Buy Where You Shop
Subject:   Responsible browsing
Date:   2003-05-23 05:47:09
I see people bringing their laptops to the coffee tables at Barnes & Nobles and pulling computer books off the shelves. Never mind writing term papers, these people are obviously coding, which is just unconscionable.

But "extreme browsing" is often a way of gaining a general education through gleaning. I've spent many hours browsing, leafing through computer books on many topics in an effort to gain an overview of programming and computer science. (I'm a self-taught hobbyist who has purchased hundreds of dollars worth of books in the last two years from bookstores.)

Am I supposed to buy books on assembly programming, networking in C, Smalltalk, operating systems and so forth, when I have no interest, currently, in using that knowledge in my programming? I put what I can into my brain, knowing that years from now I may have an interest in it and the experience to begin to study advanced topics. The only way I will be able to judge that, though, is by surveying the vast material now.

I am careful and respectful in my handling of books, and find myself straightening the shelves. I'm sure there are many others who act the same.

The average computer book is running around $40. There is no way I could buy every book without searching for online bargains. By the time I have decided to purchase a book, I have leafed through it in a bookstore and read reader reviews from one or more online booksellers.

Who should get the sale?

The market is getting complicated, and where loyalty should lie is not as clear as you make it seem, I'm afraid.