Ask Murketing: What’s up with different subtitles on Buying In?

Q: I just wanted to recommend “Buying In” to someone, and I could not remember the full name, so I went to Amazon, and was surprised to find two full names, one with “The Secret Dialogue” and the other with “What We Buy”.  Are these the same book or two different books?  I want to make sure that I’m recommending the one I read.

A: Buying In: What We Buy and Who We Are is in fact the same book as Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. The publisher thought it would be good to shorten the subtitle when the paperback version was published, because it would “allow for a less-cluttered and more powerful cover design.” Personally I thought the “secret dialogue” bit was the most interesting element of the title, but what do I know? Well, I know what I said when this was suggested: “okay.” It’s actually not all that unusual for books that are, shall we say, not best-sellers, to have their subtitles or even titles tweaked — Tyler Cowen’s last book came out in paper with a completely different title than the hardback version, to name a recent example. In any event, it is the same book; the only difference is that a few typos are corrected in the paperback version. If you recommend either, you should be fine.

N.B.: Questions in “Ask Murketing,” basically a new feature, though I may have tried it earlier, are real and verbatim, and selected for inclusion from email I receive because I believe the answer may be relevant, or of interest, to others.

Ask Murketing: Is consumption still an appropriate topic?

That question in the headline appeared on the “wall” of the Consumed Facebook page recently.

Here is what I think:

I actually think more people are interested in consumption as a topic than have been at any time since I started writing the column.

Some readers may be interested in a different way than they used to be, but that’s certainly fine with me. The most puzzling misreading of the column has in the past come from those who have seen it as a “shopping column,” as if my goal was to point toward things I think readers should buy.

These days people seem to be more in the general spirit in which the column is actually written: Consumer behavior and consumer culture are topics worth thinking about.

So that’s my take.

But maybe you see it differently. Should I find another way to make a living? If so, will you hire me?

Ask Murketing (which in turn asks you): How much style will you sacrifice for function?


A friend of Murketing writes:

The other day I bought new running shoes, Asics. I like a certain model (Nimbus) which are super comfy, but they are designing progressively uglier, and this latest incarnation is just hideous, with these weird scribbles along the bottom. It also comes in pink and purple (’cause that’s what we gals like).

I like Asics not out of true brand loyalty, but because the shoe does fit me well and is most comfortable. But this tme I nearly bought something else because these are really just plain ugly; I had a chat with the clerk who agreed and said, in fact, every customer is saying the same thing. It’s like Asics has some death wish or something, to drive away customers.

It’s just peculiar how in the running kicks market, some brands never look ugly, and soem seem to go out of their way to look ugly. I guess my question is how loyal are people — can you make a product so aesthetically undesirable that even the faithful will ultimately go away?

Interesting question! Setting aside whether Asics has a design death wish (although if you have opinions on that, let me know), is there a point at which a product is just ugly you’ll switch to a different one even if it means sacrificing something like comfort or performance?

Ask Murketing (which in turn will ask you): What’s the deal with Fage yogurt?

Q: Why is “Fage” [link] suddenly everywhere? Who decided that yogurt is now supposed to be gunky? Why are people suddenly fanatical about it?

Would love your thoughts on this,

[Name redacted]

A: Uhmmmm. I don’t know. Thoughts, anybody?