THE BIG SELL by Pierre Berton


Email this review


While presenting itself as a scholarly assessment of assorted con game and sales techniques, The Big Sell is a pretty hilarious work. Covered are sheet music vanity publish ers, encyclopedia salesmen, mail-order companies, outright sharpsters, the hardheaded salesman, and all the purveyors of sincere fairy stories by which you ""take advantage"" of the weaknesses of big helpless companies and little helpless people in your neighborhood. Indicative of modern sales psychology is the sincere, personally mimeographed or off-set form letter which eventually strings itself out into a series of twelve to twenty personal letters-- mimeographed especially for you--with, apparently, a thousand copies kept on file. Now, as you can guess, REAL sincerity is Frowned Upon. The mooch would be upset. It is discouraged in any hard-sell campaign. SINCERITY is DISASTER! Salesmen, the author discovers, prefer to operate out of a sense of Mutually Acceptable Fraud--you and I are going to Cheat the Company! This, it turns out, is a fairy tale--the fairy tale the salesman himself has accepted from a higher fairy-tale salesman in an ascending structure of fairy-tale salesmen, right up to the God Who hands down to us a leather-bound, illustrated Bible for the price of a platinum can opener. This book is a revelation and contains lists of ways to deal with can men and sales artists, to show that you are NOT a Mooch, Mark, Egg, Sucker or Patsy. Much FUN.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1963
Publisher: Knopf