. "As a result, many investors are more cautious and book buyers have become more cynical."

On the up side, Krames continues, it's easier to get in the game. "Today's online investor has literally thousands of tools that they can access for free on the Internet that simply did not exist a decade ago. In addition, an investor today can purchase, say, 1,000 shares of Starbucks and pay a commission that is less than the price of a single movie ticket at a Manhattan theater."

Amacom executive editor Jacqueline Flynn, too, sees opportunity in all the fluctuation. "It's become a cliché to say that times are changing, but for today's investor this couldn't be more true. Forever everyone has been preaching 'buy and hold' and 'asset allocation,' but these approaches are not giving investors the returns they want in this market," she says. "For more than mediocre results, investors need to roll up their proverbial shirtsleeves and put in some time researching investments and then have to monitor them more closely." The result is a need for guidance—much of it sought from books.

Below are 10 contenders for the attention of investors of all types. All promise to fatten your bank account—though none are offering a money-back guarantee.

Title: Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich

Author: James J. Cramer

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Dec., $25)

First printing: 400,000

Dollars and sense: Investment show Mad Money with Jim Cramer airs three times a day on CNBC; a large portion of the host's audience is likely to turn out for his book as well. But v-p and senior editor Bob Bender says it's more than a mere tie-in, offering "valuable advice that goes well beyond the context of the television show." (Cramer's book lands today on PW's bestseller list.)

Title: Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny

Author: Suze Orman

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Feb., $24.95)

First printing: 300,000

Dollars and sense:Women & Money is Orman's first book with Spiegel & Grau, but her last five titles have all made the New York Times bestseller list. She's also won two Emmy Awards for PBS programming based on her books and hosts her own weekly show on CNBC. Publisher Julie Grau says, "There is a line early in the book that just stopped me cold: 'Why is it that women who are so competent in all other areas of their life cannot find the same competence when it comes to matters of money?' Suze's investigation of what created this problem and what perpetuates it is really original and captivating."

Title: The Only Three Questions That Count: Investing by Knowing What Others Don't

Author: Ken Fisher with Jennifer Chou and Lara Hoffmans

Publisher: Wiley (Dec., $27.95)

First printing: 150,000

Dollars and sense: Knowledge is power, argues the Forbes columnist and Fisher Investments CEO, and most of what the average investor knows is bull. Publisher Joan O'Neil says, "This book helps investors see through the commonly held investment assumptions that are, in fact, wrong." In the foreword, fellow author James J. Cramer (see above) writes, "I believe that reading [this] book may be the single best thing you could do this year to make yourself a better investor" (and jokes, "My agent's going to kill me"). O'Neil concludes, "I couldn't have said it better."

Title: Do This, Get Rich: 12 Things You Can Do Now to Gain Financial Freedom

Author: Jim Britt

Publisher: Square One (Mar., $25.95)

First printing: 50,000

Dollars and sense: It's all about attitude. Says publisher Rudy Shur, "This book is designed for the person who has made the decision to become wealthy and is ready to follow through with that commitment." The author, a motivational speaker and self-made millionaire, provides tips for shedding "the middle income attitude" and facing the fear of success.

Title: Money Can Buy Happiness: Learn How to Spend to Get the Life You Want

Author: MP Dunleavey

Publisher: Broadway (May, $18.95)

First printing: 20,000

Dollars and sense: In a twist on the old adage, New York Times finance columnist Dunleavey argues that money can buy happiness, if only we spend it on the things we really want. "The message goes against conventional wisdom," admits editor Rebecca Cole, but she adds that ultimately the author is "showing readers that quality of life is more important than the bottom line."

Title: Financial Bliss: A Couple's Guide to Merging Money Styles and Building a Rich Life Together

Author: Bambi Holzer

Publisher: Amacom (Jan., $21.95)

First printing: 17,500

Dollars and sense: Financial planning is just as important as family planning—maybe more so—in determining a couple's happiness. "We've heard many times that money is the number one source of conflict in relationships," points out executive editor Jacqueline Flynn. "Bambi Holzer gives readers specific strategies for determining each person's money style and then crafting a financial approach that embraces both styles."

Title: Financial Armageddon: Protecting Your Future from Four Impending Catastrophes

Author: Michael J. Panzner

Publisher: Kaplan (Mar., $25)

First printing: 15,000

Dollars and sense: With 25 years in the financial industry under his belt, Panzner is part Cassandra and part Boy Scout: he foresees a financial collapse in the near future, and he explains how to be prepared. Associate development editor Joshua Martino says, "This book offers advice to live by—really to survive by—after the crash in order to preserve wealth and protect your family."

Title: Detox Your Finances: Earn More, Spend Less, and Make Your Money Work as Hard as You Do

Author: John Middleton

Publisher: Perigee (Jan., $15.95 paper)

First printing: 10,000

Dollars and sense: One of six titles in the launch of Perigee's "52 Brilliant Ideas" series, this title breaks financial advice into bite-sized and easily digestible bits, such as "Don't max your tax." Senior editor Marian Lizzi, the acquiring editor for the series, says, "This book delivers essential advice with a lighthearted, upbeat tone and even a sense of humor, which is a breath of fresh air on the personal-finance shelf."

Title: The Big Investment Lie: What Your Financial Advisor Doesn't Want You to Know

Author: Michael Edesess

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler (Jan., $24.95)

First printing: 5,000—10,000

Dollars and sense: An insider reveals the seamy underside of the financial advisory industry. Senior managing editor Jeevan Sivasubramaniam says, "This exposé is not written by a journalist or third party, but an insider in the investment advice industry who saw firsthand how this economic institution gets millions of investors to throw their money away on advice that is worthless and fraudulent (and tells investors what to do instead)."

