HOW TO SELL YOUR BUSINESS WITHOUT A BROKER & SAVE BIG COMMISSION DOLLARS by David P. Francis (John Wiley & Sons: $59.95)

To amend Calvin Coolidge's famous dictum, the business of America, especially in Southern California, is small business. Trump trickles down: We all would like to be our own boss.

Which explains why a publisher would see a market for a book such as "How to Sell Your Business Without a Broker & Save Big Commission Dollars." When it's time for the owner of the metal-plating shop or the travel agency to cash in his or her chips, why not spend $60 on this exceedingly slender volume (only 66 pages of text; the rest of it is a reproduction of all the blank forms one needs to sell), rather than the thousands of dollars the author says that brokers charge?

All of that is perfect marketing theory, but its practical execution is as depressing a treatise on American business as can be imagined. In Francis' world, the owners of small businesses are incapable of even the simplest negotiations, and so lacking in knowledge that he must explain how to prepare a cash- flow chart and a pro forma profit-and-loss statement, two chores one would imagine any businessman to have mastered.

The book is the entrepreneurial equivalent of programs to instruct already-pregnant teen-age girls in reproduction and sexuality--you wonder how they were allowed to get that old, and reproductively ready, without learning what sex was all about.

One has to wonder whether, if Francis' assumptions are true, the small businessman is adequate to even the most rudimentary forms of commerce. It's hard to believe that someone backward enough to profit from Francis' book could start, or run, a business worth selling. Perhaps he's trying to create a market, a demand, where one doesn't quite exist.

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