"It’s the kind of thing you can read in one sitting," said Ali Velshi.
Mr. Velshi, CNN’s chief business correspondent, was speaking to The Media Mob on Thursday morning about his newly published book, Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis.
Mr. Velshi said that the slim volume—one of the first books out of the gate pegged to the current financial crisis—aims to walk a general audience through the basics of personal finance.
"The first chapter is the history of how we got here," said Mr. Velshi. "That’s the timely part of it. The rest of it is a real primer in how markets and investments work."
Not only is the book a quick read, according to Mr. Velshi, but it was also a quick write. The CNN correspondent said that his first meeting about the book with his publisher Sterling & Ross took place on November 5th, the day after the presidential election. Roughly 40 days later, the first printed copy of the book rolled off the presses.
How’d he get it done so fast?
Mr. Velshi credited his editor Tom Wynbrandt, who practically camped out at CNN during November and December, organizing Mr. Velshi’s words and passages and combing through transcripts of his previous analysis on TV. "I went into it saying I wanted a book that was accessible," said Mr. Velshi. "That meant inexpensive, paperback, and easy to read."
On Wednesday evening, a crowd of TV newsmen and women descended on McCormick & Schmick’s, a seafood restaurant in midtown Manhattan, to celebrate the book’s publication. On our way in, the Media Mob bumped into Christine Romans, Mr. Velshi’s co-host of CNN’s Your $$$$$, and Victor Neufeld, the former CNN producer and charming man about town.
Inside, the private basement room was packed with wine-sipping well-wishers, including CNN U.S. President Jonathan Klein, executive vice president of CNN Worldwide Ken Jautz, and American Morning anchor John Roberts.
At one point in the evening, Mr. Klein stood at the front of the room and congratulated the author. He joked that Mr. Velshi was typically asking for more money. So the CNN boss was happy to hear that Mr. Velshi was now talking about giving money back.
"Between the book and the economy and the newsroom and my schedule, I don’t get out much," said Mr. Velshi, the next morning. "So I was just kind of excited to be there."
So why should cable-TV attuned investors listen to Mr. Velshi’s advice rather than, say, CNBC’s manic Mad Money man Jim Cramer?
"Cramer is a guy I respect," said the diplomatic CNN anchor. "He’s a guy that I consider a friend. I listen to Jim Cramer. Jim has an encyclopedic knowledge. You listen to Jim because you want to know about specific companies and how they’re going to perform."
"You don’t read my book to be a stock picker," he added. "You read my book to have a broad investment strategy because you’re not otherwise planning on spending a lot of time day-trading. Mine is the book you read because you’ve never wanted to be involved in finances, or you don’t understand your finances, but you’d still like to retire comfortably."
Mr. Velshi said he is aiming to publish a follow-up book sometime around the fall of 2009, which would focus more on how to optimize one’s portfolio.
In the meantime, Mr. Velshi hopes his first book will help catch some of his viewers up to speed on the basics. "I put a book together that is not gimmicky and not all together novel," said Mr. Velshi. "It’s fair, and it’s easy to read, and it allows you to take action immediately."