Remember the predictions about how the growing use of computers and machine-readable text would reduce the amount of paper we would use in business and at home? That forecast turned out to be only partly true–witness the rise in e-mail and instant messaging and text messaging and the decline of the old-fashioned handwritten letter. It was also partly way off base, as a glance at the top of my desk shows me and as the struggle to build paperless offices shows advisors (though yes, some have done so successfully). Moreover, despite a rise in popularity of e-books and PDFs and recorded books on tape and CD, in the U.S. alone there are still nearly 5,000 trade magazines in print. Moreover, old-fashioned book publishing is still quite in fashion. R.R. Bowker, the authority in book publishing, reported that in 2004, there were 195,000 books published–that’s new titles and new editions–with 5,226 falling into the “business books” category, including personal and corporate finance. When asked to compare those numbers to past years, a Bowker spokesman told me that in 1995, 113,589 books were published in the U.S., with 4,891 of them covering business.
The Economist magazine estimates that eight to 10 million books that could broadly be defined as “business” books are sold here each year. Take Jim Collins’s Good to Great, which has sold nearly two million copies and has remained firmly entrenched on The New York Times bestseller list for years.
If the books read by advisors and the speakers that pepper conference agendas is any indication–and it is–there’s a never-ending thirst out there for learning how to build successful businesses and market yourself.