Thursday, April 17, 2008

1 More Way to Find Another Great Read

By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

Another way to find a good read by an author you like is to use the online Literature Map Web site. Simply go to and in the "Name of the author" field, enter the name of the author whose work you just enjoyed and click the "Continue" button. The result will be a screen showing your author's name surrounded by other names. The closer the other names are to your original author, the more likely you will like their works. It's based on people entering author names and indicating whether they have liked those authors' works.

Example: I like Horatio Hornblower by C.S. Forester. If I want to find other authors who write stories similar to hose of C.S. Forester, I enter his name in the entry field. It shows me Dudley Pope, Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Kent, and Bernard Cornwall as closest. It's interesting that Patrick O'Brian, who also writes Napolean-era sea adventures is far to the right. And it's also interesting that the author whose Napolean-era sea yarns I admire most -- Julian Stockwin -- doesn't even show up. But this is a work in progress and the more people who participate, the more accurate it will become.

Give it a try. My good neighbor across the street told me about it and he uses it faithfully. Let me know what you think.

3 Easy Ways to Find Another Good Read

You liked one book, how do you find another like it?

By Alan Eggleston, bookseller

Originally published 7.10.05 on my blog under the same title.

Often we find books that we really enjoy and want to extend that enjoyment by getting another book like it. How do you find one?

Did you like the author's writing style or tone?

One way is to look up more books by the same author. Although an author's style can change over time, and subsequent books can easily be different, it's a good bet that if you like an author's style he or she will repeat it in other books.

Did you like the subject matter?

If what you like is the subject matter, then look up other books by entering appropriate keywords for the subject matter in the Amazon search box on either our business books page or our leisure books page. Here, making sure you get a good read isn't as easy, since different authors often vary widely in style and tone.

Find what other readers have liked

Another way to find similar material is by using the same search boxes mentioned above. Enter the title of the book you enjoyed (better yet, enter the ISBN) and when the book comes up on the page, scroll down. Amazon often lists similar books, suggestions of similar subject matter or similar authors that other readers have ordered. "If you like this book, you may also like these..." in essence.

• Search on our
Business Books section

• Search on our
Leisure Books section

(c) 2005 e-Messenger Consulting Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I was so intrigued by Five Years of My Life!

By Alan Eggleston, Writer, Editor, Bookseller

I was so intrigued by Five Years of My Life by Murat Kurnaz, I read it in a day. It's the story of a young German of Turkish descent who was charged with terrorism by the Bush Administration and was forced to live five years of hell in torture, even though he was actually innocent.

The book covers 255 pages, including epilogue. It tells of this teen of hard-working Turkish immigrants in Germany who decided to give up the wild life of a bouncer for a straighlaced Muslim wife from Turkey, a woman who knew much more about his faith than he did. After marrying her, he decided to study his faith before bringing her back to Germany to live, and he made secret arrangements to travel to Pakistan where he could attend a quick-study school on Islam. He didn't tell his family because he was afraid they would stop him from going. That was the biggest mistake of his life.

Kurnaz planned to accompany friends on the trip, but ended up going alone. He traveled from mosque to mosque with friends he made along the way. At the end of his trip, just as he was heading home, he was arrested. Although official papers said he had been arrested in Afghanistan, he was in fact sold out in Pakistan to American interests for $3,000 and shipped to Afghanistan. There he was interrogated, beaten, tortured, barely fed, and eventually shipped to Guantanamo, Cuba, where he spent the rest of his imprisonment.

This book is not well crafted English. It is a well written narrative. You will experience his uncertainty, his confusion, his pain, his human degredation, and the depravity of a government so focused on capturing terrorists that it refuses to see what it actually has, which is an innocent man. In fact, the government learned early on that Kurnaz was innocent, but Germany didn't want him back -- for silly reasons, it turns out -- so they kept torturing him anyway.

Thank goodness Kurnaz's family learned of his whereabouts, people of goodwill fought for his release, and he didn't give up hope. At the very end, even though the government knew Kurnaz was innocent, as he prepared to board a plane to freedom, they insisted he sign a declaration of guilt or he wouldn't be given his freedom. When he refused, they let him go.

See if you're hooked by the details, the memories, the fear, the insanity of it all like I was. I read this in a day, and I never read a book in a day.
Five Years of My Life, An Innocent Man in Guantanamo
By Murat Kurnaz
ISBN-10: 0230603742
ISBN-13: 978-0230603745

Sunday, February 17, 2008

LAS - New computer "disorder" from Microtrends author Penn?

By Alan Eggleston, Writer, Editor, Bookseller

Did you know that you may be a member of an untapped new microtrend group? If you spend hours on your computer reading or doing research or playing on Facebook, you could suffer from LAS -- Long Attention Span!

This is according to Mark Penn, lead author of the book Microtrends. He's also a political consultant for Senator Hillary Clinton and was the marketing consultant who identified the microtrend group called Soccer Moms critical to re-electing President Bill Clinton in 1996.

