Wednesday, June 13, 2007

In which the Meridian briefly becomes a shill

In this morning's e-mail I received something from, an aggregate search engine that looks for the best prices on books, DVDs and music from various online merchants. I'd never heard of them before, so I decided to try them out.

It just so happened that a couple of days ago I had been searching Amazon for a copy of Julio Cortázar's "collage-book," Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, so I searched for this title on Bookprice. Here are the search results. Though it's distressing that such a fine book is out of print in English, it is good to learn that there are still sources for it and that many of them can undersell Amazon.

For something more contemporary, I searched for something I recently purchased from Amazon, Malian band Tinariwen's new album Aman Iman: Water Is Life. (More about this and other music in an upcoming post.) This search proved a bit confusing: it in fact produced three separate searches, each with the same title but with no indication as to what the differences were for these searches (book searches list differences such as hardback or paperback, publishers, etc.). At any rate, this is the link to the search result containing something like the price I paid. Given the album's recent release and the fact that, let's face it, the market for Malian music isn't a huge one, the number of purchase options isn't large--but the range in prices certainly is. This is useful to know, especially for import CDs and their generally-higher prices.

So anyway: even though I have an Amazon account (not that it's exactly a Niagara of revenue), I'll be posting a link to Booksprice over in the gutter, and I'd encourage you to use Booksprice to speed up price comparisons. I'll gain nothing from your doing so, by the way, except your happiness.

UPDATE: The following is an excerpt from an e-mail I just received from Lucy Orbach,'s webmaster. I'm including it because it addresses an issue I raised above, and it also would seem to indicate that they want the site to be useful for visitors.

About the results of the Aman Iman search. The difference between them is the origin of the cd: he first one is the national production and the other two are imported. One of the reason we are asking for people to post about us is because we are very interested in what our users think. For example, your post help us realize this lack of information which we will try to include on our search results page.

Thanks for your cooperation. We are constantly working on the development of our site and comments like yours help us a lot.


Pam said...

Good find - I'll definitely take a look (and Malian music - sounds fun, I'll look forward to the music post - I'm always looking for new things to listen to, especially when I have alot of writing to do).

John B. said...

Thanks for stopping by, first of all.
Just in case you wander back here . . .
It may be a day or two yet before the music post appears, so in the meantime I encourage you to have a look at a couple of old posts of mine to get a sense of what this music is like:

In retrospect, the Music from Mali post should have been more forthcoming with particulars, but that's the way it goes. That'll be something to revisit in the upcoming post, especially since, now, I have a better ear for what I'm listening to.

Pam said...

Cool, thanks. I'll take a look at these over the weekend.