Archive for the ‘Business’ Category


You Review: Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Reviewed by Oona Juutinen

Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much is about what the authors call a “science in the making”: the science of scarcity, the shortage or lack of something, and the effects it has on us. The book touches on so many topics that it’s simply impossible to sum it up shortly and the authors, Mullainathan and Shafir (an economist and a psychologist, respectively), have chosen to tackle several very big questions. Like why is it so difficult to fight poverty? And why do we keep doing things at the last minute? Amazingly enough, the explanations to both question have to do with scarcity.

In order to explore and and eventually explain the exact effects of scarcity, Mullainathan and Shafit introduce several new terms. One of them is “tunneling” – the intense focus created in our minds by the lack of something. Tunneling is the reason someone with financial trouble might not make the wisest decisions when trying to come up with the money to pay the next bills. It also explains the way we might completely neglect a project or a paper for weeks, only to finish it in one feverish flurry once time is about to run out. (Admit it, we’ve all been there.)

And though tunneling can momentarily pump up our productivity, it also harms us. Such a preoccupation in our mind “taxes our bandwidth”, making us unable to think of much else. This renders us less capable of seeing the big picture and thinking ahead. And so, in order to pay the next bill, the poor might take a loan with a too-high interest; the busy are likely to push other important projects aside in order to finish the one with the pressing deadline. Tunneling and taxed bandwidth make us all act in a shortsighted way.

Already the idea itself is fascinating, but the most important chapters of Scarcity are the ones where these concepts are connected to poverty and improving the lives of the poor. With their numerous examples Mullainathan and Shafir clearly illustrate how things like the poor taking ill-advised loans or performing worse in certain kinds of IQ tests are not caused by the poor being somehow less able, let alone stupid. Instead it’s a matter of scarcity: worrying about money has severely taxed their bandwidth and for the time being affected their cognitive capacities. So why are such things not considered when planning social programs? And could this failure be one of the reasons why poverty persists so?

Scarcity is very interesting in general, but it would be worth a read even for these chapters alone.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook of Scarcity available here.

ABC’s Gift Ideas: Biographies, Business/Finance/Law

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people.  And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject.  :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Biographies and Business/Finance/Law as picked out by section buyers Tom, Maarten and Jouke. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

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ABC’s Gift Ideas: For Companies

Friday, October 25th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. :-)

In this year’s  first post we will be highlighting books that we think might make great gifts for companies.  We have these titles available in large quantities, and some of them are even signed by the author from when they visited our store this year.

Our large quantity discount will apply, of course:

  • 10 – 19 copies (of 1 title) = 15% discount
  • 30 – 59 copies = 20% discount
  • more than 59 copies = 25% discount

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here, and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

Gift Ideas for Companies

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You Review: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Reviewed by Maaike Kleijn

I’m a bit of a feminist. More than a bit, actually. I’ve read my share of feminist classics (The Female Eunuch, Fear of Flying, Beyond Power: on Women, Men and Morals, and Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions to name a few), and was excited to start on this book. “Hurray!, I thought. “Feminism is alive! Here’s a book written by a girl my age!”

Starting Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, I wondered where Sheryl Sandberg found the time to write it.  She’s COO at Facebook, works 12 hours a day, she has two children (and a husband), and engages in a slew of extracurricular activities. I was impressed with her dedication to make this book happen. Where did she find the time?

Alas: the more I read, the less impressed I became. A good feminist book should make me angry, indignant, ready to take action. This book did none of that. I guess this is not a feminist book.

It’s mostly the story of Sheryl Sandberg’s own career, and the sexism she has encountered along the way. It’s not a very captivating story, and it’s not terribly well-written. The book is too long: Sheryl’s story has been stretched to almost 200 pages, where 90 would have been plenty. There are no new insights in this book, and I doubt if it is going to change anything for women in the workplace.

On a positive note: it is quite well-documented . When I finished Lean In there was an extensive list of acknowledgements, collaborators, editors, and co-writers in the back. Aha! So there’s how she found the time to make this book happen! I did learn one valuable thing: if you want to write a book, and you have little time, get others to help you (but put your own name on the cover).

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

This Just In: Business

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Five Recently-Arrived Titles from the Business Section:

Please be sure to contact our stores for an exact stock check!

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