Book Lists

10 Brilliant Business Books You Can Download For Free

Have you heard about the Gutenberg Project? It digitized over 45,000 books in the public domain and made them available for free download. Over at Forbes, Brett Arends curated 10 business books available on If you’ve never used Gutenberg, here are instructions that explain how you can get each book onto your tablet. To access the file of each book in this list, check out Arend’s article. He has provided links to each file.

As an alternative, we’ve provided links to various online bookstores below. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes books are offering several of them for free.

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Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds

1Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay

Next time someone tries to persuade you of the “wisdom of crowds,” refer back to this. The classic, definitive description of the Dutch Tulipmania, the South Sea Bubble… oh yes, and the investment mania for “the company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.”

The Art of Money Getting

2The Art of Money Getting by P.T. Barnum

Among the first personal finance books, by the nineteenth century huckster and showman. Barnum was famous, or infamous, for “never giving a sucker and even break,” but his advice here is much more sophisticated – and worthwhile.

The Way We Live Now

3The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

The Victorian novel that tells the rise and fall of August Melmotte, the high-finance shark and con-artist. Possibly the first Wall Street-style novel.

Vanity Fair

4Vanity Fair by William Thackeray

Meet anti-heroine Becky Sharand find out “How to Live Well on Nothing a Year.”

Simple Sabotage Field Manual

5Simple Sabotage Field Manual by The United States Office of Strategic Services

A World War II manual for economic sabotage behind enemy lines. Reads like a description of half the offices you work in. “The Office” long before the TV series.

The Prince

6The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

The classic guide to power, written by the sixteenth century Florentine and dedicated to the infamous Cesare Borgia. If you haven’t read it, your business rivals or classmates will have. In the quest for power, is it better to be feared or loved?

The Merchant of Venice

7The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

The Bard’s guide to economics. It’s all here: Diversification, risk, the perils of leverage, the dangers of an ambiguous contract, and proof that, no matter what happens, in the end the lawyers seem to win. Oh yes, and “all that glisters (sic) is not gold.”

The Emperor’s New Clothes

8The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson

Everything you need to know about marketing, vanity, advisers, and crowd psychology in one children’s story. Short, sweet, and oh-so-true-to-life.

The Gentle Grafter

9The Gentle Grafter by O. Henry

Essential reading on swindling. Hilarious collection of short stories about two con-artists hustling their way across turn of the century America.

The Art of War

10The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Gordon Gekko’s favorite business book. Strategic insights that have survived 1500 years. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles… If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”