On Friday morning I found a funny thing on halpricebooks.com. Our very own Erik Stolterman’s book for quite a few pennies over what I’d seen before…


I am a little bit short on blog posts, so I am going to attempt to explain to you all how we can tell “Almond Branch Books” out of  “New Hampton, NY” didn’t read Erik’s book, because from the one chapter I have read, this is the opposite of desiderata. It should be known, before we begin, this business is either A) incredibly typo prone, as all of their books listed are several hundred dollars, B) very bad appraising books (no offense to Erik) or C) laundering funds through a phony company. (After conversations with a friend who works at HPB, it looks like C is common and unfortunately, after a book is in someone’s possession they can charge whatever they want).

Desiderata includes aesthetics, ethics, and reason, or what we intend the world to be. Almond Branch Book’s (ABB) service design model is the design I will be critiquing. The company’s “felt need” to change of the listed book price to a grossly inflated number they desire is what Stolterman and Nelson refer to as a “dead end” as opposed to “next best steps”. They have dead ended themselves away from legitimate customers and entered into what can only be assumed as illegal activities in plain sight. “That-which-is-desired” or desireata is none of their concern.

The authors of The Design Way are wise. They know “desires are not all good… Over time, we learn to discipline the negative desires and live out the positive ones.” Possibly not enough time has passed for ABB to understand the difference between negative desire and positive ones. It would be a good idea for them to open the book of which they sell.

Later in the chapter, the authors state: “A created need is an imposed desire […] It is preformed and impressed upon a person in their role as consumer or end user, through persuasion or manipulation.” ABBs service design model is a clear manipulation of the online marketplace. The need for the book is obviously not successfully imposed on consumers, however if they were a laundering front, they are intending to look as though they do good business by blending into an online marketplace. A pedestrian consumer is definitely being performed and impressed upon.

The people of ABB should reconsider their service design model and actually get into an honest business. Hey, maybe they could actually sell books. As Stolterman and Nelson state: “…rather than allow our various problems to run our lives, we would be wise to approach the world from a design perspective and look to our desiderata for direction in our approach to intentional change.” The path to legitimacy is possible. If they desire to make more money than booksellers, they should look at their desire to make money and design an ethical  solution to their problem.

Here is the seller’ s page: http://www.hpbmarketplace.com/stores/2a0b1b3a. Also, it should be known that hpbmarketplace.com is much like Amazon, individual sellers manage their own pages. I happen to love HPB stores and this post should not be mistaken as a stab at them as a business.