Shoptimism

Shoptimism

Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What

In this smart, engaging book, Lee Eisenberg, best-selling author of The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think about the Rest of Your Life, leads us on a provocative and entertaining tour of America's love/hate affair with shopping, a pursuit that, even in hard times, remains a true national pastime.

Why do we shop and buy the way we do? In a work that will explain much about the American character, Eisenberg chronicles the dynamics of selling and buying from almost every angle. Neither a cheerleader for consumption nor an anti-consumerist scold, he explores with boundless curiosity the vast machinery aimed at inducing us to purchase everything from hair mousse to a little black dress. He leads us, with understated humor, into the broad universe of marketing, retailing, advertising, and consumer and scientific research--an arsenal of powerful forces that combine to form what he calls "The Sell Side."

Through the rest of the book, Eisenberg leads us through the "Buy Side" -- a journey directly into our own hearts and minds, asking among other questions: What are we really looking for when we buy? Why are we alternately excited, guilt-ridden, satisfied, disappointed, and recklessly impulsive? What are our biases, need for status, impulses to self-express, that lead us individually to buy what we buy?

Are you a classic buyer (your head wants to do the right thing), or a romantic buyer (your heart just wants to have fun)? How do men and women differ in their attitudes towards shopping, and does the old cliche -- "Women shop, men buy" -- apply any longer?

Of special interest are the author's findings on the subject of What Makes a Good Buy? We all purchase things that we sooner or later regret, but what are the guidelines for making purchases that we'll never regret? What, for instance, defines the perfect gift?

Brimming with wit and surprise, Shoptimism will be delightful and instructive reading for anyone with a credit card and a healthy curiosity about American culture, through good times and bad. For here, in one vivid journey, is a memorable, panoramic portrait of our everyday self-delusions, desires, and dreams.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439160619 | 
  • November 2009
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Lee Eisenberg: Shoptimism

Lee Eisenberg: Shoptimism

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE: The world, stuffed into a little black dress

WE MIGHT AS WELL START, JUST TO work the kinks out, by going dress shopping with my wife. Now, if you’re a man reading this, it’s a safe bet that you’re not thrilled about the prospect of going dress shopping with my wife, much less with your own wife, or going shopping for much of anything save for handheld electronics or a massive, high-definition video monitor. Chances are, if you’re a man reading this, you’re a grab-and-go sort of chap when shopping by yourself, or a wait-and-whiner when shopping with your wife. Either way, you’re... see more

About the Author

Lee Eisenberg
Photo Credit: Marion Ettlinger

Lee Eisenberg

Lee Eisenberg, most recently the author of Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What (2013). The Number was a New York Times bestseller and was cited by Business Week as one of the best books of the year. Eisenberg is also the former editor in chief of Esquire. Under his stewardship the magazine won National Magazine Awards across a number of writing and design categories. He currently lives in Chicago.

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