I watched with fascination this morning as Mark Penn discussed Microtrends at his book signing at a New York City bookstore on Booktv (CSPAN2). Among the microtrends he mentions were "impressionable elites" and the increasing abundance of "lefties," meaning "southpaws" or people who are left-hand dominant. Penn also said that we are all familiar with the microtrend of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder or those who suffer from short attention spans), but that with each microtrend there is usually a corresponding microtrend and that for ADD there is LAS -- Long Attention Span.

A group of people for whom LAS may be an effect are people who spend hours on their computers. Is that you -- and me?

His point was that science and medicine and marketing are addressing ADD, but they haven't yet acknowledged LAS. The group who do, says Penn, are often 10 years or so behind. Take the car market. Most people who buy cars today are women, a trend about 10 to 15 years old. Yet car dealerships are focused on the male shopper. So look for marketers to start selling you for your LAS addictions like computer time, books, and television time in about 10 to 15 years.

You can read more about Microtrends and Mark Penn and co-author E. Kinney Zalesne on their Web site. The book has gotten mixed reviews, but the trends are fascinating to read.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Want to Find a Book Quickly? Use Its ISBN.

To ISBN or not to ISBN.
By Alan Eggleston, Writer, Editor, Bookseller

I just got into an interesting "conversation" on LinkedIn, the online network for professionals. On LinkedIn you can ask all the other professionals around the world any question you want, and this gentleman -- from Chicago -- is about to self-publish a book and wanted readers' opinions whether he should bother to get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number).

It reminded me of when I was a bookseller in a bricks and mortar bookstore and people would come in looking for books but wouldn't have a title or author's name. They would have seen it somewhere, perhaps even browsed it on one of our shelves the week before. However, they assumed we would be able to figure it out from their general discription. (It had a yellowish cover and it was on that display table over there ... four weeks ago!)

Ladies and gentlemen, bookstores have tens of thousands of books on hand. Most are shelved according to author and then, if the bookseller has time, alphabetically by title -- otherwise, by author in the order he takes them off the book cart. Sometimes in sections like Biographies, they're shelved alphabetically by subject. In the computer section they're shelved alphabetically by title. In every case, it's section by section, so everything in Mysteries is shelved together... everything in Science Fiction is shelved together, and so on.

Believe it or not, I'm heading for a conclusion here.

Your best friend when looking for a book is the ISBN. When you find a book you like -- in the store, at a friend's house, online, at a used book sale, in the library, in someone's hand, lying on a table, buried under piles of papers, in your daughter's backpack -- wherever, and you want to get a copy for yourself, take down the ISBN. Give the ISBN to the bookseller. He or she will be able to immediately locate the book with it. No questions of how to spell the author's name, no questions of whether words in the title are one word or two, no wondering if your author was the main author or the author listed second, he will be able to locate it quickly with the ISBN. Anywhere in the world! Even on your laptop through,, or

Find the ISBN number of any book with the copyright and library catalogue information, usually at the front of the book. It will be either a 10-digit or, nowadays, 13-digit number. See the ISBN Web site for more information on this system.

My new colleague on LinkedIn got a lot of advise from readers about whether to bother getting an ISBN. The one that made the most sense to him, he said, was from this bookseller who explained how much easier an ISBN would make it for consumers to find his book.

Are you a professional? Take a look at LinkedIn for professional networking.

Bookstore Etiquette

Some rules of thumb that can make the shopping experience better for everyone.

By Alan Eggleston, bookseller
Originally published on my blog on 6.29.05 by the same title.

Bookstores, especially large ones, have relaxed the rules of etiquette over the last several years. However, there are still some rules of thumb that can make the shopping experience at a bricks and mortar store better for everyone.

For instance, many people like to browse books before buying them. Some stores have caf├ęs and even let shoppers take books with them to the table. Yet, the more books you take off the shelves to browse, the fewer there are for other shoppers to browse. Bookstore etiquette asks that you only take a couple of books at a time, especially if they’re all from one topic area. Then everyone has a chance to browse.

In another example, some people go to the bookstore to get information rather than to buy a book. Although bookstores don't frown on information gathering, they aren't public libraries. It's certain that if everyone used the bookstore as a public library, bookstores couldn’t afford to stay in business. Bookstore etiquette says to browse books to see if they have the kind of information you’re looking for, but when you find the book or books with the information, buy them. Of course, you aren’t committed to buying just because you’re browsing.

Here are some other suggestions, most of them common sense:

Never use a book as a hard surface for writing notes. Writing on top of it will mark the cover, making the book unsellable. If you do it anyway, be prepared to buy the book. Otherwise, ask a bookseller for a hard surface.

Never write inside a book. Again, the book you’re browsing is for sale – would you want to buy a book that’s been marked up? Be prepared to buy the book if you mark in it in any way -- you mark it you buy.

If you’re going to put the book back on the shelf, try to put it back where it belongs. Most bookshelves are organized alphabetically by author. Bookstores are just as happy if you don’t put the book back in its place – leave it for booksellers, who will be happy to reshelf it.

