When I would walk through the crowded aisles of a local book store, the crowd would always dissipate as I reached the self-help section of the book. The self-help genre would begin with spirituality and morph into psychology and motivation, before reaching the get rich quick titles and more sensible variants of the personal finance book category.
It’s a logical way to arrange these contrasting book types, and this logic reveals the secret of a successful personal finance book: it’s eminently readable.
Economics and accounting books don’t appear to need the attention of potential buyers. They sit on their shelves, intimidatingly thick and with little on the cover to even catch the eye of a passer buy. “I have the goods, and eventually someone will want it”, is the stance of these academic titles.
Personal finance books, on the other hand, sit next to extremely eye-popping and shouty covers such as ‘I will make you thin’ and ‘How to be the boss of everything’. It could be difficult for a humble book about saving money to stand out, but publishers have responded.
Consider ‘How to own the world’ by Andrew Craig, or ‘Total Money Makeover’ by US author Dave Ramsey. These are titles designed to excite and suggest the possibility of a new level of control over ones personal finances that wouldn’t be possible without the secrets with the covers. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases which helps to support this site by the way.
In stepping up their marketing game, personal finance books are capturing the attention of bookshop visitors and holding their own. But something else is afoot.
Authors have identified that a huge market for money guides is the teens and 20-somethings. In years gone by, these young adults would be diligently saving up for a house deposit and eagerly awaiting their first home.
But now, with the average price of a home in the UK costing seven times the median salary; hopes for a house purchase have been pushed back to the next decade. Forced to rent, this unfortunate generation finds themselves paying their landlords much of the cash they wish they could tuck away for their own house. In London, where rent and house prices are at their highest, rent payments can be often half of someone’s income. This gives Londoners an uphill battle in saving anything at all for a house deposit.
In response, authors have begun writing new titles for young people that reflect this new reality. Gone are the expectations of a house by 25; these titles accept and acknowledge the financial difficulties faced by young people today.
In doing so, these authors are carving up a slice of the personal finance book readership by speaking to the problems in the minds of those perusing the bookshelves in shops or online.