My Favorite Old School Direct Marketing Books

Here’s a short list of my favorite “Old School” Direct Marketing books.

They include books on Advertising, Direct Marketing, and even Copywriting.

And most of them were written decades ago by a bunch of “Old Geezers”, including several that were written in the 1920s.

Some of you may be wondering why an Internet Marketer would even care about these “Old Geezer” books when all of them use old school print ads and direct mail pieces as examples and case studies (which really were the only choice when these books were written as far back as the 1920s).

The answer is quite simple:

There’s a reason why the most successful Internet Marketers I know, including myself, are lifelong students of Direct Marketing, that’s because…

Internet Marketing IS Direct Marketing.

And these books were written by the Masters of Direct Marketing!

I’ve been enjoying these books for so long that I’ve had to buy new copies of them repeatedly over the years because I either lost my copies, wore them out, or someone borrowed a copy and never returned it.

The good news is that most of these “Old School” books can be found at any online bookstore like for less than twenty bucks.

Here’s a short list of my favorite “Old School” Direct Marketing books:

1.  How To Make Your Advertising Make Money by John Caples

2.  Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

3.  My Life In Advertising by Claude Hopkins

4.  Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

5.  The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier

6.  How To Write A Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab

7.  Billion Dollar Marketing by Maxwell Sackheim (compilation)

8.  The 100 Greatest Advertisements 1852-1958: Who Wrote Them and What They Did by Julian Watkins

9.  Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz

Just added:

10.  Making Ads Pay: Timeless Tips for Successful Copywriting by John Caples

(The next two haven’t been around as long as the others, and started out geared towards Mail Order, but have evolved over the years and I consider them modern day classics even though their “online” marketing methods may be a little outdated)

11. Direct Marketing: Strategy, Planning, Execution by Edward Nash

12. Successful Direct Marketing Methods by Bob Stone

These 12 books are more than enough to get you started and to help you start an “Old School” Direct Marketing reference library of your own.

I own hundreds of other books, and I can’t honestly say that I’ve read every single page of every single “Old School” book I own, because I haven’t.

However, I can honestly say that I keep these books and dozens of others just like them next to my desk and I refer to them for inspiration whenever I need to write headlines, ads, or sales copy of any kind.

These books are pure gold and I hope you enjoy them!

And before I forget…

Here’s the bestlearn how to write great copy” training program out there.

Jeff Johnson


Here’s a few tips on how to save hundreds of dollars, even thousands of dollars when building your very own “Old School” Direct Marketing Reference Library:

  • Some of these books are in the “public domain” which means anyone has the right to publish them and charge whatever they’d like. So before you buy the first copy you see… search around and find the best deal. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find alternative copies for pennies on the dollar.


  • Don’t forget to check and even ebay for used copies in great condition; you can save a bundle on each book that way.


  • Since some of these books are in the “public domain” you may be able to find free PDF copies of them on the Internet that are perfectly legal copies for you to own.


  • Amazon has dozens of these types of “Old School” books in their Kindle store, and they either give them away for free, or they charge as little as 99 cents (even when they also sell print book versions of the same book for $20 or more). So be sure to check for Kindle versions as well.


  • Dozens of these types of books are actually out of print and are almost impossible to find so you may see copies of them selling for hundreds of dollars on Amazon or ebay. But don’t buy the first copy you find, be sure to search around using some of the tips I offered above.

Here’s an example of how you could save up to $403.05on a “Print/Book on Demand’ copy of Breakthrough Advertising by shopping around:

Breakthrough Advertising Eugene M. Schwartz

You could save $403.05 on Breakthrough Advertising Eugene M. Schwartz just by shopping around.










  • My favorite online bookstore, by far, is They are pretty much a “one stop shop” for these types of books… New, used, hard to find, out of print, print on demand and even Kindle copies. So I suggest you make your life easy by starting your search at


  • My final and most important tip is… once you buy these books… Read Them!

They are jam-packed with great ideas and proven swipe copy, including… Headlines, Full Page Magazine Ads, Direct Mail Sales Letters, Classified Ads, and thousands upon thousands of tested, proven ways to make more money with your Direct Marketing.

Remember… Internet Marketing IS Direct Marketing.

And every successful Internet Marketer I know, especially the ones that stick around for the long run, is a lifelong student of Direct Marketing!

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34 Responses to “My Favorite Old School Direct Marketing Books”

  1. James King 22. Sep, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    I had all of the top 9 books except 1. And just bought the one I didn’t have from Amazon for $9 (The 100 Greatest Advertisements 1852-1958).

    Thanks for the resources

    • Jeff Johnson 22. Sep, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      I love those old ads, classics for a reason!

