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Battle of the Books: Scroogenomics vs. Shoptimism

The holiday shopping season is already upon us, and just in time for the rush are two books centered on consumerism. With our purse strings at stake, we pit the reads against each other.

Battle of the Books: Scroogenomics vs. Shoptimism
Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays by Joel Waldfogel BOOK Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What by Lee Eisenberg
Buying presents sucks (duh). But it's also economically inefficient: People part with $66 billion each year, but the value derived from those reindeer sweaters and crappy candles is a mere fraction of that. IN A NUTSHELL Aided in part by technology, the sell side is only getting more manipulative, from brain scans measuring brand preference to mining zip-code-based psychographic data.
Dollars spent on gifts you're given produce 18% less satisfaction per dollar than dollars you spend on yourself. STAGGERING STAT Seventy percent of the items shoppers purchase are things they had no intention of buying when they entered the store.
Scroogenomics. Where Eisenberg's book is glib and meandering, Waldfogel's crackles with insight and intriguing stats. We're sold.

A version of this article appeared in the November 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.