Reading List: 30 Books That Will Help Increase Sales

Reading List: 30 Books That Will Help Increase Sales


These books are perfect for entrepreneurs. They cover a broad spectrum of topics and will provide you with an encyclopaedic amount of knowledge that will help you build your business and sell more.

This is my personal reading list for 2013 and I plan on reading each one by the end of the year. These books cover subjects like marketing, SEO, social media, branding, analytics, content strategy, design, web usability, behavioral economics, and even psychology. 

You'll notice that I've included a link to buy each book. All of the money earned from Amazon's affiliate program will go to Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture that supports entrepreneurs in developing countries. 

What are you reading this year? Let me know in the comments!

30 Books for Entrepreneurs

Predictably Irrational

Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.

Behavioral Economics For Dummies

Morris Altman

The field of behavioral economics sheds light on the many subtle and not-so-subtle factors that contribute to our financial and purchasing choices. In this book readers will learn how social and psychological factors, such as instinctual behavior patterns, social pressure, and mental framing, can dramatically affect our day-to-day decision-making and financial choices.

All Marketers Are Liars

Seth Godin

Telling an authentic story about your company, your products, and your purpose is the secret to great marketing whether you’re selling wine glasses or sports carts. Seth Godin teaches by example, showing why every business needs to start telling stories.

Content Rules

Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

Content or entertainment marketing is the idea of offering potential customers real and valuable articles, video, or similar in order to build brand loyalty. Although service businesses typically favor this approach, content marketing is still very important for ecommerce entrepreneurs.

Optimize: How to Attract & Engage More Customers 

Lee Odden

Online retailers need to boost visibility and relevance if they are to engage customers and increase sales. Odden describes how to achieve just this sort of goal with integrated marketing including SEO, social media, and content marketing.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR

David Meerman Scott

The Internet has changed marketing and opened new opportunities to connect with potential customers. This forward-thinking book can launch a business’ integrated digital marketing and PR strategy.

Managing Content Marketing

Robert Rose & Joe Pulizzi

Rose and Pulizzi describe specifically how marketers can use all forms of content (blog, Facebook, guest posting, and more) to build a stronger brand and reach out to customers.

Return on Influence

Mark Schaefer

Schaefer guides readers to setting goals and measuring success, demonstrating that influence has the power to drive your business.

Marketing White Belt

Christopher Penn

Penn is one of the premiere email and digital media marketers anywhere. In this book he lays a foundation for online promotion.

The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg

Duhigg shows how simple habits and patterns can have a significant impact on performance and marketing success. He uses case studies like how marketers turned Febreze from a flop to a billion dollar company.


Rohit Bhargava

The Internet age impacts how we connect with others and how we build trust over the web. Bhargava sees personal relationships behind every major Internet undertaking.


Roger Dooley

Dooley explains how marketers can use neuroscience and behavioral science to augment marketing campaigns and, ultimately, improve sales. Fortunately, you won’t need to be a neuroscientist to read this book. Dooley presents 100 short and easily understood ideas.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Andy Sernovitz

If Sernovitz is to be believed, your company can get its very best customers with word-of-mouth marketing. Give folks something to talk about.

Unlimited Power

Anthony Robbins

This book is a classic. It will teach you how to master your personal and professional life. Tony Robbins reveals the science of personal achievement and teaches you the 7 lies of success, how to find out what you really want, and the 5 keys to wealth and happiness. 

Marketing in the Age of Google

Vanessa Fox

Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and Blekko are among the top search engines and are some of the the keys to accessing new customers. Fox describes how search and search behavior impacts your business.

Online Marketing Inside Out

Brandon Eley & Shayne Tilley

Aimed at helping you bring your marketing to the online community. This book walks through each modern marketing channel, describing how to use and succeed.

Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy

Although this book is decades old, it still offers significant insights into the world of promotional advertising. It will give the reader a foundation from which modern advertising may be easier to understand and employ. 

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Al Ries & Jack Trout

Brand building, product marketing, and even retail marketing may all boil down to how your business is positioned. This classic book deals with the challenges of marketing “to a skeptical, over-communicated public.”

