How much do I want to read more? 3/10
Critics against self-help movement are much welcome, as we may get tired of endless praises.
Two of them, rather obvious, are:
1/ If the self-help book worked, the people wouldn't need to buy another one on that same specific subject.
2/ The only benefit of self-help book goes to the author themselves.
Sadly, the book doesn't dig much deeper. Why self-help psychology would help some people, and not some others? You'll have to figure it out by yourself.
Today he’s the Eighty Million Dollar Man (per year)
Back at the beginning of his career, customers were paying as little as $50 apiece to learn how to “focus” enough to be able to walk over hot coals pain free.
By the mid-1990s the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager had become a huge draw on the banquet circuit, commanding at least $30,000 an hour for imparting such philosophical gems as “Ya gotta want it!”
THE PECOS RIVER LEARNING CENTER
At Pecos River, otherwise rational corporate citizens fully expected to buttress their self-confidence and negotiating skills by falling backward off walls and sliding down the side of a mountain on a tether.
In 1998 I covered one of the barnstorming impresario’s weekend-long success-fests for the Wall Street Journal. I guesstimated the two-day take at $1.4 million, plus ancillaries. We’ll get to the ancillaries in a moment.
People read what interests them; a devoted Civil War buff is going to buy every hot new book that comes out on the Civil War. Pet lovers read endlessly about pets.
One would not expect people to need further help from us—at least not in that same problem area, and certainly not time and time again. At some point, people would make the suggested changes, and those changes would “take.”
Worse yet, our marketing meetings made clear that we counted on our faithful core of malcontents.
SHAM’s answer when its methods fail? You need more of it.
Our buyers were more likely to be losers at love—hapless fumblers for whom our books conjured a fantasy world in which they could imagine themselves as ladies’ men, smoothly making use of the romantic approaches and sexual techniques we described. Failure and stagnation, thus, were central to our ongoing business model.
PAYING THE (PIED) PIPERS
Today, self-improvement in all its forms constitutes an $8.56 billion business, up from $5.7 billion in 2000. Marketdata now expects the industry to be perched at the $12 billion threshold by 2008.
Between thirty-five hundred and four thousand new self-help books appeared in 2003
a study quoted in American Health magazine said that self-help addicts—and addict, evidence suggests, is the right word—continue to buy books “long after their shelves are stocked.”
“Self-help books are a Teflon category for many booksellers. No matter the economy or current events, the demand is constant.”
What has America gotten in return for its $8.56 billion investment?
There’s only one group of people we can prove benefit from the books: the authors themselves.
At this moment, across America, millions of hopeful Erics and Ericas are repeating those words in various forms, dutifully droning their affirmations each morning, telling themselves that what they’re saying and doing is bound to make life better, richer, fuller, less scary. And how, exactly, will this wondrous transformation happen? What is the mechanism, the link between their self-talk and the course their lives may take?
Part one - THE CULPRITS
Two genuinely historic works flowered from the spiritual dust bowl of the Depression, and in the same year, no less: 1937 saw the publication of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which many still consider the quintessential self-help book. For sheer longevity, it’s hard to argue. On a September day some sixty-six years after its publication, How to Win Friends still came in at number ninety-nine in Amazon.com’s sales rankings. Sales haven’t been hurt by the book’s prominence in Dale Carnegie Courses taught by an army of twenty-seven hundred facilitators worldwide. Corporate trainers will tell you that the book is as relevant today as it was in 1937. Another landmark self-help tract in the Carnegie mold was Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, published in 1952.