Brian Kurtz’s Top 15 Copywriting Books

Brian Kurtz, executive vice president of Boardroom Inc., and keynote presenter at Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk 2014.

Where can you go for the best tips on direct response copywriting? Brian Kurtz, executive vice president of Boardroom Inc., rattled off a lot of good advice during his keynote presentation, “Dinosaurs & Cowboys: Direct Marketing Secrets Every Marketer Needs to Know Whether You Are Selling Online, Offline or Both.” One of the points he covered was a list of best, most enlightening books of copywriting.
We didn’t have a slide for that list, though, and many audience members asked to see the list so they could check the books out. Here is that list, Brian Kurtz’s top picks for copywriting tips, along with links for more information on each of them.


  1. Scientific Advertising & My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins
  2. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples
  3. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
  4. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  5. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
  6. How to Write a Good Advertisement by Vic Schwab
  7. The System Club Letters by Ken McCarthy
  8. Cash Copy by Jeffrey Lant
  9. Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
  10. The Magic Words That Bring You Riches by Ted Nicholas
  11. The Secret to Selling Anything by Harry Browne
  12. Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy
  13. How to Write Sales Letters That Sell by Drayton Bird
  14. Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier
  15. Write Everything Right by Denny Hatch

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.
Related Content
  • Robert Bly

    Brian, you cad — not the copywriter’s handbook, which Ogilvy said every copywriter, including himself, should read? Seriously?

  • Paul Ramirez

    Nothing by Bob Bly? This is an INCOMPLETE list!

  • Lisa Castonguay Evans

    Brian! You are brilliant, as always. SO good to hear your voice/see your smiling face (if only online)! Thanks for sharing your knowledge–again! You are amazing!!

  • Brian Kurtz

    Being called a cad by Bob Bly certainly is the low point of my day…sorry for the omission…I was rattling off a list quickly and it’s all Thorin’s fault for putting me on the spot! :-). (Just kidding, Thorin).

    Bob’s Copywriter’s Handbook was an obvious omission. It belongs on the list, right near the top.

    And while I’m at it, two others I wished I mentioned: Sugarman on Triggers and Michael Masterson "Ready Fire Aim." Hope I headed the two of them off at the pass from calling me out as well!

    And don’t forget Bencivenga’s Bullets…and his "Bencivenga 100" event DVD’s might be the best video of all time.

    Sorry again Bob!

  • Scott Martin

    Solid list, Brian, and thanks for sharing. Going through Breakthrough Advertising for the umpteenth time. Dense but worth it.

  • Jay Stevens-stoler

    How can Denny Hatch and Jeffery Lant make the top 15 list and not Bob Bly? You may want to recalculate.