thepurplebook: The Definitive Guide to Exceptional Online Shopping

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9780553382785: thepurplebook: The Definitive Guide to Exceptional Online Shopping

WE TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF ONLINE SHOPPING

Attention shoppers! Tens of thousands of Internet retailers are clamoring for your business, but you stand a greater chance of being struck by lightning than of finding the best online shops out there. Now get ready to be struck by lightning over and over again, because you hold in your hands the first edition of the most complete, authoritative guide to online shopping that has ever been available—thepurplebook™.

Here are more than 1,600 of the best Internet shopping sites— selected, tested, and organized for your information and convenience. Every site in this book has been poked, prodded, scrutinized, and held to a rigorous set of standards. For every store reviewed here, six or seven were left out because they simply were not up to par.

Those sites that are featured have demonstrated superior qualities of product selection, consumer service, and/or price, covering a full range of tastes and interests. thepurplebook, at long last, makes it easy to find the right something for yourself and everyone on your shopping list.

Find vital information and the most exciting sites for these essential categories:

Art & Collectibles
Charity
Entertainment
Epicurean
Gadgets & Electronics
Health & Beauty
Home & Garden
Lifestyles & Megastores
Maternity
Minors
Men’s Apparel
Pets
Seniors
Shoes & Accessories
Sports & Outdoors
Stationery & Gifts
Travel
Weddings
Women’s Apparel

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Frustrated by the seemingly random results generated by most Internet search engines, Hillary Mendelsohn decided to create a comprehensive resource to help online shoppers like herself, drawing on her experience as a busy professional and equally busy wife and parent.

With an education in literature and the law, Mendelsohn began her career in the entertainment industry, co-founding a management and production company before helping to spin off toys, apparel and other products from entertainment properties such as Terminator 2, Mortal Kombat and Baywatch at The Licensing Group in Los Angeles. A year later she launched her own consulting firm, Poetic Licensing, which has since brought its marketing expertise to such clients as Warner Bros., Franchise Pictures, Sega, Imax, and the Vatican.

Several years ago, Mendelsohn's first, late-night attempt at online shopping led her to a revelation — and a new venture. Having typed a "very specific" query into a search engine and received no less than 367 matches, she found that only seven had any relevance. With no available resource guide on the market, she began to create online shopping lists for herself. They proved popular among her friends. So popular, in fact, that Mendelsohn spent three years compiling the ultimate resource: thepurplebook.

As a religious user of guides such as Zagat, Mendelsohn began to create her own online shopping lists for herself, grouping entries into various categories such as Apparel and Collectibles. When her friends started asking for these lists, she realized there was nothing like this available and started to brainstorm a published guide, one that assessed Web sites and their products based on price, selection, uniqueness and convenience (e.g., Can an item be returned to a brick-and-mortar venue?). In June 2000, thepurplebook began to take form and it now will be published as a Bantam Trade Paperback in November 2003.

During the three years from its conception, Mendelsohn has personally researched more than 25,000 e-commerce sites across roughly 20 categories, culling more than 1,600 listings for the first print run of thepurplebook. As an arbiter of what qualifies she draws from the aforementioned criteria, as well as her discerning tastes and her experience as a busy mother of two.

"You won't find many of the sites listed in thepurplebook on the first ten pages of search engines, so how would you find them?" she says. "The Internet has the potential to offer busy people a way to get the most out of their time, and there are real bargains and unique items out there for the picking. It's a matter of finding just what you want, and that's what this resource guide is all about."

Hillary Mendelsohn is actively involved with several organizations including C.O.A.C.H. for kids, providing mobile medical treatment for low-income children through Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles; and is the executive director of FLASH, a safety and preparedness program newly launched in all of California's 8,000 public schools.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Foreword

thepurplebook
exists to provide consumers with an internet shopping directory that is at once comprehensive, objective, incisive, entertaining, reliable, easy-to-use and, above all, informative. It is our sincere hope that the sites listed within these pages will offer some of the best online shopping experiences available, and that our humble book will contribute in some small way to the many conveniences and advantages of e-commerce.

In years to come, we plan to continually improve the book with updated editions, so as to expand and improve our unique collection, both with the addition of new sites and the inclusion of new categories. Hopefully, by cultivating the awareness of discerning shoppers, our books will encourage existing sites to better serve the online shopping population, and we welcome this growth. We believe that the American economy is best served if a wide variety of large and small businesses can fairly compete on a national and global level, and with thepurplebook our intention is not only to bring the best available products and services to deserving consumers, but to direct customers to deserving retailers as well.
Introduction

Have you ever actually tried to find a needle in a haystack? Of course not. The expression only exists to highlight the futility of such pursuits. And yet, every day, tens of millions of people turn to web search engines to help them find the information and merchandise that interests them most. However, suppose you enter a query for the word ‘needle’ on the internet’s most powerful search engine. The resulting list features more than 1,200,000 online pages to sort through.

Welcome to the world wide web. With more than one billion pages already, and that number expected to double each year, it’s no longer just a matter of finding the needle; the problem is finding the right haystack.

It gets worse. If you type in ‘shirts,’ you get almost four million responses. ‘Wine’ gets you nearly six million. Type in ‘gifts,’ and you will be presented with more than seven million pages, each of which might contain what you’re looking for, if you’re willing to take the time to find it....
WE TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF ONLINE SHOPPING

thepurplebook is the solution to your search engine woes. The way we see it, why waste valuable time looking for an online shop, then waste more time looking for the item you want to purchase, only to discover that you shouldn’t have bothered in the first place? Isn’t the promise of the internet that it has the power to make our lives both easier and more efficient? Then why must we spend entire afternoons scouring through dozens or hundreds of web sites instead spending that time at the beach?

