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 Financial Accounting: A Mercifully Brief Introduction 

The Perfect Intro to Accounting Book for Students, Bookkeepers,  Business Owners and Non Profits

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This book provides an easy to read concise introduction to accounting. The book is designed to help small business owners, accounting students, bookkeepers and non profit managers grasp the fundamentals they need to interpret and analyze financial statements. No prior accounting or business background is needed to understand the material in this book.

Topics Covered

  • The Fundamental Accounting Equation 
  • Recording Transactions 
  • Cash versus Accrual Accounting 
  • Receivables and Payables 
  • Deferred Revenue and Prepaid Expenses 
  • Fixed Assets and Depreciation 
  • Inventory and Cost of Goods Sold 
  • Adjusting and Closing the Books 
  • Compiling the Financial Statements 
  • Gauging the Reliability of Financial Statements

Reader Reviews

For the person who has no knowledge of accounting and wants to understand the very basics this book is indeed a good brief introduction. The author makes a good point of the fact that most introductory accounting texts spend a great deal of time covering the basics of transaction entry. In today's marketplace the software packages take care of these details of ensuring double entry occurs and the entries balance. When that information is removed you end up with the very basics of accounting including the basic accounting equation, cash and accrual accounting, receivables and payables, fixed assets, inventory, and financial statements. Explained at a level that a reader with no previous knowledge of accounting can follow the author does provide a mercifully brief introduction that is only the basics needed for everyday work.

Harold McFarland

This is a great book for small businesses. I've started recommending it to my clients who are doing their own bookkeeping (and all you professionals know what a nightmare that is!) and to bookkeepers who find themselves doing balance sheet accounting without a good background in the real story of debits and credits. This book covers the basics in an accessible, jargon-less prose yet still covers the essential points. I'm suggesting that this be a reference book my clients keep in their offices. That way they have a quick reference guide for themselves or their employees. Hopefully, when they go through 3 bookkeepers in a year the learning curve will be less steep than usual for the new employees, and I'll get fewer "just a quick question" phone calls during tax season.

M. Equinox EA

It is refreshing to read an accounting text with a liberal arts background. This author challenges you to think about what is useful to accounting but also its abuses. Good introduction for the curious reader.

Daniel J. Guilfoil

This book is an essential primer for small business owners who started their enterprise based upon their technical or creative skills - but now need to understand the basic terminology and 'physiology' of financial accounting in greater detail.

It is written in a very free flowing style and is as unthreatening an accounting text as I have encountered. The real life examples and Marxist humor (Groucho - not Karl) help make it that much more accessible. My favorite quote from the book, "Accounting can be accrual mistress." (These are the jokes folks.)

Robert Walter AEI


Financial Accounting: A Mercifully Brief Introduction is an informative and well-written primer on a range of important concepts necessary to “get a handle on” the financial basics that small business owners and allied professionals frequently confront.  The author successfully employs humor in developing scenarios, examples, and explanations which remain in the reader’s mind and  make these oftentimes abstruse subjects understandable.  The Summaries, Exercises and Problems sections of the book are particularly effective teaching tools. I found the most interesting and useful Chapters to be Chapter One (Introduction: Difficult Measurement Problems), Chapter 7 (Fixed Assets and Depreciation Methods), and particularly Chapter 10 (Financial Statement Reliability), for its treatment of embezzlement prevention and related issues.   

I have practiced law for almost 33 years, and have represented many small businesses during that time.  I am pleased to have encountered this book, which I will highly recommend as a very helpful tool for business owners and others in understanding, approaching and evaluating accounting issues.

Sara Clarenbach,

Attorney


Financial Accounting is generally thought of as a very precise science. This 126 page book seeks to dispel the myth. In his own words, author Michael Sack Elmaleh has managed to erase the ill effects of nearly 30 years of formal accounting education and teaching. Michael has written an engaging and thoroughly readable overview of the accounting process so that you can actually understand it! The book is written primarily for small business owners and advisors to small business. He demonstrates how accounting information is organized and collected, and how the information contained in financial statements both informs and misinforms statement users. Since important management and investment decisions are often based on these statements it’s vital that small business owners gain a better understanding of what this information means and its inherent limitations.

John Nessell, President 

Restaurant Resource Group, Inc.


An easy to read, enjoyable guide to the basic principles that underpin accounting systems in businesses. Particularly useful in an educational setting as a supplementary reading to a technical textbook. However, also has a market for small business owners wanting to get to grips with the basics of how to get the most from their accounting function.

Dr. Diane L. Boone, University of Maine, Augusta


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Financial Accounting by Mike Elmaleh