Should I Sell Books At My Talks?


What do you think? I would love to get your opinion.The more feedback the better.

Every year, I give dozens of investment talks around the world.

I never bring investment books, despite having written two of them. I rarely talk about my books.

When I give talks, I always introduce myself as the author of Millionaire Teacher and the Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing.

But that’s where it ends. I don’t mention where people can buy my books.

Does that make any sense? Here’s why I ask.

I’m paranoid (yes, you could use that word!) that anyone might think I have a conflict of interest. That’s why I don’t demand a speaker’s fee. That’s why I don’t sell my books.

But I’m left wondering, “If the books are far more helpful than my 60 minute talk (and I think they are!) am I shortchanging people by not bringing books to my talks?

Would attendees be especially motivated (or not?) to read those books and learn (then act!) after I have given my talk?

I wrote the books to help people, not to make money.

When a copy of Millionaire Teacher sells in a bookstore or on Amazon, I make about $1.50 a book. If I ever sold one privately (at a book talk, for example) I would make about $8 a book after shipping costs. Yeah, it really is that lucrative, sarcasm intended.

So, here’s my question. If I bring books to my talks, is it more helpful to people?

Or can I help people further by establishing the highest level of trust?

If I have nothing to gain by speaking, will people trust me more, and will that, in turn, provide them with the biggest benefit when I share some of what I know in a 60 minute talk?

Please tell me what you think. I would love to get dozens of responses.


Please and thank you!


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Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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12 Responses

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  2. Ben Shearon says:

    Hi Andrew
    I think you should sell books at your talks, BUT only if you are not the one selling them 🙂

    Actually selling the books (taking money, giving receipts) is very time-consuming. People will want to talk to you at the event, so ideally you would have an assistant to sell the books (a local fan would probably step in to help) leaving you free to talk and interact with the audience.

  3. Chris says:

    Firstly, let me say that I think you provide an amazing free service via this blog and your public speaking engagements. To find someone so generous with their time, and such a good financial teacher is a very rare thing indeed. I do share your view that the materials contained in your books go far beyond what could be conveyed in a 60 minute talk. I have not, so far, been able to hear you speak but, in attending other seminars, I have always been happy to have immediate access to any useful supplementary materials. (even if there is a small cost attached).

    Let me add that, like you, I intensely dislike the kind of seminar that transforms into an aggressive sales pitch – so I do understand your reticence to sell directly. One way around this might be to enlist the advance support of a seminar attendee or host. You would continue with your normal practice – without any promotional or sales pitches – but someone (effectively on your behalf) would say “I have a few copies of Andrew’s books available at XX price, so if anyone is interested they can contact me later”. Or something to that effect.

    I feel most attendees would in any case want to show some support in return for your services – either by purchasing a book or writing a review etc. Just reading through the postings on this blog, I would say it is a minuscule price to pay for saving so many people from the likes of Friends Provident or Generali and putting them on a footing for a firmer financial future. I say go for it!

  4. AR says:

    Hi Andrew. Not been to one of your talks, but have bought & read Global Expat (and use the methodology).

    Yes I think you should sell the books at your talks. Perhaps offer a proportional discount off list price if you are getting paid for the talk. I’d certainly let people know before your talk commences that they will have the option of buying the book at the end so they don’t need to take too many notes.

    I’m sure you have saved a lot of people a lot of money in your time…you obviously need to sustain an income to continue that good work. Such is life. Also, your book wasn’t available in paper form in the country where I purchased it, so had to stick to the Kindle version which was a bit of a pain as I like to write comments and notes in margins…if I’d been to a talk then I’d have certainly welcomed the opportunity to buy your paperback there.

    Good luck!

  5. Robert Wasilewski says:

    Sell the books. As I related to you previously I talked to a young man from Texas who had been in prison and from our discussion your book “Millionaire Teacher” clearly changed his life. He came from a very poor background but now sees what he needs to do to get on the path to begin investing for a nice retirement. I highly recommend the books as holiday presents, especially for young teachers and anyone going overseas to work. Recommend as well that people ask their human resources department/ school library get your books.

  6. Mark Zoril says:

    I understand your hesitancy on this, but I would definitely have them available. Some of the attendees are definitely going to be interested in purchasing one of the books, so it will simply be convenient for them to have them available right there. I think some of the attendees will appreciate the opportunity to purchase at the talk. Of course, you will need to either carry around the box of books or ship it in advance…

  7. François says:

    I think you should ask the person who invites you to the talk to organise an order of your books for people who attended the talk and would like to order a copy or more (email list, payment, transfer to you). It makes it easier and you don’t need to carry the books with you. You can then ship the books to one location and avoid the amazon cut.

  8. Lynne says:

    Keep in mind that sometimes people value information more when they’ve paid for it. It’s not logical, but it is often true. I’d bring the books (and maybe even charge a standard speaker’s fee, which you can then be liberal in waiving out of the goodness of your heart). I don’t know about schools, but in a lot of sectors you’d probably actually get more places interested in having you come speak if you charge a fee. If it’s a service you’re offering for free, some people are going to think it’s not worthwhile. Because humans. 🙂

    (And I know you have good reasons for doing this at no charge, and I find it refreshing. I’m not put off by that at all. But I’m not normal. 😉 )

  9. toony says:

    I think it’s absolutely vital you bring some books to your talks in the UAE! I applaud what you do but disagree about you not charging a basic speaker fee – it takes a lot of time to prepare and deliver the talks!
    Don’t see a conflict of interest:
    – you don’t get commission when people buy the index funds you write about!
    – you are not forcing anyone to buy anything!
    – There’s only so much you can cover in a 60 mins talk.
    – Some topics can be overwhelming if people are new – book needed as a reference guide/help people understand the concepts you talk about much better, long after you are gone 🙂
    I had trouble getting your books in Abu Dhabi. Bookstores I went to didn’t stock it. Online sellers had trouble shipping to the UAE. Eventually found one that charged extra AND took weeks to get to me!
    Wanted to get extra copies of your book as well – to stop colleagues stealing my copy 😉

  10. Rohan says:

    I would.

    I might do this differently though – I would let the organizer do the selling for you and explain your rationale.

    Happy to chat via email, Andrew – if I can be helpful..

  11. Ray says:

    Hi, I concur with the sentiment. Sell the books. But as you know there needs to be some thinking about the logistics of bringing them with you, organising payment i.e. credit card. Who will physically sell them, you? I have not read enough of your blog to understand what numbers you get to talks, having read the Global Expat book, it should be 100’s. But if its only you selling and the process is slow……I would not want to be number 99 in the queue (line). So I am thinking, sell if you can get the organisers to provide means of payment, several people to do the physical sale and don’t make yourself responsible for the transportation of heavy books. Of course if carting boxes of books around is a substitute for visits to the gym whilst you are on the road………

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