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Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743296250
ISBN-10: 0743296257
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eisenberg (The Number) reveals the mechanisms of manufacturing needs and wants in this book that explores every facet of retail consumption, from advertising to behavioral marketing, from malls to Internet communities. The author presents his own family's consumption habits as a litmus test, which, while providing context, effectively sidelines the experiences of those who do not embrace consumerism with the same fervor. Dividing the retail landscape into Buy and Sell, Eisenberg provides a cornucopia of consumption trends, brain scans indicating beer preferences, zip-code–based lifestyle data, psychographic information, blogs and buzz measurement. Searching for a Unified Theory of Buying, the author dismisses analysts such as Marx for misunderstanding needs and Schor for scolding consumers. Entertaining the possibilities of Brand Communities, the author superficially considers Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital, settling finally on a typology of Romantic and Classic buyers. Although a thorough compendium of today's marketplace, the author's friendly come along with me tone sometimes devolves into glibness, and in accepting conditions as is, his observations might prove as fleeting as buyer's remorse. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"As a so-called advertising guru for the past fifty years, I found Shoptimism to be brimming over with wit and sly insight into the darker recesses of the consumer's soul." -- George Lois, member, Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and pioneer of advertising's Creative Revolution
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743296257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743296250
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Lee Eisenberg has enjoyed a colorful and distinguished career on both the creative and business sides. As the editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine, he led the publication to numerous national magazine awards in diverse categories such as General Excellence, Reporting, and Design. He was also the founding editor of Esquire in the U.K.

In 1991, Eisenberg was recruited to be one of six founding partners of the Edison Project, an initiative to design a business and academic plan for a system of world-class schools across the country.

In 1995, Eisenberg joined Time Inc. where, as a consulting editor, he helped Time magazine launch a series of initiatives, including Time.com; Time for Kids; special issues on a number of topics; and The TIME 100, a collaboration with CBS News that chronicled the most influential men and women of the 20th Century.

In 1983, he wrote "Breaking Eighty: A Journey Through the Nine Fairways of Golf," a charming expose of the physical and psychological perils of the game. The book was praised (apolitically) by Rush Limbaugh.

In 1999, Eisenberg was named executive vice president and creative director at Lands' End, the direct merchant, where he oversaw print and online creative efforts, as well as the company's national advertising, marketing, and public affairs activities. He resigned in 2004 to begin work on "The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life," which "Business Week" named one of the Top 10 Career Books of 2006. "The Number" earned a place on numerous national best seller lists, including the "New York Times,"" The Wall Street Journal," "Business Week" and "USA Today," and has been published internationally.

His next book was "Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What," which was published in 2009 by Free Press/Simon & Schuster and was widely cited for its insights into both the marketing and customer sides of American consumerism.

His latest book is "The Point Is: Making Sense of Birth, Death, and Everything in Between," published by Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group. It offers a fascinating, modern take on human history's oldest questions: Why are we here? What does it all mean? Eisenberg draws on a fascinating array of philosophers, psychologists, poets, novelists, and everyday people to advance a provocative theory on how we attempt to explain ourselves to others. The book was named one of the ten-best titles in its category by Publishers Weekly.

Eisenberg has been a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, and was one of the founding fathers of Rotisserie League Baseball, the forerunner of fantasy sports. He divides his time between Chicago and New York City. For more information and updates, including an ongoing blog, visit LeeEisenberg.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Our capable author offers extensive personal analysis-plus on today's kind of shoppers and sellers...in the mall, inside the store, on the internet. --Though, maybe by intentional omission, he doesn't say a whole lot about buying "stuff" on the web.

For the most part, Eisenberg takes a relatable look at why we buy and why we will buy forever (no matter what). Details are plenty and his story compelling. ~But it really goes directionless. For instance, the author leaves us with no "solutions" (even in his "Afterword") to issues of the inner- and outer goings-on of retail sales. ~Surely because, all along, he points out no real "problems."

It's a descriptive venture. On this page, he takes the side of clever merchants. On another, he's happy to side with buyers in their never-ending quest to amass as much "stuff" as possible. That's objectivity for you. There's no judgment. Nothing's "right" or "wrong." She buys. He sells...and Eisenberg leaves it at that. Imagery abounds. Quick facts and figures are everywhere.

~But who's this book written for? College professors on the subject have likely heard it all before and probably already have enough buy-n-sell books with far more depth and rigor. Matter of fact, the author quotes many, many of these university academics, study experts, and social scientists along the way. ~And, why would shoppers care about motivations for/clarifications on their own buying habits? Eisenberg suggests: "Shoes On Sale!" is the kind of particulars most shoppers really care about.

The book'd be a winner if it didn't get all tangled up in the vague psychologies of selling and (mostly) buying. Romantic buyers? Classic buyers? Mars? Venus? Freud? Tom O'Guinn? (I didn't know him either. --from the U. of Wisc.
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Format: Hardcover
Shoptimism is a fun and informative book about shopping, but it is much more. As a social history of America's past several decades, it informed me of much of what I had not observed around me and was nostalgic for many things I had all but forgotten. The book explores how shopping-related phenomena influence our present and have shaped our past.
For example, it recalled a memory from the mid-1960's. I was in a barbershop, waiting, reading Esquire magazines (of which Lee Eisenberg later became editor). In one, was an article called "The Ins and the Outs," in which numerous consumer goods, personalities, activities, etc. of American life were classed as "In" or "Out". In the next issue was a Letter to the Editor, which stated, in its entirety, "Re: The Ins and The Outs; what in the hell are you talking about?" If I could find the writer of that letter now, I would have him read Lee Eisenberg's book.
Shoptimism is full of information and wide-ranging references that entertain, challenge, and inform. As a physician, I found fascinating the explorations into the classification of "shopaholism" as a mental disorder and the examinations of cutting edge neurobiology as related to consumerism. The cleverness of the writing, with plays on the jargon of the topics and argot of the subjects, and the conversational tone keep the reading from being heavy even though some of the topics are weighty.
Mr. Eisenberg is to be congratulated upon the even-handed treatment he gives contentious subjects. He avoids polemics and does not violate the reader's trust. The book treats a trendy topic with academic thoroughness without forfeiting the fun of trendiness. If I were a marketing or communications teacher, I would recommend it to my students. As father of grown children, I will give copies to my kids for
Christmas.
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Format: Hardcover
In the era of hyper-focused, niche marketed business texts, it's refreshing to read a book like Shoptimism which provides insight that benefits a number of different readerships, particularly those on the Sell Side (the sellers of goods and their cadres of marketers, consultants and other consumer-enablers) and those on the Buy Side (consumers in their various iterations). Aspiring retailers, salesfolk looking to better understand their constituencies, consumer psychologists and wannabe Mad Men (or Mad Women) will all benefit from the book's "Consumerism 101" stroll through the mind of the American consumer and the entities that may be pressing the buttons that spin the wheels inside that mind. Individuals who want a better understanding of why they buy and what forces may be motivating that decision-making process (or perhaps to self-diagnose an alarming lack of such process) will also be well served by this book. The author's use of personal anecdotes, whether it be a recounting of his brief tenure as a Target floorwalker, a trip to the dressing room with his wife or his observations regarding his teenage son's quest for an elusive pair of Japanese sneakers, brings some real-world perspective to a subject that many consumers take for granted or spend little time analyzing. His "come along with me" perspective when delving into the nerve center of retail anthropologist/consultant Paco Underhill or exploring the seamy underbelly of the knockoff trade is effective and informative without dipping into the realm of sensationalistic "investigative journalism." Eisenberg's conversational writing style avoids the didactic but never veers into glibness.Read more ›
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