The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches & Joe Karbo

The front cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Joe Karbo

The front cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Joe Karbo

I first discovered “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” by Joe Karbo while browsing through the Nottingham Bookstore in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. This was sometime back in the mid-70’s. My father, Howard Tedder,  owned the store. It was a paperback book, 6 inches x 9 inches and 3/8 of an inch thick. In the top right corner of the cover it said: $1000 Not the selling price but guaranteed to be what it is worth to you – at the very least. My father had priced the book at $5.00. (Some used copies today are listed for $25 to $50 on Amazon and Ebay.) I don’t know if he ever read it and I can’t remember if I paid him the $5.00 for it. I probably didn’t. I often took books that I liked home and brought them back after I read them. I “paid” for the books by working at the store fairly frequently, cleaning the store, and moving lots and lots of books around.

I took “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” home and read it and I have kept it all these years. When I am going through the books on my bookshelves to make some space, I never even consider throwing it out.  I have never seen another copy of it for sale in a used book store anywhere and I have been to quite a few used book stores. The book that I have is Copyright 1973 Joe Karbo, 17105 S. Pacific, Sunset Beach, CA 90742. The book was originally sold for $10.00 by mail order through advertisements that Joe Karbo wrote and placed in newspapers and magazines.  It wasn’t sold in stores. At the time, a paperback book sold in a bookstore for around $1.95. “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” was expensive compared to a regular paper back book.

The book is divided into two parts, book one and book two. They each have eight chapters and a question and answer section.  Book one talks about “Dyna/Psyc: the programmed study and practice of achieving success by the planned application of important but little understood natural laws.” It talks about an inadequate self image, fear, making lists, turning lists into goals, daily declarations, affirmations, visualization, and letting your unconscious computer (your mind) solve problems for you.

The back cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches. Double click the image to enlarge.

The back cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches. Double click the image to enlarge it.

Book two talks about creativity, turning problems into opportunities and the direct response business (mail order).  Joe goes into quite a bit of detail regarding the mail order business and a lot of the information applies to other types of businesses as well. I think it is an interesting book, well-written, and well worth reading. Joe writes in an easy-going, friendly manner. It is as if he is right there sitting in the room with you explaining everything in person. He gets right to the point of what he wants to say and he packs a lot of good information into the 156 pages of the book. I know there is value in it and I recommend it.

The book sold over 2,700,000 (2 million 700 hundred thousand) copies by the time Joe Karbo died. According to an interesting article on The Lazy Man’s, Joe died in 1980 at age 55 from a heart attack while being interviewed by a TV station news crew. I have not been able (so far) to find a newspaper obituary for Joe Karbo.

The advertisements for the book are as famous as the book itself. Copywriters and advertising people to this day use Joe Karbo’s ad as an example of how to write a great ad. The subtitle for the ad is “Most People Are Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Any Money.” I remember seeing and reading the ads in newspapers and magazines back in the 70’s.

Although I never actually ordered the book by mail, I did try my hand at mail order in the late 80’s by selling a trivia booklet that I wrote and printed.  It was not a success. I can’t recall though, 20 years later, whether or not I was actually inspired to try mail order by reading “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” or whether something else triggered my attempt. In any case, I know that I referred to the book and used some of the mail order information in it when I was working on how to market my product.

The Joe Karbo ad that was placed in newspapers and magazines all over the country. Double click on the image to enlarge it

The Joe Karbo ad that was placed in newspapers and magazines all over the country. Double click on the image to enlarge it

Regardless, here is a copy of the actual ad that ran in newspapers and magazines all over the country.

If you have any stories or opinions about Joe Karbo and The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches or this post, I would love to hear your comments.

13 Responses to “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches & Joe Karbo”

  1. Dear John,

    Wondered if I could use your great picture of the cover of Karbo’s book on my website? I included a chapter on this book in my own book 50 Prosperity Classics (have a look on Amazon), which I am now going to upload onto my site. Like you I have found it difficult to find out much about Karbo, but loved the book. Regards, Tom

  2. John Tedder says:

    Sure Tom. I will send you a copy of the picture. Thanks.

  3. Tim says:

    I have the book, which I also picked up at a used book sale. Interesting to see the original ad for it. The book reads like something someone put together simply because it sounded like it would work–affirmations and mail order. Affirmations were old advice even before 1973. They date back to Emile Coue in the 1930s and before that. (Too bad Joe Karbo didn’t visualize good health and a long life.)

  4. Clive says:

    I am in the UK and have an original copy that I bought as a youngster back in the 1970’s. The guy was a true pioneer of direct marketing and well ahead of his time. I find it hard to believe he does not have a Wikipedia page.

  5. Gary Moody says:

    like Clive, i too am in the UK, i saw an ad on the london underground back in the 80’s when i was 19 years old, stumped up the money and haven’t looked back since. it is a very well written book and, after losing my copy (lent to someone and never returned) i turned to a couple of books i remember him referencing (napoleon hill and ben sweetland) their books really dont cut it for me, Joe’s was written so well.
    after reading his book all those years ago, i made a promise to myself that i would always earn at least £1,000 times my age, its a promise i’ve managed to keep all these years and i place a lot of that down to that book!

  6. Dave says:

    Here are 2 newspaper obiuaries: Joe’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times can be found by googling the words Joe Karbo Fast Talking Television Pitchman. Or if the link works,,2940045

    There second obituary for him is in the Bend Oregon Bulletin, find it by googling the words Joe Karbo Died Pitchman. And if the link works,2840387

  7. Dave says:

    P.S. the Bend Oregon obit erroneously says he wrote The Lazy Man’s Way in the early 60’s after learning about debt. Actually he wrote The Lazy Way book in 1973, but he did write another one called The Power Of Money Management under pen name Joseph Carr in 1967 after negotiating his massive debt with creditors instead of filing bankruptcy, and repaid every penny. He sold about 100,000 copies of that book for $3.95, with ads stating Get Out Of Debt in 90 Minutes Without Borrowing. It was a mere 82 pages, and in 1967 a regular sized paperback was less than a buck! Here’s a link to the newspaper ad for Power of Money Management as of 1970, and the ad above it for Lose Ugly Fat While You Eat The Foods You Love is Joe’s too:,361162

  8. Albert Franklin says:

    I bought my then new copy from Joe’s Society of Partners which loosely functioned as a gateway for anyone of us in the group to try and gain money. Back then, your mailbox just gushed with unexpected cash, its too bad that he’s still in retirement!

  9. Nancy Perrin says:

    June 4 15
    I bought Joe Karbo’s book in the 70’s and feel it contributed to my sales success. I put the book away for many years and just started my morning and evening affirmations again Great way to start the morning and end the evening

  10. vonryansexpress says:

    Joe Karbo pitched on local, pre-cable television, Los Angeles stations, Lazy Man’s Way during the 1970’s.

    He was Paul Prudhomme obese, sat in a big chair during his commercials, and it lent to the title of the book as he played on evening Channels 11 or 5 and 9 and 13 … when all were Los Angeles, independents.

    If anyone had some of that broadcast video, it would be unique Americana for sure.

    Karbo in Sunset Beach, down the road from my high school years a real los angeles snapshot of the good pitchman in time.

  11. Dave says:

    Here’s a video of Joe with his Rolls Royce, being interviewed at his office, and workers packing orders of The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.

  12. Doug says:

    I bought he book in 1973 ..saw his ad..set 10$ ..I read and used the principals to go from dead broke in 1973…to very successful !

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