  2. Nir Sever 22. Sep, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    thanks man 🙂

    • Jeff Johnson 22. Sep, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      You’re welcome, enjoy the books!

  3. Armando Ortega 22. Sep, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Have them all, except BILLION DOLLAR MKTG by Sackheim.
    Have to study them again.
    I lost Tested Advertising Methods
    and Breakthrough Advertising.

    • Jeff Johnson 22. Sep, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      I just bought new copies of tested and breakthrough and then found my old editions about 2 days later.

      Keeping some of these books at home, some at the office and a few out to lend really makes it tough to keep track of them 🙂

  4. Fred Beers 22. Sep, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    awesome. i need to get ahold some of those. swartz has been a mind blower for me. collier letters are amazing. thanks jj. see too many times imers acting like this stuff is all new. nah. basically the same direct marketing methodology thats been working for decades. wasnt it john caples who called it salesmanship in print?

    • Jeff Johnson 22. Sep, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoy them as much as I do!

      I’ve seen books that pre-dated Caples that used the phrase, or at least the idea of salesmanship in print but I’m not sure who originated it.

      But it’s true regardless of who said it first 🙂

      • Fred Beers 22. Sep, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

        just fyi that i found out… not sure about any of the others but. schwartz’ “breakthrough…” has sold for pretty near $1000 a copy before. and its woth it. was out of print for a long while. i looked for this book for like 10 years.

        • Jeff Johnson 23. Sep, 2012 at 8:24 am #

          Even now they are asking between $65 and $177 for a used copy. Sure is fun to find a bargain on it when you can 🙂

  5. Josè Scafarelli 23. Sep, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Good books, good tips… a big thank you from Italy, Jeff! 🙂

    • Jeff Johnson 23. Sep, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      We were Italy visiting my wife’s family a few years ago, great memories!

  6. Ian Taher 23. Sep, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Hi Mr. John

    Great info about direct marketing, The list above sound less familiar for me, except Maxwell Sackheim. Thank you for listing, gotta check it one by one.



    • Jeff Johnson 23. Sep, 2012 at 2:54 pm #


  7. David Tomen 23. Sep, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Great list Jeff and thanks for the reminder. Joe Vitale and MJ turned me onto most of these when I was doing Mark’s email marketing. If there’s any young ‘uns reading this post I hope they take it to heart. Like Jeff said, if you’re stuck for a headline or subject line all you have to do is reach for one of these.

    Thanks again Jeff,


    • Jeff Johnson 24. Sep, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      Your comment just reminded me.. I forgot to mention they are great for PPC ads as well, thanks!

  8. jeremy hermid 24. Sep, 2012 at 10:34 am #


    I am a student of James Paul and he broke down Gitomer, Ziglar, and mainly Hopkins. He is also a MAJOR proponent of mindset and he feels all of his success comes from 2 books, while the other books just reinforce or give him a solid “calvary” of tools and tactics. “The Power of Positive Thinking” and “The Power Of Positive Imagry”. You could never tell by looking at him he makes normally the higher end of 6 figures monthly and he hates the Warrior Forum.
    I read the book you mentioned by Ed Nash and I can agree with you it is stellar.
    I think when I come up with my list it’ll have to include “Constant Content: The Google Gift”. Not a classic yet, however it’s transformed my results coupled with your teachings on YouTube not only was I able to quit my job – I left the person who kept you down. So I thank you and I thank James Paul for pointing me your way. He has nothing but high regards for you and it’s easy to see why.
    “Implement theory in your own way and create the demand”

    • Jeff Johnson 24. Sep, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      I definitely believe in the power of positive thinking and have read those books by NVP (and gave copies to my wife years ago)… But the power of positive thought by itself isn’t enough, people have to actually take action to make things happen and I’m glad to see that you are taking that action, congratulations!

      I’ve never heard of constent content but i’ll be sure to check it out and thank James for sending you my way.

      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Sean 07. Oct, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Great list, Jeff!

    I’m familiar with several of these — have read the two Hopkins books cover-to-cover twice — while others are completely new to me and are on the way thanks to you and

    As you said, IM is DM and I try to read everything I can that can help keep the creativity flowing… I never get paid as much as when I write, and writing well starts with reading a lot!

    Thanks for sharing,


  10. Cesar Ramirez 08. Oct, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Amazing content Jeff. Isn’t it cool that we can take and rehash stuff that worked 50 years ago in today’s online world?

    • Jeff Johnson 09. Oct, 2012 at 7:03 am #

      The funny thing is that what worked thousands of years ago works today… online is simply a new channel for our marketing messages. Thank goodness Al Gore invented the internet 😉

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