Daily Archives: February 4, 2009

Buyology by Martin Lindstrom

Why do we buy what we buy, and specifically how do ads work? More importantly, how can companies make rational decisions on how to spend their advertising dollars?  Buyology and its extremely proud of himself author tell us all about it, thanks to a long and detailed study that uses MRIs and other fancy medical techniques to literally probe into the brains of consumers. It’s very interesting to see how people don’t always report what their brains are really experiencing — we self-edit, I imagine, rather than fail to notice how interested we really are…

Some of the findings are depressing, such as the scary fact that warnings on cigarette packages make the cigarettes more attractive, especially warnings that include scary pictures (as in the case in the UK.) Others are lighter fare, such as why iPod earphones are white and why most ads not only fail to sell, they fail to even get remembered. A very interesting book despite the author’s overly healthy ego.

BTW, the (lame) foreword is by the author of another interesting related book called Why We Buythat’s well worth reading as well.

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How to Live by Henry Alford

How to Live claims to chronicle a search for wisdom from old people (while they are still on this earth.) And indeed, it does. Chronicle the search, that is, which consists of the minutiae of arranging interviews interspersed with not very interesting conversations with famous people such as Ram Dass (would love to be living in his Maui house though, minus his paralysis, that is) and non-famous people who seem reasonably likable but who spout pretty generic stuff. And there’s the saga of his elderly mother’s divorce from his stepfather, divorce apparently triggered by this interview of the stepfather. Awkward for outsiders and rather boring, although his mom is a character.

To be fair, I found what I thought was a hilarious and most applicable piece of advice in this book: Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. I’ll keep that in mind — and read other books!

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Filed under Non fiction