About the book
A collection of letters written by Gary C. Halbert from Boron Prison to his son, Bond. The letters are ‘lessons’ to Bond, intended for later revision and publishing. The lessons are on copywriting and direct marketing.
The book contains a total of 25 letters, each followed by a brief analysis by Bond Halbert.
I came across this title while listening to Tim Ferris’s podcast with Benitago group founders, which you can find here. The two young men were enthusiastic about the book, and since they are the ones making heaps of money, not me, I decided to give it a read.
Who is this book for
I’ll list the audiences out:
- Direct sales and direct marketing newbies
- Entry level advertising copywriters
- Seasoned but bored copywriters
- Anybody looking to read something a little different to the usual literature
The best bits
Gary’s personality comes across as ever so interesting and the book’s effect is entertaining. As a side note, I’ve worked in marketing for over a decade now and this was the first time I’ve heard about this self-styled legend man, so don’t feel bad if you had no clue who he is either. I had to google him and he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page so maybe he’s not really a legend, just a funny guy who had some good ideas in his time.
The book contains a couple of nuggets of useful knowledge around some of the bigger historic direct marketing/catalogue sales campaigns which I might not otherwise have heard of. Some tips on reusing good ideas, market testing and the basics of a good sales letter are also included, alas these can be freely found online if you are interested in the topic.
The letters all are written in a familiar, friendly tone making them pleasant to get through.
The worst bits
For a book claiming to be a copywriter’s manual, there were few too many typos in it.
I personally enjoyed the book, but the knowledge it contains has been publicised and regurgitated by many an ‘expert’ by now making the book less valuable as a resource and reducing it to merely a somewhat entertaining read.
Format – wise, the book is optimised for digital delivery and not for print. I purchased a print to reduce my own screen time and Amazon duly printed it for me, pixelated cover and dodgy fonts all intact. If you do opt for a hard copy, just be warned it’s not cute.
Is it worth reading?
The book teaches you how to take an old trick and make it better. Cleverly so, the book’s format is an old trick and the style it is written in makes it better, so much better than many other letter-to-you books I have read over the years. The rubbish format in which Amazon sent it to me is now almost a good joke to me – which is what makes all great stories so easy to remember.
Would I recommend paying the full price? Never – go find the letters online!