The great copywriters and advertising specialists of today stand on the shoulders of giants that came before them. Harry Allen, Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Maxwell Sackheim, John Caples, Rosser Reeves, and Elmer Wheeler are some names that come to mind, and there are many others. Scientific Advertising, My Life in Advertising, Ogilvy on Advertising…fascinating books, all of them. These classic advertising and copywriting books have much to teach us.

In the early days of advertising, the then-new battleground of direct mail marketing allowed these advertising specialists to test, refine, and perfect their advertising approaches. They were held accountable for every penny spent, and every result was tracked. As a result, these early pioneers learned, bit by bit but with great precision, exactly what worked and what didn’t.

The legacy they have left behind for modern copywriters to study is priceless. Even though times and communication methods have changed, the underlying human behavior is still very much the same. Like a trout rising to a fly, the consumer of today is just as likely to respond to a well-crafted offer as the consumer of decades past. Thanks to these classic writings, we can study what has been proven to work, and get a fascinating glimpse into the historical background of advertising and copywriting.

The classic copywriting books listed below just a few of the many available, but they are some of the best. You’ll also want to check out the Copywriting Resources section for free classic resources that are now in the public domain.

Learn from the Masters of Copywriting

2,239 Tested Secrets For Direct Marketing Success : The Pros Tell You Their Time-Proven Secrets
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Packed with insider secrets, rules, and wisdom from nearly 200 of the leading authorities on direct marketing, this is the essential tool for techniques that produce results. Experts Denny Hatch and Don Jackson cover all you need to know–from planning to implementation–and from target strategy to all aspects of the creative process.

Every discipline–from brain surgery to auto making to marketing–is based on the work of those who have gone before. You study their tests, capitalize on their successes, and learn from their failures. In short, every art, science, and industry has a set of canons, caveats, codes, constants, considerations, codicils, constraints, criteria, and customs that have been developed over time.

And so it is with direct marketing. To listen to some self-appointed marketing gurus who have recently “discovered” the discipline, you would think direct marketing is relatively new to the marketing scene. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Aside from the fact that direct marketing is more than 400 years old (the first book catalogs were printed in Venice in the 1500s), it has been a hallmark of 20th-century commerce because it is the one knowable way of building a business. Direct marketing is the business of acquiring customers and donors and getting to know them–keeping track of their transactions and then continuing to delight them by serving their current needs, creating new wants, and, above all, persuading them to act . . . to respond to a proposition.

Despite its long and profitable history, no one has assembled a single collection of all the basic secrets (or rules) of direct marketing. Until now. In these pages Denny Hatch and Don Jackson blitz you with the secrets, rules, and wisdom of nearly 200 of the great masters: from Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, and Max Sackheim to Jay Abraham, Dick Benson, Malcolm Decker, Bob Doscher, John J. Fleider, Jerry Gould, Bob Hacker, Dick Hodgson, Cecil Hoge Sr., Bill Jayme, Ted Kikoler, Jim Kobs, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Malcolm McCluskey, Don Nicholas, J. Peterman, Max Ross, Jim Rutz, Emily Soell, Lew Smith, Bob Stone, Joan Throckmorton, and John Yeck.

So . . . what is this book’s proposition? Simply that you can have, at your fingertips, the individual and collective wisdom of the greatest practitioners of this century about: Creative, Copy, Math, Space Ads, Direct Mail, Production, Management, Strategy, Lists, Testing, Offers, Fulfillment, Back-End Operations, Lead Generation, and (of course!) much, much more!

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Confessions of an Advertising Man
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A new edition of the timeless business classic featured on Mad Men—as fresh and relevant now as the day it was written

“We admire people who work hard, who are objective and thorough. We detest office politicians, toadies, bullies, and pompous asses. We abhor ruthlessness. The way up our ladder is open to everybody. In promoting people to top jobs, we are influenced as much by their character as anything else.”  —David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy was considered the “father of advertising” and a creative genius by many of the biggest global brands. First published in 1963, this seminal book revolutionized the world of advertising and became a bible for the 1960s ad generation. It also became an international bestseller, translated into 14 languages. Fizzing with Ogilvy’s pioneering ideas and inspirational philosophy, it covers not only advertising, but also people management, corporate ethics, and office politics, and forms an essential blueprint for good practice in business.

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How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling
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Description: A business classic endorsed by Dale Carnegie, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling is for anyone whose job it is to sell. Whether you are selling houses or mutual funds, advertisements or ideas—or anything else—this book is for you.

When Frank Bettger was twenty-nine he was a failed insurance salesman. By the time he was forty he owned a country estate and could have retired. What are the selling secrets that turned Bettger’s life around from defeat to unparalleled success and fame as one of the highest paid salesmen in America?

The answer is inside How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Bettger reveals his personal experiences and explains the foolproof principles that he developed and perfected. He shares instructive anecdotes and step-by-step guidelines on how to develop the style, spirit, and presence of a winning salesperson. No matter what you sell, you will be more efficient and profitable—and more valuable to your company—when you apply Bettger’s keen insights on:

• The power of enthusiasm
• How to conquer fear
• The key word for turning a skeptical client into an enthusiastic buyer
• The quickest way to win confidence
• Seven golden rules for closing a sale
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Making Ads Pay: Timeless Tips for Successful Copywriting (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science)
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Why does one ad succeed, while another fails? This classic by a veteran copywriter analyzes hundreds of profitable ads, offering many side-by-side comparisons between similar but not equally effective ads. These analyses yield principles, procedures, tips, and practical suggestions — each tested with decades of experience — that can be immediately applied to every medium and style of advertising.
During his six-decade career at the top advertising firm of BBDO (Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn), author John Caples pioneered the techniques of effective copy-testing. All copywriters, from cub to chief, can benefit from his helpful suggestions. “This is a valuable textbook for every student of advertising and every writer of ads,” declared the Christian Science Monitor, and Booklist pronounced it “of interest to anyone interested in what makes our business economy work.”

