Direct Response Copywriter on What You Can Learn from a Bookstore

Who would have thought?

Film cameras using real film are becoming more popular. Vinyl records are making a comeback because the sound quality is better than digital. People are buying cassette tapes. Independent bookstores are thriving.

Even in this digital age, “old school” treats are alive and well. I was recently in New York City and visited one of the city’s literary institutions, Strand Bookstore. It has three (or four?) floors of new books, used books, gifts, records, and other stuff. It’s one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in Manhattan. I also like to visit my local independent bookstore here in Colorado.

So … what can a direct response copywriter learn from a bookstore? A lot but I want to focus for now on the most important lesson, which is looking at book titles.

There’s an irony here: book publishers are typically terrible at marketing books. But they are off-the-charts epic when it comes to titles. Go figure. I'm not talking about novels and similar books. I want you to focus on the non-fiction side.

Gary Bencivenga tells direct response copywriters to look closely at book titles for inspiration when it comes to headlines.

Let’s take a look at some currently popular titles.


The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Blast the Sugar Out!: Lower Blood Sugar, Lose Weight, Live Better

I Will Teach You to Be Rich

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age


You could easily spend at least an hour looking up book titles to get inspiration for headlines. All the headlines above are totally based on direct response copywriting headline templates. I bought one of those books based on the title. The actual book itself was terrible. But the title … sorry, headline … drew me in.

So next time you’re in a bookstore, or scanning a list of bestsellers, notice the title of the book.


I'm a direct response copywriter working for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.