1. Read a newspaper, magazine, journal, or internet book review. We won't mention Oprah here.
2. Go to Barnes & Noble, Borders, or a local bookseller, hold the book, read a chapter. Peek at the last page. If it the number at the top of the page is greater than 700, purse lips and sigh.
3. If you're going to read it or use it as end table dressing, and it's discounted, buy it. If it's not discounted, put the book back on the shelf.
4. Compare prices at bn.com, amazon.com, half.com, or my new favorite, fetchbook.info.
5. Order your book at the lowest price, including shipping.
No doubt that Amazon.com, like E-Bay, started a cultural revolution in the digital universe, and helped popularize and consumerize the internet more than that crusading internet pioneer of yesteryear, Al Gore. The company's employee #55, James Marcus, shares his five years of experience as a senior editor and book mini-reviewer, in Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut. Read Jonathan Yardley's Washington Post book review. From the article:
"...Marcus is right to say that 'as the Internet becomes more and more of a mainstream phenomenon, it's easy to forget just how much utopian baggage it used to carry.' The Internet has 'a transcendental capacity to shrink time and distance' and 'has ushered entire communities into being, and given a literal twist to the notion of kindred spirits,' and it was out of such notions that Amazon was born."
Read the Amazon.com mini-review here.