Keep all the books in your care in good, sellable condition. In addition to the notes above, don’t bend covers back. It’s the same for paperbacks, with the addition that you should never curl the cover back.

Most bookstores have a children’s section, which often sell toys as well as books. They don’t mind your child trying out the toys, but remember that this isn't a play center. Allow your child to play with the toy to see if he or she wants to buy it, but then put the toy back for others to see. Play with only one or two toys at a time. And please keep the area orderly. Scattered toys are a nuisance for other shoppers and a danger for other children.

(c) 2005 e-Messenger Consulting Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Hunting 101

Finding a book can be easy, if you have the right information in front of you.

By Alan Eggleston, bookseller
Originally published 7/08/05 on my blog under "What You Need to Find a Book".

Your search for a book can be a lot quicker if you know a few things first:

If possible, for a specific book get the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) – all bookstores use the same ISBN, which makes a book easier to find in whatever bookstore you find yourself. If you're searching online, enter the ISBN into the search field.
  1. If you don't have the ISBN, know at least the title and author.

  2. If you don’t know the ISBN, title, or author, you may be able to find the work by subject or using keywords that describe the book or parts of its content.

  3. If you don’t have a specific book in mind, you can find choices among books of the same subject or using the same keywords.

  4. If you don’t have a book in mind but you like a certain author, do a search by entering that author's name in the search field. Keep in mind that some authors are prolific writers and you may have to choose from a number of titles.

Some cautions about looking for a book:

  • A book often comes out in hardcover first. Be ready to wait awhile if you don’t want to buy the hardcover edition -- it generally takes about a year before the book comes out in paperback, if indeed it comes out in paperback at all. It can take even longer if the book is popular, like The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, which has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for a couple of years.

  • Don’t expect to find a book using a physical description. Unless you actually run into the book, descriptions seldom work.

  • Some publishers are specialists, such as Scholastic, which publishes children’s books for the educational market. Often their books are available only by special order from schools.

  • Some shoppers remember that they saw the book – such as, it was on a display at the front of the store, it had a yellow cover, and there was a picture on front. That describes far too many books in today’s crowded market.
  • All bricks and mortar bookstores employ booksellers whose job it is to help you find the books you want. However, there is a limit to how much help any bookseller can provide you if you don’t know the title, author, ISBN, subject, or keywords. If you find the right title but the store doesn't have it on-hand, most bookstores would be happy to order a copy for you. They may even call around to other bricks and mortar bookstores to see if they have it.
(c) 2005 e-Messenger Consulting Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Can the Graphic Novel Make The Bible More Relevant to Youth?

The latest attempt to keep The Bible relevant comes to book stores via the graphic novel. Its latest incarnation comes in the form of Manga by Ajinbayo Akinsiku titled "The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation," in which Jesus Christ is presented as "a samurai stranger come to town rather than the gentle, blue-eyed Christ of hollywood blockbusters and illustrated Bibles," says an article in The New York Times.

Says the article, "In a blurb for the Manga Bible, which is published by Doubleday, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, is quoted as saying, 'It will convey the shock and freshness of the Bible in a unique way.'"

This isn't a first for Bibles. The Bible publishing industry has always looked for new ways to bring the Word of God to new audiences in fresh and engaging new ways. Sometimes it's in the language, sometimes it's in the art. Sometimes it's simply in making it available to the masses.

Read more about this remarkable new work in "The Bible as Graphic Novel, With a Samurai Stranger Called Christ" in the Business section of Sunday's The New York Times.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Preview That HarperCollins Book Online Soon!

Look for electronic versions of books published by HarperCollins to appear online for free for one month. According to a story in Sunday's The New York Times, the idea is to allow prospective shoppers the opportunity to browse books like they would in a book store, only of course to do so on the Web.

This is an interesting experiment for a publisher. I purchase a lot of books online and I would love to be able to "leaf" through a book first, although nothing in the article says whether the pages will be exact reproductions of what you'll see in hard copy. I often select a few interior pages at random and read a few paragraphs to get a flavor for the writing, dialogue, characterizations, and so on, before I buy. This will make buying online a lot easier.

You might wonder if people won't be tempted to just read online instead of buy. The article says the books will be available online only for a limited time, which may make that impractical. Furthermore, the online page is a lot harder on the eyes than is the paper page. I think reading a lengthy book online will be very taxing over time. This can work!

Beginning Monday, you will be able to visit the Harper Collins Web site and peruse the following books:
  • The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho
  • Mission: Cook! My Life, My Recipes and Making the Impossible Easy, Mr. Irvine
  • I Dream in Blue: Life, Death and the New York Giants, Roger Director
  • The Undecided Voter’s Guide to the Next President: Who the Candidates Are, Where They Come from and How You Can Choose, Mark Halperin
  • Warriors: Into the Wild, the (1st volume in a children’s series), Erin Hunter

Read more of the good news in HarperCollins Will Post Free Books on the Web in the Business section of The New York Times.