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3 Must-Read Copywriting Books

Author: Ryan Healy   |   July 29th, 2011

One of the best ways to learn the craft of copywriting is to read and study classic advertising literature.

The classics are affordable, accessible, and packed with wisdom. And when you buy them, you won’t be …

added to an email list or tempted to buy any expensive upsells.

With that in mind, here are three must-read classic copywriting books for the eager student.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

This slim volume is an excellent primer on the purpose of advertising copy and how to write it. Because it is one of the earliest advertising books ever written, it is essential reading for the student of copywriting.

It is rumored that marketing genius Jay Abraham read the book 50 times. David Ogilvy said that no person should have anything to do with advertising before reading it. High praise, indeed.

Fortunately, Scientific Advertising is in the public domain, so it is easy to obtain. There are inexpensive copies for sale on Amazon. And you can find a free PDF of it fairly easily by searching Google.

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

Breakthrough Advertising is a unique book because of its approach. While most copywriting books start right away by teaching you how to write copy, this book teaches you about prospects and markets.

In the first three chapters, you learn about a prospect’s state of awareness and how that affects your copy. And you learn about market sophistication, which also shapes the copy you write.

No other advertising or copywriting book covers this material. But I consider it vital knowledge for anybody trying to sell through the written word. (While the book is still in print, expect to pay $50 to $100 to get a copy of Breakthrough Advertising.)

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joseph Sugarman

While Hopkins and Schwartz made careers out of writing copy for clients, Joe Sugarman made a career of writing copy for himself. That is, he wrote ads to sell his own products.

One of the things I like about Sugarman’s book is how it guides you through the ad writing process from start to finish. In a way, it’s almost like a copywriting course — but in a book format.

Sugarman also includes reprints of space ads he wrote that performed well. These ads are useful illustrations of the principles and techniques he teaches. You should be able to get Advertising Secrets of the Written Word on Amazon or other online booksellers for $20 to $40.

More Top Copywriting Books

Naturally, once you’ve gone through these copywriting books, you may be interested in reading more. I’ve put together a list of the best copywriting books and organized them into categories: Classics, Rare Books, Modern Books, Memoirs, and Reference Books.

If you’re interested in viewing or bookmarking this complete list, please visit my Best Copywriting Books lens on Squidoo. Thanks.

-Ryan Healy


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