Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hard Times Brings Boom in Personal Finance Books

We've seen the stock-market plunge, the foreclosures surge, the layoffs and the bankruptcies mount. Now comes the inevitable next stage of the economic downturn: a rash of personal-finance books that promise to help readers navigate their way through the rubble -- and even to prosper amid it.

To some observers, it's the surest sign yet that the worst is over.

In other respects, the actual usefulness of many of these books may be less than advertised. Some of the authors offer few specific tips, while others are substantially altering the advice they've served up in the recent past.

Financial gurus whose past books have highlighted low-money-down home-buying strategies and exotic mortgages are now stressing 20% down payments and standard fixed-rate loans. Market prognosticators are revising earlier bullish forecasts to fit the more-somber market mood. Other authors are packaging investment fundamentals into books that promise to help readers beat the current financial crisis.

Just a year or so ago, the personal-finance bookshelf was a happy-go-lucky place where everybody and their neighbor was about to become a millionaire. Now it's more like a bomb shelter stocked with canned goods for a long battle. Pugilistic titles like "Fight for Your Money" and "Gimme My Money Back" are pushing aside sunnier fare like "Millionaire by Thirty" and "You Can Do It!: The Boomer's Guide to a Great Retirement." At Amazon.com Inc., the top-selling business book in mid-January was "Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound." At the same time last year, the top seller was "Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat."http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123240626360895629.html

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