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Breakthrough Advertising: How to Write Ads That Shatter Traditions and Sales Records Hardcover – 1 Jun 1984

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Boardroom Classics (Jun. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0932648541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0932648549
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
One of a kind. The best book out there on copywriting. Must be read several times in order to understand much of it. Nothing is missing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews
158 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Express Train to Marketing Mastery 26 May 2004
By David Garfinkel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's late May 2004 and I'm preparing the final teleseminar for a new copywriting program I'm putting together. As I searched my brain for what to recommend to my students for further study, one book kept coming up: this one.
It takes a lot of sophistication and direct-marketing experience to appreciate the real genius of Gene Schwartz. Don't kid yourself - this book isn't easy. I know easy, because that's what I specialize in.
However, Mastery is not easy. On the other hand, information that will lead you to Mastery in marketing - especially, mastery in copywriting - is rare to the point of being almost non-existent.
But this book contains exactly that information.
Who should get this book? Let's start with who shouldn't. If you want run-of-the-mill yet valuable, money-making information about copywriting, get books by John Caples and by all means, get Vic Schwab's "How to Write a Good Advertisement." They're available on Amazon.
If you want to learn about branding, grand strategies and other B-school versions of marketing, forget this book. It's not for you.
The person who should get this book is the person who would like to create a million-dollar business with an idea, a product, or a division of an existing business. There is simply no other resource that will show you how to do that with marketing.
I recently spent some extremely valuable time with a corporate consultant who bills at $25,000 a day to help companies dominate markets and create new ones. I don't know if he's ever read "Breakthrough Advertising," but I can say that his level of thinking indicates he _owns_ the material in this book.
The re-publisher of "Breakthrough Advertising," according to Schwartz, hired Schwartz to write a sales letter that started his business. Rumor has it that the re-publisher's business now takes in a nine-figure income every year.
What's my point? That Gene Schartz has DONE what I am saying this book can do for you. In this book, you should be warned, he makes distinctions that, frankly, are beyond the understanding level of most business people, even most smart entrepreneurs.
So if you get this book, it's not a handy reference or a quick read. Not if you're going to get anything out of it, that is.
This book is a commitment.
And if you can't understand what's in it when you first get it, there's no need for despair. Because the path of Mastery is about growth of vision, skill and capacity through repetition of basics, ideally under the tutelage of a mentor who is also a Master.
Meaning, read it several times. Take notes. Ponder. Tinker. Look for examples. Try the ideas. Then go back to it again.
Gene Schwartz, I'm sad to say, is no longer with us on this Earth. But he and his wisdom live on in this book.
He can be the mentor who will guide you to your next level of business achievement.
64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic for serious copywriters 27 Oct. 2005
By Ken McCarthy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a rock solid, if challenging, book about writing ad copy from one of the best copywriters who ever lived. It is NOT an easy read so if you're looking to be entertained by a 'personality,' look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if you want to dig deep into the subject of copywriting and go beyond the 'paint-by-numbers,' training wheels approach that's so widely taught these days, this is a good book to work with.

And 'work with' is the way to look at it.

This book is so packed, one chapter could easily give you enough things to think about for a year.

By the way, there is absolutely nothing dated in this book.

Calling this book dated is like saying Claude Hopkins is dated because he used examples from the turn of the century or that John Caples is dated because he used example from the 30s and 40s.

