Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review - Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy by Paco Underhill

Title: Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy
Author: by Paco Underhill
Year: 2004
Page: 240
Genre: Non-Fiction - Business

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the Library

Summary (from
Paco Underhill, the Margaret Mead of shopping and author of the huge international bestseller Why We Buy, now takes us to the mall, a place every American has experienced and has an opinion about. The result is a bright, ironic, funny, and shrewd portrait of the mall — America's gift to personal consumption, its most powerful icon of global commercial muscle, the once new and now aging national town square, the place where we convene in our leisure time.

It's about the shopping mall as an exemplar of our commercial and social culture, the place where our young people have their first taste of social freedom and where the rest of us compare notes. Call of the Mall examines how we use the mall, what it means, why it works when it does, and why it sometimes doesn't.

First Sentence:
Why are we here?

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I picked this because of a project I am working on, so I wanted to learn more about this topic. The author seemed to be an expert in retail.
First thought:
  • Interesting facts about shopping centers / malls!
Cover Art:
  • I liked that it is simple. The shopping bag handle is a nice touch.
  • I like that Non-Fiction books usually have a catchy title, then a subtitle to explain what it is about. Though I don't know if "Geography of Shopping" really captured the content. It was more like the Anatomy of the Mall?
  • Pretty easy to read. It was more conversation in style. 
  • The book was organized so that the author started off from the outside of the mall, the parking lot, then proceeded to go inside, and each chapter is about a certain area or aspect of the mall, e.g. food court, map/directory etc. Then the last chapter was back to the parking lot.
  • Some chapters were more interesting than others though... possibly because I was paying attention to the chapters more relevant to my project
  • The author had done a lot of research in retail so he came across as an expert but not overly know-it-all
  • The author's friends appeared in different chapter of the mall (some teenage girls when it talked about how teenagers shopped, a male friend when it came to buying jewelry etc.) It could get a little confusing because it seemed like he went to the mall alone to start with, then his friends just appeared out of nowhere. Hard to remember who-is-who
  • The last chapter was kinda cute, and a good tied in to the beginning of the book 
  • Didn't really feel emotional. It was kinda a fun read, even though I don't usually like shopping and go to the local mall maybe once a year or when necessary (thank you online shopping! Though too bad online clothes shopping don't usually work out too well...)
What I Learned:
  • Quite a few fun facts - about parking lots, parking lot signs, location of the stores, etc etc! I took some notes but hadn't had a chance to write them up yet... 
  • I think next time when I go to the mall I have to pay more attention to its design and layout!
Read this Author again?
  • Yes I plan to read his other retail books. Would I read them if I didn't have this project? Maybe not. But I think if you are a retail owner, it is worthwhile to read.

Overall Rating: 
3.5 Books - Learned a few things, but don't love it...

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