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."