Richard N. Bolles, "a former Harvard physics major, Episcopal minister and career counselor whose own twisting vocational path led to his writing What Color Is Your Parachute?--the most popular job-hunter's manual of the 1970s and beyond," died March 31, the New York Times reported. He was 90. Bolles self-published the first edition of his manual in 1970 "as a photocopied how-to booklet for unemployed Protestant ministers. In 1972, he rewrote it to appeal to a wider audience and found an independent publisher in Ten Speed Press (now part of Crown Publishing Group), which "was willing to print small batches so that it could be frequently updated."
Since then, Parachute has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and has never been out of print. In 1979, the book hit the New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for more than a decade, returning intermittently for years afterward. In 1995, the Library of Congress including the book, along with Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People and the The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, in its list of "25 Books That Have Shaped Readers' Lives."
"I was just trying to help people be better prepared than I was when I was fired and started looking for a job," Bolles said in a 2014 interview with the Times, adding that he hoped his franchise--which includes titles like What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens; What Color Is Your Parachute? Job-Hunter's Workbook; and What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement--would continue after his death and that his son Gary had asked him about updating future editions. "I told him to make sure to find people who were funny, have a lightheartedness about them. When you are out of work and on the ropes, that is so important."