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My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising (Advertising Age Classics Library)
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Description: Gain a lifetime of experience from the inventor of test marketing and coupon sampling — Claude C. Hopkins. Here, you’ll get two landmark works in one, and discover his fixed principles and basic fundamentals that still prevail today.
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Ogilvy on Advertising
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Description: A candid and indispensable primer on all aspects of advertising from the man Time has called “the most sought after wizard in the business.”

Told with brutal candor and prodigal generosity, David Ogilvy reveals:

• How to get a job in advertising
• How to choose an agency for your product
• The secrets behind advertising that works
• How to write successful copy—and get people to read it
• Eighteen miracles of research
• What advertising can do for charities

And much, much more.

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Robert Collier's The Secret of the Ages: A modern-day interpretation of a self-help classic (Infinite Success)
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Description: After overcoming an illness by what he believed to be subliminal means, Robert Collier became fascinated with the power of the mind and how it may be used to create success in every area of life. Collier believed that one’s subconscious mind is like a sleeping giant; once awoken it can bring fame, fortune and happiness. He set to work on a series of psychology texts and The Secret of the Ages, released in 1926, was the first to explore this theory. In this book, Collier plots the course his readers need to follow in order to achieve their ultimate goals. The book proved fantastically popular and sold over 300,000 copies. Many of his insights are still relevant today. Karen McCreadie’s interpretation of The Secret of the Ages illustrates the timeless nature of Collier’s theories. Bringing the book to life through 52 modern case studies, this brilliant interpretation of The Secret of the Ages is an entertaining and thought-provoking accompaniment to one of the most famous books on self help ever written.
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Sizzlemanship: New Tested Selling Sentences
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Description: Sizzlemanship is the name that Elmer Wheeler has given to his unique method of “Sizzle Selling,” first introduced to the American public in his now famous book, “Tested Sentences That Sell.” Sizzlemanship is now re-published so everyone can benefit from one of America’s greatest salesman.
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Tested Sentences That Sell: How To Use
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Description: In this groundbreaking marketing classic, discover the easiest way to double your selling power overnight using tested selling sentences. Plus, learn how to uncover the most-persuasive benefits hidden in everything you sell, the secret to selling more without saying more, which hypnotic word literally forces people to say “Yes!,” the “X, Y, Z” principle of selling (and what it means to you), one simple word that overcomes almost any objection, the difference between making a “canned” sales presentation and a “planned” presentation and why the best message in the world will fall flat on its face if you don’t use the Wheeler “A-B Principle.” Don’t leave your selling up to chance or theory. Discover how you can use these time-tested and proven principles to boost sales regardless if you do business online or offline. These methods work for everyone from executives who want to sell more products to job-seekers who need to stand out from the pack.
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Tested Advertising Methods (5th Edition) (Prentice Hall Business Classics)
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Description: The fifth edition of this work on how to create successful advertising features new coverage on small businesses with limited revenues, non-profit advertising, as well as techniques of headlines, illustrations and layouts. There is also new information useful to smaller businesses.
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The Robert Collier Letter Book
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Description: THIS IS AN AUTHENTIC WORK DISTRIBUTED BY THE FAMILY OF ROBERT COLLIER. BE SURE THE NEW TRADEMARK RC LOGO WITH “AUTHENTIC ROBERT COLLIER WORK” APPEARS ON THE COVER. The Robert Collier Letter Book is under copyright with Robert Collier Publications, the family of Robert Collier, the author. Other publishers are distributing similar versions that may not be true and accurate. Robert Collier cared deeply about the quality of content, presentation, artwork, etc. that went into every single book he wrote and published. The Robert Collier Letter Book is for the business man who already knows the theory of letter writing but is looking for more effective says of putting it into practice. It shows successful ways of selling all manner of products through proper advertising.
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The Seven Lost Secrets of Success: Million Dollar Ideas of Bruce Barton, America's Forgotten Genius
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Description: Praise for The Seven Lost Secretsof Success

“Buy this book, apply these secrets, and your prosperity will be assured.”
-Dan McComas, President, Dan McComas Associates,
Marketing & Management Consultants

“This breakthrough book, based on the ideas of a forgotten genius, will help smart marketers increase their effectiveness a minimum of fivefold.”
-Bruce David, publisher of Starting Smart

“The principles are sound and sensible and guaranteed to help any businessperson make more money. Since 99.9 percent of businesses don’t use them, anyone putting the seven lost secrets to work will gain an unbelievable edge over the competition.”
-Bob Bly, author of eighteen business books, including Selling
Your Services

“One of the most revealing works ever-I literally couldn’t put it down. There are life and business success lessons in each chapter.”
-Jim Chandler, President, VistaTron

“Barton was the messiah of business who helped America pull out of the Great Depression. Now he can help all of us survive the current recession.”
-Scott Hammaker, CEO, Nashville Party Connection

“An excellent guide to better advertising, better promotions, and better marketing. My copywriting abilities and creative strategies have been strengthened and broadened. I’m awed and inspired.”
-Tina Nokes, owner, A-Plus Resume Service

“A passionate book on the timeless, inspiring, perceptive, forceful, and sincere ideas of Bruce Barton-a man nobody really knew, a genius lost in history.”
-Jim King, CPA, Houston

“These proven principles are the foundation upon which to build a prosperous enterprise.”
-Mark Weisser, CEO, Gulf Coast Security Systems

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