Likeable Social Media 

Dave Kerpen

This book seeks to deliver on the promise that a recommendation from someone a shopper knows and trusts (like a social friend) can do more to promote a product or a retailer than thousands spent on advertising.

Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in your Customer's Brain

Patrick Renvoise & Christophe Morin

Renvoisé and Morin deal with the science of making a sale. They go into deep analysis of how the human brain responds to advertising and marketing, and gives merchants a better understanding of how to influence customers. 

Your Customer Creation Equation

Brian Massey

This book is a guide to improving your site’s conversion rates. It is one thing to get site visitors, it is quite different to get those visitors to make a purchase.

Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric

Mark Ryski

Site analytics can tell an ecommerce marketer a lot about how visitors are interacting with a site, with products, or with offers, but it is the sales metric — the conversion metric — that matters most.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert B. Cialdini

This book describes the psychology of selling. Why is it that people say yes? Cialdini uses data from several years of study to give you the answer.

Power Stories

Valerie Khoo

This book explains why storytelling is the ultimate tool for business success, and reveals the 8 stories that every online business owner should tell.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Malcolm Gladwell

Although Blink is not specifically a business or success book, it describes why some things just seem right. It encourages the reader to begin to trust his own instincts. The book can have a profound impact on how an entrepreneur thinks and acts.

Purple Cow

Seth Godin

It's important to stand out. In Purple Cow, Godin describes how being a remarkable business — which admittedly doesn’t sound easy — is the key to standing out in today’s marketplace.

Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours

Robert Pozen

This guy is the king of productivity. Entrepreneurs often face the challenge of building a small business while still working a job. Pozen once held two jobs — lecturer at Harvard Business School and president of Fidelity Management — while writing professional. Here he asks the reader to set career goals, objectives, and targets, prioritizing each.

Wait: The Art & Science of Delay

Frank Partnov

Is your business moving at a pace similar to the messages streaming through a Twitter account or does it move more like a glacier? Partnoy describes the decision making process in the context of the pace of your business.

The Design of Everyday Things

Donald A. Norman

First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge, next came service. Now, Donald A. Norman reveals how smart design is the new competitive frontier. This book is a powerful primer on how--and why--some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

Don't Make Me Think

Steve Krug

This is a common sense approach to web usability and is an essential read for anyone who designs, writes, programs, owns or manages online stores.


  • Chris Tsang
    Chris Tsang
    January 29 2013, 08:39AM

    I will add to this list “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. It is the single book that has inspired me to do what I love without wavering. A guide post in life.

  • Mark Schaefer
    Mark Schaefer
    January 29 2013, 09:23AM

    Many thanks for the kind shout-out Mark! I’m glad you enjoyed Return On Influence.

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    January 29 2013, 09:23AM

    Chris: YES – such a good book. I read that a couple years ago and have been meaning to give it a re-read.

  • Kev Kaye
    Kev Kaye
    January 29 2013, 09:52AM

    Solid list, especially the Ariely, Trout, Ries, and Cialdini inclusions. All are great authors for marketers. I would add another great marketing book, “Different” by Harvard marketing professor, Youngme Moon. In it she presents a new paradox for differentiation by using case studies of some of the most successful companies in the world.


  • Brandon Eley
    Brandon Eley
    January 29 2013, 10:22AM

    Thanks for the mention! Great to know Online Marketing Inside Out is still providing value after more than three years.

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    January 29 2013, 10:41AM

    Brandon, I’ve heard so much about your book and can’t wait to read it. Thanks for dropping by!

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    January 29 2013, 11:26AM

    Mark Shaefer: My pleasure Mark – thanks so much for checking out my reading list!

  • Rohit Bhargava
    Rohit Bhargava
    January 29 2013, 11:55AM

    Thanks for including Likeonomics – I’m thrilled to make it onto your reading list and to be among this great collection of recommendations!