We spent over a year cataloging and reviewing every e-commerce site we could track down, whether we found out about it through search engines, advertisements, links from other web sites, community bulletin boards, magazine articles or word of mouth. Of the tens of thousands online stores we discovered, we had to toss a few out for being detrimental to humanity. The rest we subjected to our own rigorous set of standards, scrutinizing each aspect of the site: Is it easy to use? Does it have a good selection? Are the prices good? Will it download in less than an hour?

By the end, we’d whittled down the selection to include only the finest catalogs, the most beautiful web designs, the best bargains and that occasional ingenious purveyor of a product or service of such unique charm that we couldn’t possibly leave it out. Our final tally includes brick-and-mortar stores that have established a viable online presence, manufacturers who have done the same, internet juggernauts that have managed to survive the dot-com backlash, and small businesses, often individuals working out of their bedrooms, who’ve embraced the virtual marketplace in their pursuit of the American Dream. It’s a pretty good bunch, capable of fulfilling nearly any online shopping need you may have, and possibly turning you on to something new.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT...

All of these sites we have assembled into a single collection, printed on actual, as opposed to virtual, pages, indexed and split up into several categories to correspond with the nation’s most common shopping needs, as follows:
ART & COLLECTIBLES
Whether you want to bid on the original master works of the century, poster your dorm room or add to your collection of kitsch, we have the online tools to help dress your surroundings in any mode, medium or era, across all price ranges.

ENTERTAINMENT
Whatever your tastes, we have a listing for just the sort of music, movie or book you may want to find, whether you’re seeking old (records, print, video) or new (CD, eBook, DVD) formats. Or, if you prefer a less passive pastime, you can find plenty of puzzles and games, as well as tickets to live performances/events.

EPICUREAN
Named for the sensuous embrace of luxurious living, this section features stores dedicated to grocery items, gourmet foods, vintage wines and fine cigars. While there’s an obvious disparity between listings for health food and tobacco products, we have to figure that it all balances out.

GADGETS & ELECTRONICS
Improving life from the outside in, this category includes computer hardware and software, along with a lengthy list of electronics for your home or pocket, whether the aim is to enjoy music or hold conversations over great distances. Then there are the whimsical, non-electric devices that can accomplish stuff bare hands just never could.

HEALTH & BEAUTY
All the convenience of a corner drug store, and all the glamour of a high-priced salon; in this section, you will find the pills, dressings and ointments it takes to keep your body healthy, as well as all the cosmetics, cleansers and fragrances you favor to keep yourself looking and feeling beautiful.

HOME & GARDEN
From home improvement to making your garden grow, this section comes complete with listings to help furnish any room in the house or landscape your grounds with flowers, latticework and even bodies of water.

LIFESTYLES & MEGASTORES
These are stores that don’t fit the mold. Any of them might offer everything you want to buy in a single location. Some cater to a specific lifestyle or interest you may have, while others have simply assembled a smattering of random merchandise. Either way, the benefits of these shops include wide selections and the optimization of shipping charges.

MATERNITY
Between special equipment and expert advice, the primary focus of this section has the health of parent and child in mind. On the other hand, a thorough selection of fashionable clothing will help show off the radiance of impending motherhood during nine months of changes. You’ll have to see the Epicurean section to satisfy any odd food cravings, though.

MEN’S APPAREL
Clothes for any event, style or day of the week make for easy browsing with this list of man-friendly stores. If the appropriate dress involves a tie, no problem. If jeans are better suited to the activity, find them here. Whether the aim is to impress a woman, satisfy the boss or while away the days in comfort, you can find your threads in the best way possible: fast.

MINORS
From infants on through teens, this section caters to children, whether you’re doing the shopping for them or they’re picking things out themselves. Most likely, toy stores will be at the top of their lists, while parents might prefer the clothes or educational opportunities, any of which span a range of prices and interests.

PETS
For the animals with the greatest owners, these sites cover all the basics, like food and hygiene, and even manage to include a lot of indulgences, ranging from toys to furniture and even some clothing. A healthy, happy pet is a cinch, whether it walks, flies, crawls, swims or trots.

SENIORS
The tools and products to be found in this section address the lifestyle changes typically faced by those over the age of 55. Most prominently featured are items that promote independent living, whether by combating the symptoms of a particular physical ailment, or by increasing access to the world of technology.

SHOES & ACCESSORIES
True style includes every part of the body, from head to toe. With this in mind, this section offers everything from hats to shoes, alongside some jewelry, watches and eyewear, with handbags and wallets to stow it all in. Whatever the accoutrements, men and women alike will find some great ones here.

SPORTS & OUTDOORS
Physical lifestyles get more active with less effort thanks to these online shops devoted to home gyms, athletic equipment and outdoor gear. Whether you intend to trounce the competition, camp high up in the stratosphere or pursue your own body’s limits, these listings will help.

STATIONERY & GIFTS
The Stationery portions of this section feature anything from personalized letterheads to invitations and greeting cards, while the Gifts that are offered include standards like flowers, baskets and confections, with a few innovative ideas thrown in for those tough-to-shop-for special occasions.

TRAVEL
Get out of town. Better yet, do it with ease and comfort. Here you can find several different means of booking flights, hotel rooms, car rentals and any other kind of accommodation you might require on your travels. Better still, outfit yourself with the right clothes, luggage and other gear that’ll make getting there nearly as fine as being there.

WEDDINGS
Making the most important day of your life a little easier to plan, these sites can help you establish the costuming, invitations, decorations and catering that may mean the diff...

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