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12 posts from February 2006

American Book Publishing

Here’s an interesting article by Eric Weiner on the state of “American Book Publishing” and the synergy trap many media conglomerates have fallen into. He makes a strong case for partnerships and alliances rather than building media empires.

The Undercover Economist

I bought The Undercover Economist because Amazon recommended it for fans of Freakonomics. I was skeptical at first, figuring it might be a rehash of what I already read in Freakonomics. Boy, was I wrong.

This is one of those unusual books that actually got better from one chapter to the next. I’d have to honestly say that the majority of the books I read tend to get rather boring after the first hundred pages or so. The author generally has a few key concepts to communicate, could do so in 50-100 pages, but the virtues of publishing dictate that you can’t sell a 50- or 100-page book, hence it gets puffed up to 300 pages or so. (See my earlier post about this phenomenon.) Don’t worry about that problem with this book.

The topical coverage is considerably different than what is covered in Freakonomics. If you read The Undercover Economist you’re highly likely to have a new point of view on subjects like free trade, sweatshops, “poor” countries, grocery store pricing, health care costs and even the price of a cup of coffee.

Give this one a shot. As I found with Freakonomics, even if you disagree with the author’s opinions, this book forces you to think hard about whether he’s right or wrong.