  • Helene
    January 29 2013, 06:10PM

    Thanks so much for this list! I love that almost all of them are on Kindle! I’ve created a Wish List in Amazon just for these titles, and plan on working my way through them throughout the year too. Brilliant!

  • Daniel
    January 30 2013, 04:22AM

    Great list. I can highly recommend ‘influence’. It’s one of those books that reveals strategies you’ve seen in play many times and gives you a toolkit to implement them yourself.

    Don’t make me think is also top notch. A classic must read for usability. – the Shopify SEO app

  • Andy Sernovitz
    Andy Sernovitz
    January 31 2013, 10:51AM

    Hi Mark -

    Thanks for including me on this list! It’s a great selection.

    The books that most inspired in my early days are Ogilvy on Advertising, Positioning, and Purple Cow. They set the big picture that all the rest is built on.



  • Sean Dawes
    Sean Dawes
    January 31 2013, 08:47PM

    Missing a bunch of books from this list. Surprised others were on here and not these.

    4HR Workweek by Tim Ferriss

    Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

  • Moin Khan
    Moin Khan
    February 08 2013, 08:04AM

    Superb collection

  • Valerie Khoo
    Valerie Khoo
    February 17 2013, 08:53AM

    Thanks so much for including “Power Stories” in this list. Wonderful to be in such cool company :)

  • libros de ciencia ficcion
    libros de ciencia ficcion
    March 07 2013, 04:49AM

    I like the post very much really it so much good.

  • corporate badges
    corporate badges
    March 16 2013, 02:33AM

    I am quite impressed from this awesome collection. I would like to thank you for sharing this an important and useful info with us which could be very helpful for people. Although, also provides the best marketing strategy for people.

  • suhana
    April 09 2013, 07:14AM

    Today i came across this amazing new website named…i really think you guys should check it out..

  • Sarah Reilly
    Sarah Reilly
    May 14 2013, 09:22AM

    Some very interesting, motivational and influential reads included there. Great list!

  • Ollie
    May 17 2013, 10:00AM

    We’ve all read this book at iCollection Shop called Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh. Its fantastic and has some amazing ideas about how to increase sales and really go that extra mile with your customers.

  • Rachel Ward
    Rachel Ward
    July 26 2013, 11:29PM

    Seems like you have quite a few neuromarketing books on this list. May I recommend a new on that just came out this year – Sales Seduction.
    It’s brilliantly written and best of all it makes it very easy for a layperson to take the insights and apply them to any message, product/service or customer.
    I think the author may be based in Australia… but the book seems to be available at Amazon, iTunes, B&N etc so it’s pretty easy to get a copy.

  • samran
    October 12 2013, 01:52AM

    We’ve all read this book at iCollection Shop called Delivering Happiness:

    Read more:

  • Craig Elias
    Craig Elias
    November 08 2013, 08:17AM

    So if this blog post is about sales – WHY ARE THERE NO SALES BOOK LISTED?

    If you are selling a product to businesses (not B2C Sales) then at an absolute minimum you should read:
    - SPIN by Neil Rackham – the best selling sales book ever written. The best parts of the book are pages 67-98.
    – Customer Centric Selling by Mike Bosworth + his work on how to respond to an RFP:
    – Smart Calling by Art Sobczak – full of great tips on how to sell over the phone
    - Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath

    Read these books and you’ll be 10X the sales person you were before you read these book.

    Happy Selling!


  • Online Marketing
    Online Marketing
    January 14 2014, 02:51AM

    Nice lists of books. I read the “Likeable Social Media” and it helps me in job. Thanks for Sharing.

  • Sara Moca
    Sara Moca
    May 30 2014, 03:32AM

    No, I liked “purple cow” it is a nice book, but it was not as practical as I though it would be. In my opinion if you have anything to do with sales “a legacy in advertising” by Hopkins would be your best option.

  • Ondeng
    July 30 2014, 07:06AM

    You guys have gone ahead of me, I’ve got to do some work. Thanks Mark

  • gicheru
    August 26 2014, 10:23AM

    All these books have interesting and perhaps educating brilliant material for devoted reader.

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