The Aleph Blog » Blog Archive » On Overstated Book Titles

On Overstated Book Titles

I have a problem with book titles.  They are often inflated far beyond what the book actually states or proves.   I have a few in my hands now, and it burns me, because the books in and of themselves are good, but they don’t reflect the title.  The title makes grandiose claims, and then there is not enough in the book to back them up.

I will review in the next few days, The Secret Club That Runs The World.  Great book with a lousy title.  Sensationalistic, and I bet the marketers at the publisher created the title.  Why do I think this?

I have a lot of respect for Larry Swedroe, but I trashed what was a good book in my review of Think, Act, and Invest Like Warren Buffett.  Honestly, I wish I had approached Larry first, before posting my review, because the title was not his idea, but that of the publisher.  The original title “Playing the Winner’s Game” would have gotten a five-star review from me.

And yet, I am coming to realize that publishers, manipulate people through titles.  Make them sensational.  Make them offer a solution to an impossible problem through a title, and the book does not deliver.  Really it stinks.

But here’s my specific problem: when I write a negative review (usually 3-star) of a good book that overstates in its title, I tend to get a large number of negative votes at Amazon.

To use a term from Cramer, book publishers are in the OPUD game [Over-promise, Under-deliver].  That works for a while, but eventually it dulls people from buying books.  Far better to borrow it from the library, even via Inter-library loan, than pay up for a book where title promises aren’t delivered.

To publishers: honesty is a basic objective of publishing; do not destroy your franchise by creating deceptive book titles.

To the public: look at the books before you buy them, and do not buy books that overstate what they actually deliver.

Book reviews, Ethics | RSS 2.0 |

3 Responses to On Overstated Book Titles

  1. […] David Merkel on publishers and their horrendously misleading financial book titles (that’s why I choose my own).  (AlephBlog) […]

  2. frankl says:

    I have found that there are many free books on the internet from previous times. They are not current best-sellers or the books that everyone is talking about. I read in order to stimulate my mind and be alive to the prejudices/shortcuts/assumptions inherent in our lives. Books written a long time ago reflect the “package” from their era, and that helps highlight ours, almost like intellectual sculpture. I have not read any business books from history, but since investing is as much about oneself, one’s views as compared to the crowd, this kind of stimulation is of some import. Project Gutenberg has provided many such books to me for free. Something to consider.

  3. […] Why do book publishers continue to play fast and loose with book titles?  (Aleph Blog) […]


David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.

Also, though David runs Aleph Investments, LLC, this blog is not a part of that business. This blog exists to educate investors, and give something back. It is not intended as advertisement for Aleph Investments; David is not soliciting business through it. When David, or a client of David's has an interest in a security mentioned, full disclosure will be given, as has been past practice for all that David does on the web. Disclosure is the breakfast of champions.

Additionally, David may occasionally write about accounting, actuarial, insurance, and tax topics, but nothing written here, at RealMoney, or anywhere else is meant to be formal "advice" in those areas. Consult a reputable professional in those areas to get personal, tailored advice that meets the specialized needs that David can have no knowledge of.

 Subscribe in a reader

 Subscribe in a reader (comments)

Subscribe to RSS Feed

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Seeking Alpha Certified

Top markets blogs award

The Aleph Blog

Top markets blogs Bull, Boards & Blogs

Blog Directory - Blogged

IStockAnalyst supporter

All Economists Contributor

Business Finance Blogs
OnToplist is optimized by SEO
Add blog to our blog directory.

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin