Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

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The Art of Book Buying

By Pamela Van Giessen

Amazon.com (not necessarily amazon.co.uk) increasingly makes more of its titles available for searching (via the "search inside" feature). You may want to browse amazon.com but purchase through amazon.co.uk (why the two sites don't match remains a mystery to me). Additionally, many publishers' websites have table of contents and some excerpts available. We are a ways from having quick and easy access to everything we'd like to have access to before making the purchasing decision but there are lots of opportunities to see what one is buying these days (and it's improving daily). Additionally, in the old stores of yesteryear, there was a limited selection (has anyone ever seen Nock in more than one bookstore in the world ever, and there are probably only 10 stores, mostly on college campuses, that have ever even carried Heyne). Through the internet you can find almost everything published on a subject. It may be we've gone from not having enough selection to too much but the latter condition beats the former. And word of mouth still reigns as the supreme selling method -- as it did 10 or 20 or even 30 years ago -- but now it's easier for that word of mouth to spread (via websites, message boards, internet lists such as this, etc.).

Ten years ago I was about ready to give up on book buying. Today I purchase 10x what I did in 1995. In 1995 the small stores were dying (or dead), and the superstores were taking over, and while those stores had (have) a lot of books, I found that they didn't necessarily have a great selection of books. Amazon and other online shops changed my world. One of my favorite features with Amazon, in particular, is the "wish list" function. Whenever someone gives me a book recommendation, I immediately add it to my Amazon wish list, and then monthly, I browse it and make a big purchase. For years, I'd lose little scraps of paper with book recommendations, or not be able to find the books.

Additionally, we can now access many valuable websites that have book lists of recommended readings. 10-20 years ago if you wanted to learn about economics, you were stuck with whatever books were in your local store. Now you can do a web search on, say, "Austrian economics" or "libertarian economics" and be directed to good sites that provide you with reading lists. Overall, the internet not only makes getting almost any book we'd want easier, it has made it much easier for us to even learn about books that we might find of value than the book buying landscape of yesteryear. Life is good