Generally i am not a great fan of Self Improvement books but based on recommendation from a collegue i bought a book called "PersonalImpact", though i wouldnt say it was a bad book, it was not very impressive either. But this gave rise to very interesting questions about the selfhelp books.
There are multitudes of selfhelp books. There are the kind of books that take (auto)biography format and tell you how successful a particular individual was and how you can emulate the same and other popular kind is those which directly tell you what to do, Like 'How to do negotiations effectively', 'how to successfully run your business', 'how to influence everybody' etc.
While there is a certain amount of authenticity in the former category the latter is a complete joke especially those written by obsure 'thought leaders' and other intellects.
The common theme among all of these books is to have a catchy title which exploits our want and current state of affairs, for e.g how to influence your boss?, how to close every deal; If you closely observe the titles are generic enough to catch your attention span very very fast. Once you fall prey to this then you develop an urge to buy (especially when you are buying books from railway stations W.H Smiths like me) in a hurry.
The main problem with the Self Help books/authors is the fact that they all think that the rest of the world is completely dumb and need their help to have basic sanity. This is very close to the moral high ground that religious leaders take by proclaiming that the world is full of sinners and they have the message of the God to relive us from the clutches of sin. Like the preachers exploiting those poor mortals by promising a berth in the heaven, these neo conmen(some times women too) promise higher salary, likeable personality, faster career growth, becoming thin, quitting smoking etc.
The Self Help industry thrives in the chaotic times and now is their best time to make most out of the current confusions in the world(rumours say, 10 downing street has placed huge orders for 'economy for dummies). Though i dont argue that all selfhelp is rotten, i feel the basket is more full of rotten eggs than good ones. If in doubt, please check out 'I moved your cheese' by Darrel Baristow Bovey. Awesome read and hilarious.