Tyler Cowen advises:
visit Borders every Tuesday to look for new books, go to a local public library every other day and scan the new books section, subscribe to TLS, London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, noting that you should spend more time with the ads than the book reviews, read the blogs Bookslut and Literary Saloon, read the new magazine BookMark (recommended), read the NYT, FT, and Guardian and their books sections, review lots of books on your blog and peruse the numerous review copies you get in the mail (thanks, you mailers and yes I do look at each and every one; keep them coming!).
It’s rare that I rely on recommendations from other people.
Oh, yes, you should get free shipping on Amazon.com.
Hmm. My reactions / thoughts:
- Don’t buy books at bookstores. You can get them cheaper online and of course find a more in-depth analysis. Using bookstores to find a new book (and then later buy online) is hit or miss; I usually find it inefficient.
- Follow 800CEORead.com for the latest business books.
- Read BookForum.com compulsively for general brain food and book review links.
- Read the LA Times, NY Times, FT, Economist, and WSJ book reviews sections. Some papers also have book blogs — here’s the LA Times Jacket Copy, NY Times Papercuts, New Yorker’s Book Bench.
- Ask publishers to send you books. You’ll be surprised how many say yes and comp you a copy, even if you’re a nobody.
- Use an Amazon.com Wish List to track all the books you want to read. I have over 300 books in my Wish List. Make a note in the "notes" section if someone recommended the book to you — so you can thank them if you read and like it.
- Why not rely on personal recommendations, Tyler? If it’s someone who knows your taste, consider their recommendation.
- Customer reviews on Amazon.com are generally unreliable.
- Go to book sales from your local library, where books should be priced at a dollar or two each. Buy a truckload, and sort through them at home.
- If in a bookstore, considering a purchase, don’t read the jacket copy of a book, which is often written by people in the marketing dept of the publisher who haven’t even read the book. Instead read the first few pages in the Introduction.
- MOST IMPORTANT: When in doubt, buy the book. You can always put it down if it’s bad (unless you have a compulsion to finish every book you open, which is indeed a tragic disorder). And there’s a chance the book will move you. Some of the best books I’ve read I almost didn’t buy.