Books Jacket Copy

Bill Gates resurrects 45-year-old book 'Business Adventures'

Bill Gates helps bring his favorite business book back
45 years later, John Brooks' "Business Adventures" is available again -- thanks to Bill Gates

Bill Gates has performed quite a few feats of business magic in his day. Now he's performed a literary resurrection: He's lifted up one of his favorite books from that purgatory called "out of print."

John Brooks published "Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street" in 1969. It was a collection of his New Yorker articles, including a memorable piece on a famous copier company with one of the greatest headlines of all time: "Xerox, Xerox, Xerox, Xerox."

After being reprinted several times in the 1970s, "Business Adventures" dropped out of bookstores and backlists. In 1991, Warren Buffett recommended the book to Gates. This month, the billionaire founder of Microsoft took up the "Business Adventures" cause. Brooks' book was the subject of an article Gates wrote for his website GatesNotes, and for the Wall Street Journal last week.

"Today, more than two decades after Warren lent it to me — and more than four decades after it was first published — Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read," Gates wrote. "John Brooks is still my favorite business writer."

Before he wrote the piece, Gates' team tried to track down the publishing history of the book, to see if it could be put back in print, according to Quartz.

"It had been with the now-defunct publisher Weybright and Talley, then rights transferred to a publisher in England at some point," Max Nisen wrote in Quartz. "The New Yorker had the original columns, but it was hard to figure out who had the book rights."

Eventually, the Gates team reached out to Brooks’ family. (Brooks died in 1993). Last week, "Business Adventures" became available as an e-book for the first time from publisher Open Road. Now it's zoomed up the Amazon bestseller list, reaching No. 5 on Kindle sales.

A print version of "Business Adventures" will be available in September from Open Road.

"I think he was one of the first to consider business journalism as a sort of topic for just general popular readership," Alex Brooks told Quartz of his late father. "I think mostly before he came along business journalism was written for businessmen. The idea of telling business stories as just kind of entertaining pieces of reading was a real innovation."


You can follow Hector on Twitter as @TobarWriter.


Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Steve Martin joins 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' adaptation
    Steve Martin joins 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' adaptation

    The film adaptation of Ben Fountain's novel "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" has its first big star. Steve Martin will join debut actor Joe Alwyn, and possibly Garrett Hedlund, in Ang Lee's movie version of the Iraq war satire, Deadline reports.

  • T.C. Boyle, LeVar Burton lead L.A. Times Book Prizes
    T.C. Boyle, LeVar Burton lead L.A. Times Book Prizes

    The 35th annual L.A. Times Book Prizes are announced today. There are five finalists in 10 categories, and two prize winners were revealed: The Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented to author T.C. Boyle, and LeVar Burton will be honored with the Innovators Award for...

  • Maya Angelou postage stamp revealed
    Maya Angelou postage stamp revealed

    The U.S. Postal Service has revealed its Forever postage stamp featuring Maya Angelou, the poet and author widely known for her autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

  • Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lawrence to film Lynsey Addario's story
    Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lawrence to film Lynsey Addario's story

    Jennifer Lawrence, the Oscar-winning actress who stars as Katniss Everdeen in the "Hunger Games" films, will portray real-life photojournalist Lynsey Addario in a film based on her memoir "It's What I Do." Steven Spielberg will direct.

  • Kansas and the right to free expression
    Kansas and the right to free expression

    Last week, by a vote of 26-14, the Kansas Senate passed SB 56, a bill that amends the state’s existing public morals law by striking an exemption that protects teachers from prosecution for exposing students to "harmful material."

  • Ursula K. Le Guin slams new Kazuo Ishiguro novel
    Ursula K. Le Guin slams new Kazuo Ishiguro novel

    Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel "The Buried Giant" has so far garnered mixed reactions from critics, with some praising the author for his foray into fantasy, and others finding the result "misbegotten." In a blog post published yesterday, fantasy legend Ursula K. Le Guin left little doubt...