Monday, October 10, 2005

Catalogues I Regularly Read

I thought I'd mention two catalogues that I actually read cover-to-cover whenever they arrive. I get plenty of catalogues that I file for when I need something (Mac stuff, cameras, fruit and nuts, hot sauces), and several that I throw away without opening. These two have a high enough hit rate that I actually page through the whole thing seeing what's interesting and new. I'm not going to mention things like Laissez Faire Books that everyone already knows about.

One is Levenger, "Tools for Serious Readers". They have furniture, innovative office supplies, stationary, carrying cases and more. I've probably purchased things from them a dozen times. Before the era of the Palm, I used their note cards and carrying case for my calendar, contact list, todos, etc. They have wonderful variations on paperclips, papercutters, and notepads that are the perfect answer to many minor problems. Their bags are well-designed (need a computer carrying case?), they have great side tables for books, as well as lap desks to make working in an easy chair more comfortable. They spend too many pages on fancy fountain pens, but their reading lights can't be matched in any of the lighting stores I've looked in over the years.

The other catalogue I read is Daedalus Books. They sell remainders, and seem to have good taste. I regularly find interesting history, science, occasionally science fiction, and general non-fiction. For many years, I carefully read all the pages of children's books looking for good new stuff to read to the nieces and nephews, but they're mostly past that age at this point. A few years ago, Ted Kaehler mentioned that he'd been reading a lot about the history of espionage in WW II, and I found that Daedalus had one or two of those most months, so I've been reading them as well.

When you know what you're looking for, searching on-line works well enough, but when you want someone to recommend things that you hadn't realized you needed, there's still no substitute for a paper catalogue. I can do a much more thorough job of perusing the pages of Daedalus than any book store or library I've ever been in, and I don't know of any stores that can change their inventory every month, or have as high a hit rate as Levenger.

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