Last week, Nora Ephron's mordant take on aging, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Knopf), returned to PW's bestseller list after three weeks off, marking the book's 38th week on the list since its publication almost a year ago. According to Nielsen BookScan, it has sold 642,000 copies. Another book for readers of a certain age, 2004's Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge (Workman) was so successful—126,000 copies, says BookScan—it spawned a version for women and a journal. Even a book on makeup for the 50+ set—Bobbi Brown Living Beauty by cosmetics guru Bobbi Brown (Springboard)—has sold a respectable 34,000 copies, perhaps due to its author's hearty embrace of middle age and her advice on minimizing problems particular to middle-aged women, like sunspots and baggy eyes.

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine estimates that the anti-aging industry pulls in $56 billion a year now—and that number could swell to $79 billion by 2009. And as the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 confront aging and its discontents, book publishers are joining the ranks of beauty companies, drug manufacturers and health industry professionals who say they can help boomers. Some of the books take a blatantly surface approach, the narrative equivalents of eye cream and Botox injections. Others are more concerned with what's inside, pointing readers toward physical tuneups for the golden years. Whatever their tack, the books are fulfilling a need. Says Free Press editorial director Dominick Anfuso, “Boomers' interest in health is probably higher than any other generation's has been.”

Your Inner 25-Year-Old

“There are a lot of anti-aging books out there,” says Little, Brown executive editor Tracy Behar, whose UltraLongevity: The Seven-Step Program for a Younger, Healthier You by Mark Liponis, M.D., goes on sale in September. Behar says she has frequently received proposals for books on the subject over the past five years, but she was drawn to Liponis's book because of what she considers its uncommonly well-researched premise that aging is an auto-immune disease. That, and the fact that Liponis is the corporate medical director of one of boomers' favorite spa destinations, Canyon Ranch, which has resorts in Arizona, Massachusetts and Florida—giving him the all-important platform to boost sales.

UltraLongevity isn't the only science-based anti-aging tome being released this fall; in September, indie press Williams Clark will publish Longevity Made Simple: How to Add 20 Good Years to Your Life by Richard J. Flanigan, M.D., and Kate Flanigan Sawyer, M.D., M.P.H. With a foreword by American Journal of Cardiology editor-in-chief William C. Roberts, the book is based on the authors' clinical experience and published scientific findings. In November, Avery will release The Natural Superwoman: The Scientifically Backed Program for Feeling Great, Looking Younger, and Enjoying Amazing Energy at Any Age by Beverly Hills physician Uzzi Reiss and his daughter Yfat Reiss. And in December, McGraw-Hill will join the fray, with The Science of Staying Young by John Morley, M.D., and Sheri Colberg, which presents four key factors for looking and feeling young.

Those titles will face heavyweights Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz in November, when the bestselling health authors publish their third book in the You series, after 2005's You: The Owner's Manual and 2006's You: On a Diet. Going on sale November 6 is You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual to Extending Your Warranty, with a 1.5-million—copy first printing. Anfuso, of Free Press, says the book is not about Botox; rather it's “an anti-aging book for the rest of us.” The publisher received lots of positive feedback about the book at BEA, and “booksellers and even people at other publishers think it's going to be bigger than the diet book, which is contrary to conventional publishing wisdom.” Anfuso says Diet sold close to two million copies in hardcover.

Surface Fixes

“Light a candle, take a bath, chant a mantra, try yoga, celebrate your wrinkles and age gracefully. I have so many books that say messages like that. I tried all that stuff, and it doesn't work.” So says women's magazine vet Charla Krupp, whose answer to those New Age takes on anti-aging was to write How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better—a book targeted at many of the women who embraced the likewise bluntly titled French Women Don't Get Fat. The January 2008 publication from Springboard Press (a Hachette imprint) advises women to lighten their hair, shorten their skirts, whiten their teeth and “learn to love shapewear.” Krupp is hardly demure when she talks about aging: “Women cannot let themselves go,” she says, citing the imperative need to retain a youthful look, especially if women want to keep their jobs.

Those women might also take a look at Forever Cool: How to Achieve Ageless, Youthful, and Modern Personal Style by Sherrie Mathieson, which Clarkson Potter is publishing in October. Initially published by a small press last year, the book—written by a professional costume designer—garnered widespread media attention from USA Today and dozens of regional newspapers. Now Random's putting its corporate muscle behind it, and the author is working on a sequel.

But what about those pesky wrinkles? The March 1, 2007, New York Times article “Is Looking Your Age Now Taboo?” noted that only about one million Americans regularly have cosmetic facial injections, but that the mere availability of the procedures has heightened the pressure on women to consider a level of intervention that until recently was embraced only by the famous or the rich. Although they pose little threat to the Botox industry, some publishers are bringing out books targeting those who may not be able to afford cosmetic facial injections. In September, Crown will publish Stop Aging, Start Living: The Revolutionary 2-Week pH Diet That Erases Wrinkles, Beautifies Skin, and Makes You Feel Fantastic by Jeannette Graf and Alisa Bowman. And in November, bestselling dermatologist Nicholas Perricone—who has his own line of skin-care products—returns with Ageless Face, Ageless Mind: Erase Wrinkles and Rejuvenate the Brain (Ballantine).

If all else fails, women can exercise their way to younger-looking skin. That's the premise of the just-released book The Beautiful Skin Workout: Eight Weeks to the Smoothest, Healthiest Skin of Your Life by Michelle Copeland and Megan Deem (St. Martin's Griffin) and The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift by Annelise Hagen (Avery, Aug.)—which will have to compete with Conari Press's recent The Yoga Facelift by Marie-Véronique Nadeau.

Aging: Who Needs It?

Finally, there are the anti—anti-aging books. One is a Little, Brown September memoir by Anne Kreamer, a former executive v-p at Nickelodeon who is married to the writer Kurt Andersen. Going Gray: What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity and Everything Else That Really Matters began as a feature in More magazine about Kreamer's decision to stop coloring her hair and “embrace the natural look.” The before-and-after photos of Kreamer certainly make a strong case for quitting the hair-coloring cycle; the gray-haired author looks hipper, classier and much more sure of herself than her mousy brunette former self.

And if the processes described in Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Biotechnologies That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime (St. Martin's, Sept.) are as close to becoming a reality as authors Aubrey de Grey and Michael Rae say they are, the entire industry could be kaput. Be careful what you wish for...