If you only buy one book this year…

Make it A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

But if you buy a second, I’d highly recommend the exquisite new edition of D&AD’s The Copy Book.

As it’s my blog, I think I’ll make this all about me.

When I first got a placement at Abbott Mead Vickers (1998) it was the best agency in the world. But more than that, it was far and away the best agency for copywriters in the universe. This was proven beyond doubt by the first edition of The Copy Book.

That 1995 incarnation of the copywriters’ book of copywriters contained four members of my department: David Abbott, Tim Riley, Alfredo Marcantonio and Richard Foster. Then Alfredo left, only to be replaced by Tony Cox. Then David left, and I was down to three.

Shit. What would I do with only three of the world’s greatest copywriters to learn from? Well, I could slum it with some of the others: Mary Wear, Sean Doyle, Malcolm Duffy and Nigel Roberts. They all appear in the new edition of the book, and could always be called upon to help turn my copy from shit to slightly-less-shit to (very occasionally) not-shit-at-all. (I should also mention here that I always considered three other members of my department, Peter Souter, Jeremy Carr and Tony Malcolm, to be the equal of the newbies, if not the first edition giants. Also, Tom Carty and Walter Campbell could produce verbal advertising as good as anyone else’s. If anyone from Taschen is reading this, could we have another volume called ‘The Creatives Book’, which lays bare the secrets of the great TV and Integrated writers and art directors? Thanks.)

So I read the first book from cover to cover more times than I can remember and took a sad little thrill in knowing that so many of these greats were no more than thirty feet away from me at any one time.

It taught me a great deal, but fell from publication, so I’m delighted that a new edition with some more contemporary greats has been compiled (other new additions include Dave Trott, Andy MacLeod and Mike Boles).

I recently sold all my D&AD annuals because the online version is more useful and the One Show books have better copywriting. But I would not have sold my Copy Book (it went missing under mysterious and suspicious circumstances a few years ago when a client expressed an interest in owning one). Its wisdom is invaluable and will never go out of date.

The other point I must mention is that has been beautifully designed by my friend Paul Belford. As usual, he’s made it look utterly wonderful (and chosen a lighter paper, which makes the book easier to carry and flick through), but also took great care to make the whole thing legible, including this lovely little design idea on the front page:

Buy yours today.

PS: Nigel – three films better than the book: Jaws, The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather.