Business Books Get A Boost

The current wave of accounting scandals, and its damaging impact on the stock market, has boosted sales for a handful of business books.

"Good to Great," an advice book by Jim Collins that advocates a disciplined corporate culture, went back to print five times in July and now has sold 426,000 copies since being published last fall. "Conquer the Crash: You Can Survive and Prosper in a Deflationary Depression," by Robert R. Prechter, Jr., is now in its fifth printing since its June release and has 100,000 copies in print.

"I guess this is good luck or bad luck, depending on your viewpoint. 'Conquer the Crash' must seem real to a lot of people," said Jeffrey Brown, vice president and general manager for the business imprint of John Wiley & Sons, which published Prechter's book.

Other books selling well include Larry Bossidy's "Execution," which also advocates corporate discipline, and Charles P. Kindleberger's "Manias, Panics and Crashes," first published in 1978 but appearing at No. 7 on Amazon.com's best-seller list as of Tuesday.

Anticipation is strong this fall for "Take on the Street," an investment guide by former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. The book has a first printing of 150,000.

Few new deals have been reached. HarperCollins on Monday announced it had paid at least six figures for a book by Vanity Fair contributing editor Nina Munk about the struggles of AOL Time Warner Inc., now under investigation by the SEC for possible accounting violations.

Otherwise, publishers have been cautious.

"Nothing has caught our eye," said Steve Ross, editorial director of Crown Publishing, which released "Execution."

"We're on a different cycle than a newspaper or a magazine and we have to ask whether this will still be a story a year from now," Ross said.

"This is the thing about the book business. You have to look beyond the headlines," said Marion Maneker, editorial director of HarperCollins' business imprint. "You try to find a book you can sell, no matter the news climate. You always want the story to be something in its own right."

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