The Wealthy Barber has sold over two million copies, but author David Chilton said his book's success in 1989 had everything to do with luck. Many would argue the content of the book had everything to do with its propulsion to international bestseller lists but Chilton insists he's no genius.
"Everything fell that book's way, it was a lucky stroke and all those years later I still shake my head," he said with a laugh from his home in Sarnia, Ontario. "I think people got sick of me because no one was doing what I was doing but today of course we have a much more crowded landscape and therefore it's more difficult. My timing was very fortuitous."
At the time of the The Wealthy Barber's release, it was one of only a handful of financial tomes on the market. Today there are thousands of fiscal self-help books being published per year. Not only is the competition stiff, the way people absorb information has changed, something Chilton is cognizant of as he writes the final chapters of his second novel, The Wealthy Barber Returns: Significantly Older and Marginally Wiser, Dave Chilton Offers His Unique Perspectives on the World of Money.
"I think society has collective (Attention Deficit Disorder) now, it's very difficult for people to sit down with text-heavy books and read through them and the research is very supportive of that," he said. "You have to keep things moving, you have to keep things short and I think that's doubly true in the finance area where people are intimidated to begin with."
Chilton credits the financial circumstances of the late eighties for the timeliness of his success. Baby boomers were just getting started with their early savings and the decline of interest rates was moving people away from conventional (Gua ranteed Investment Certificates). While some of the messages in his second book are the same as the first (don't spend more than you make and save, save, save), he thinks the Canadian public is facing a whole new set of problems.
"The more stunning piece is that it's incredible in Canada how many people we have that have made pretty big money that have saved almost nothing," he said. "It's not that they saved too little, it's that they have saved nothing. I have a lot of people come to see me in their forties and fifties and they're just hoping for some advice and they show me their financial situation and you're looking at their earnings over the years, then you're looking at their assets and you're going 'What the heck have you been doing?'"