You don't buy books like these for their examples. You buy them for what a highly experienced and successful ad writer has to say about his craft. That being said, this book will probably be too much for readers who want everything 'quick and easy' and need to be entertained.
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated, But Still Relevant, Copywriting Guide 9 April 2004
By James Sadler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First, this book is not as rare as claimed. There is a new edition currently available which can be found elsewhere on Amazon, although it is, in my opinion, grossly overpriced. And, as I will explain, there are other ways to get a copy of it besides spending nearly 100 of your hard earned dollars. I hate to pass on buying a book, but the publisher is just nuts selling it for nearly $100.00.
Eugene Schwartz is one of copywriting and advertising's legends. His story is well known among copywriters: He started in mail order as a delivery boy in 1949 and became a junior copywriter before the end of that year. By 1951, he was a copy chief and became the president of his own mail order firm in 1954. He skills as a copywriter led him to become one of advertising's highest paid consultants (Rodale Press once paid him a commission of $54,000 for four hours work).
This book is considered by many to be a classic on copywriting in general and mail order copywriting in particular. It is also legendarily reputed to be the "most stolen" book from public libraries and it is claimed that there are only 130 copies to be found in the world. I'm not sure about that claim as my local library came up with a 1966 copy with no problem and the librarian indicated that other copies were available from other libraries. She also had never heard of it as being the "most stolen" book in public libraries.
This is the most recently published edition and it appears to have been published, in part, because of the reputed difficult of finding copies. The price of $95.00 would seem to reflect a pent-up demand for it (more on that later).
"Breakthrough Advertising" is excellent in its analysis of advertising and the marketplace. Schwartz was an advocate of the idea that advertising could not create demand but it could channel it to a certain product. He referred to demand as "Mass Desire" and believed that there had to be some level of desire before a product could be offered and sold profitably. An example he uses is that of weight loss. There is a huge mass desire to lose weight and, as a consequence, a demand for weight loss products. The job of the copywriter, according to Schwartz, is to tap into that demand and channel it to the particular product the copywriter is selling.
Schwartz continues throughout the book to analyze the make-up of a good advertisement, focusing heavily on the headline as being the make-or-break item of any good advertisement. He then continues in a discussion and analysis of the body of an advertisement as well as giving his opinion on some aspects of layout. He admittedly doesn't spend much time on the subject of layout, but his discussion of layout is quite revelatory.
Schwartz's work isn't necessarily a great revelation today. Most other books I have read on the subject of advertising and copywriting recognize many of the same principles he discusses. In fact, you can read on everything he touches upon in other more modern, and cheaper, sources. That being said, the book is still a worthwhile read. Schwartz has an engaging writing style and he does a great job of breaking his chapters down into subtopics and subheadings (a direct mail technique he obviously is employing in his book). Anyone with an interest in copywriting and advertising should take the time to read and learn from Schwartz. You will no doubt learn something about the craft of copywriting that you previously were unaware of.
Now as to the price of the current edition, if you are like I normally am and just have to have a book on your shelf, you might want to go ahead and buy it. I personally found the price prohibitive and did not purchase it. Instead, I checked the library's copy out and took a lot of notes. I would love to add this book to my library, but not at a cost of $95.00. I really think someone is gouging those with any interest in Schwartz's work at that price, but I guess there are more than enough individuals willing to that price for them to offer it at $95.00.
The price seems even more prohibitive given the fact that most of the information is available from other sources and the fact that the writing is somewhat dated.
77 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, but Dated, Ad Guide by One of the Masters 19 Mar. 2004
By James Sadler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Eugene Schwartz is one of copywriting and advertising's legends. His story is well known among copywriters: He started in mail order as a delivery boy in 1949 and became a junior copywriter before the end of that year. By 1951, he was a copy chief and became the president of his own mail order firm in 1954. He skills as a copywriter led him to become one of advertising's highest paid consultants (Rodale Press once paid him a commission of $54,000 for four hours work).
This book is considered by many to be a classic on copywriting in general and mail order copywriting in particular. It is also legendarily reputed to be the "most stolen" book from public libraries and it is claimed that there are only 130 copies to be found in the world. I'm not sure about that claim as my local library came up with a 1966 copy with no problem and the librarian indicated that other copies were available from other libraries. She also had never heard of it as being the "most stolen" book in public libraries.
This is the most recently published edition and it appears to have been published, in part, because of the reputed difficult of finding copies. The price of $95.00 would seem to reflect a pent-up demand for it (more on that later).
"Breakthrough Advertising" is excellent in its analysis of advertising and the marketplace. Schwartz was an advocate of the idea that advertising could not create demand but it could channel it to a certain product. He referred to demand as "Mass Desire" and believed that there had to be some level of desire before a product could be offered and sold profitably. An example he uses is that of weight loss. There is a huge mass desire to lose weight and, as a consequence, a demand for weight loss products. The job of the copywriter, according to Schwartz, is to tap into that demand and channel it to the particular product the copywriter is selling.
Schwartz continues throughout the book to analyze the make-up of a good advertisement, focusing heavily on the headline as being the make-or-break item of any good advertisement. He then continues in a discussion and analysis of the body of an advertisement as well as giving his opinion on some aspects of layout. He admittedly doesn't spend much time on the subject of layout, but his discussion of layout is quite revelatory.
Schwartz's work isn't necessarily a great revelation today. Most other books I have read on the subject of advertising and copywriting recognize many of the same principles he discusses. In fact, you can read on everything he touches upon in other more modern, and cheaper, sources. That being said, the book is still a worthwhile read. Schwartz has an engaging writing style and he does a great job of breaking his chapters down into subtopics and subheadings (a direct mail technique he obviously is employing in his book). Anyone with an interest in copywriting and advertising should take the time to read and learn from Schwartz. You will no doubt learn something about the craft of copywriting that you previously were unaware of.
Now as to the price of the current edition, if you are like I normally am and just have to have a book on your shelf, you might want to go ahead and buy it. I personally found the price prohibitive and did not purchase it. Instead, I checked the library's copy out and took a lot of notes. I would love to add this book to my library, but not at a cost of $95.00. I really think someone is gouging those with any interest in Schwartz's work at that price, but I guess there are more than enough individuals willing to that price for them to offer it at $95.00.
The price seems even more prohibitive given the fact that most of the information is available from other sources and the fact that the writing is somewhat dated.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Serious Copywriter Should Own this Incredible Book 19 July 2006
By Susanna Hutcheson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Eugene Schwartz was a great copywriter. He understood copywriting. He knew that it was salesmanship in print. In this book Schwartz gives us his method of constructing an ad (he calls all copy ads) and he explains who our market really is. He tells us that our ad is directed to a group of people who have one main desire or need.

This is a great book. It's odd that many of the books that sold only a few thousand copies in their day, such as this one, now are in high demand. This is especially true of copywriting books. It seems that everyone thinks he or she can either become a copywriter or at the very least write copy for his own advertising by simply reading a book! I don't think so. Hey --- I've been at it 40 years and I'm still learning.

This is not a book for the person looking for a quick fix. If you're not a serious copywriter, don't buy this book. Only a copywriter can really understand it. If you're an entrepreneur looking for some basic knowledge, buy Bob Bly's latest books. His are the books for the novice. They're good. They're easy to read. They're easy to understand. And Bob is a great copywriter.

But if you are a copywriter and want to read a great book, you must buy this. Is it worth the money? Oh yes. If you're a copywriter it is. If you're not a copywriter, save your money.

This book is not dated. In fact, one could almost feel he's reading a book written today. I applied some of what I read to one of my Web sites and it really works. Gene wrote long copy and many sites are nothing more than long copy. For those sites, this book is a find for the copywriter who writes them. Fact is, I prefer it to the books on the market directed to copywriters who write web copy.

Some of the books we read today are nothing more than recycled stuff. Here we read the real thing. Some authors today will tell you that people are not motivated by the same things as before. Not so. Since the cave man and until the end of time people will be motivated by love, sex, hate, greed, envy, jealousy and all the other emotions that have held us hostage since the beginning of time.

It may be true that people buy differently. It may be true that they don't respond exactly as they used to because of their multi-tasking and other things. But we sell to the same motivators that we've always sold to.

This book will never go out of fashion. It will never be dated.

This is a book you'll want to read once and then read again with a highlighter. You'll probably want to read it yearly. There are a number of old books that I read once a year and refer to often. There's a real market in everything old because, fact is, they had it right and it still applies today. Why fix it if it ain't broke?

Buy the book. It will make you a better copywriter. Tell your prospective clients to buy it too. Why? Because when they get two or three chapters read they'll see how hard it is to be a copywriter and they'll hire you.
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