Buying In: On sale now

Posted by Rob Walker on June 3, 2008
Posted Under: Buying In (the book)

So, the day is here: June 3, official release date of Buying In. Go to your bookstore and demand a copy! Write a flattering review on Amazon! Tell all your friends! Give a copy to a much-photographed celebrity! Etc.

Anyway, I’m up early to do a few radio interviews (Brian Lehrer today* for those of you in NYC), and was extremely pleased to be greeted by this review of the book in Salon, by Laura Miller, a writer I’ve long admired: “Buying In is an often startling tour of this new cultural terrain….” Whether you agree with her take or not, the review will definitely give you a sense of whether this book is for you.

If you prefer a shorter take, though, Seth Godin is concise and decisive: “great!”

Meanwhile, the next Austin Craft Mafia Q&A will be up in a couple of hours.

*UPDATE: If you want to hear the above-mentioned Brian Lehrer Show segment, it’s archived here; that link also has the various posted comments of listeners. After my segment I hung around for a chat about Sex & The City with Slate‘s ever-impressive Dana Stevens. Here is that segment, again with comments.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I haven’t read the book, but I heard the WNYC interview. I don’t quite get your opinion about this: if there are so many murky advertising techniques influencing us and making us think we are making our own decisions when we’re really not, then what can we do to regain control?

I experienced the same _I’m using a small brand instead of the big brand_ feeling too when it came down to the toothpaste(!) I was using, because the brand I use promises not to test on animals while many of the others reportedly do. Do you consider _cause oriented_ brand decisions like those silly or just genius on the part of the manufacturer for finding those niches to get money from?

Written By Michal on June 3rd, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

Hi Michal,

On the first question, it’s hard to answer on a talk show (or in a comment) in a real way, but very broadly I argue in the book that a clearer understanding of how commercial persuasion works, and affects us (often in nonconscious ways) is a useful start to making better decisions. This sounds glib in one sentence, but then that’s why I felt I had to write a whole book to make my points!

On the second question, cause marketing is something I deal with a bit in the book, although maybe not all that much, and again to be very broad I would say that I tend to think matters that relate directly to the product (no animal testing, for instance) are more compelling than the add-on style that’s become extremely popular lately: Basically, we’ll keep making the same product, and give some sliver of the profits to a cause, and try to suck up the halo of that cause so you’ll feel like you’ve done something charitable — by shopping. There’s a lot of that going around. And marketers aside, at the end of the day it really is up to the consumer: If you have some set of beliefs on how things or made or etc., then that should be reflected in what you buy. Often people just buy one “cause” thing and feel like “I’ve done my part,” and use other rationales for the next purchase, etc.

Written By Rob Walker on June 3rd, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

Congrats on the book release. I just read the Salon review, very interesting. I am buying the book today.

I have a question for you. Do you think your analysis can apply not just to brand name products, but to the channels through which we acquire these products? I am thinking of the obsession with Target among my “mommy board” friends, or my own preference to use Amazon versus other online sellers.

Written By Ingrid on June 3rd, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

Hey Ingrid, thanks so much. That’s a good question, I’m not sure I address it directly in the book, but my basic reaction is yes, and Target is a perfect example.

Written By Rob Walker on June 4th, 2008 @ 10:34 am

Congratulations for release day!

It’s a great read but now I feel much less immune—like I thought I was—and more like a sucker for being so loyal to almost every brand you touch upon in the book. I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Printer’s Row Book Fair.

Written By BWJ on June 4th, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

I don’t have anything thoughtful to say. ONly Congrats, My Friend. Can’t wait to pick up a copy of my own.

Written By Amy C Evans on June 4th, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

BWJ: Please say hi after the Printers Row thing if you have time, I would love to meet you.

Amy: You’re too nice, thank you of course. I only wish my (cough) “tour” were taking me to Oxford!

Written By Rob Walker on June 4th, 2008 @ 7:20 pm

I’ll definitely hang around. I’d love to meet.

See you Saturday.

PS. I went to school in Richmond, at VCU. I let everyone I know who is still hanging around there, to come out tonight. Hopefully they’ll follow through. It’s a great little city.

Written By BWJ on June 5th, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

Hey, I haven’t had a chance to look at your book yet, but I heard your interview on the Brian Lehrer show. Marketing is definitely getting murkier…and branding is becoming more…prominent, perhaps? Dr. Tantillo (‘the marketing doctor’) <–that’s his brand, of course– has a whole blog devoted to looking at things through a branding lens:

Written By elo on June 7th, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

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