Title: The Last Link: Closing the Gap That Is Sabotaging Your Business

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (Mar., $21.95)

First printing: 40,000

Author: Gregg Crawford

Dollars and sense: Executive v-p Meg La Borde Phenix says, "The Last Link is special for two reasons: The marketing power will propel it onto the bestseller lists, and the content will produce word-of-mouth sales." A $300,000 marketing campaign includes a "bag drop" of more than 100,000 blads at registers in Hudson News stores in airports. Content highlights include what the author calls "the 3D model" (that's data, dialogue and discipline) and metrics for measuring success. Says La Borde Phenix, "It zeroes in on the link of the chain that determines whether or not a strategy results in better numbers."

Retire Rich
Ten Speed Press, publisher of the all-time bestselling career guide (with more than nine million copies in print) What Color Is Your Parachute?, is guiding readers into the next phase in life with What Color Is Your Parachute? For Retirementby Richard Nelson Bolles and John E. Nelson, due out in May. Publisher Lorena Jones says, "Instead of instructing how to retire from something, this book shows us how to retire to something. Planning for retirement has always been framed as a financial process, but the authors reframe retirement from a psychological perspective, de-programming a now-outdated cultural message that retirement is about the pursuit of leisure."

Jim Boyd, executive editor of Financial Times Press, agrees that a new breed of retirement books is long overdue. "Too many books give advice that is delivered in a way that's comparable to telling people to be careful crossing the street. But they don't explain the meaning of a green light or red light or how to watch for them, so people get it wrong and make mistakes," he says. In March, Financial Times (a Prentice-Hall imprint) will offer an alternative, with a 10,000-copy first printing of Saving for Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery by Gail MarksJarvis. MarksJarvis is a personal finance columnist for Gannett and based her book on more than 20,000 e-mails and calls from readers.

Yet another alternative is proposed by PBS finance expert Jonathan D. Pond in You Can Do It!: The Boomer's Guide to a Great Retirement(Collins, Dec.), which eschews doomsday scenarios about the retirement of baby boomers to posit that boomers are actually more prepared for their golden years than the generation that came before them. Editor Ethan Friedman says, "Jonathan Pond's contrarian advice sets him apart as the only personal finance expert with a truly positive, can-do message."—N.D.

The Millionaires' Club

Who wants to be a millionaire? Plenty of folks, to judge by the number—and success—of books that promise to bring readers into that exclusive club.

Loral Langemeier's The Millionaire Maker's Guide to Wealth Cycle Investing,published by McGraw-Hill this month, has already hit bestseller lists in the Wall Street Journal, USA Todayand the New York Times(business hardcover list), with 85,000 copies in print. Publisher of business books Herb Schaffner says Langemeier's followup to The Millionaire Maker(2005) "delivers eye-opening information on nontraditional investments." The prolific Langemeier has another title, on entrepreneurship, coming from McGraw-Hill in June.

Langemeier's busy seminar schedule serves her books well. Standing on an equally solid platform (comprised of an ABC radio show, appearances on Oprahand Good Morning Americaand a stint as AOL's family financial editor) is Jennifer Openshaw, whose The Millionaire Zone(Hyperion, Apr.) will enjoy a 75,000-copy first printing. Executive editor Gretchen Young says, "Jennifer's 'no fear wealth' approach to making the first million sets her apart. She explains how to use resources already at your fingertips to your advantage."

In The Last Chance Millionaire: It's Not Too Late to Become Wealthy(Warner Business, June), author Douglas R. Andrew (whose January 2005 effort, Missed Fortune 101, has almost 200,000 copies in print) offers advice that may surprise—namely, according to Warner Business editorial director Rick Wolff, that "pre-paying one's mortgage, or filling up your 401k may be detrimental to your finances when the time comes to retire." The house is looking to Rich Dad, Poor Dad,which spent more than 300 weeks on the New York Timesbestseller list after its 2000 publication, as a model.

Author Kim Lavine aims to show how mothers can be millionaires in Mommy Millionaire: How I Turned My Kitchen Table Idea into a Million Dollars and How You Can, Too!(St. Martin's, Feb.) Lavine (who founded Green Daisy, a maker of hot/cold therapy pillows) will travel to 12 cities to offer seminars in support of a 75,000-copy first printing. Editor Jennifer Weis says, "Kim speaks to people in a realistic way, and she's willing to share all of the secrets that she learned the hard way—including the stuff no one wants to admit."—N.D.

Latte Leverage

As Michael Moe reports in Finding the Next Starbucks: How to Identify and Invest in the Hot Stocks of Tomorrow(Portfolio, Jan.), $1 invested in Starbucks stock when it went public in 1992 would today be worth $56. From that jumping-off point, Moe, formerly director of global growth stock research at Merrill Lynch and today co-founder, chairman and CEO of ThinkEquity Partners, looks at dozens of other successful stocks and what they have in common. Portfolio is counting on jacket blurbs from the likes of Fidelity Investments vice-chairman Peter Lynch and Milken Institute chairman Michael Milken to support the 25,000 first printing.

Moe is looking forward, but Wall Street Journalreporter and editor Karen Blumenthal takes a look back in Grande Expectations: A Year in the Life of Starbucks' Stock,an April Crown Business title that tracks the coffee company's progress throughout 2005. Executive editor John Mahaney says, "What's unique about Grande Expectations is that it's a character-driven narrative about investing. Karen Blumenthal became a fly on the wall as she examined how the managers of big investment funds, stock analysts, traders, private hedge funds, short sellers, members of investment clubs and Starbucks managers affect the increases and decreases in the price of the stock. While the book is not a traditional 'how-to,' we've aimed it at the average investor, and the outcome is a much stronger understanding of key factors of investing." You may never look at that venti latte the same way again. —N.D.