Saturday, August 31, 2013

Buy this Book for Beginners Plus

Sometimes I'm asked if I am going to write a third edition* of Fair Trade: A Beginner's Guide.  Certainly some of the data, originally researched in 2005 and 2006, could use updating.  Definitely some of the actors in the movement have changed, both additions and deletions. New issues have come to the forefront, as have the voices of producer and consumers.  Part of me felt that I needed to find the time and space to write an update to do the movement justice.

With the recent release of Dr. Keith R. Brown's Buying Into Fair Trade: Culture, Morality, and Consumption, I now feel guilt free.  Our books are distinctly different in that Keith (transparency alert: a friendly colleague) is a trained sociologist who bases his book on ethnographic research.  But if you want a comprehensive primer about how fair trade came to be, why it is important, and what are its strengths and weaknesses--plus an analysis of consumer behavior--this book is for you. 

Don't get me wrong.  I feel like my book still makes a contribution, and ideally the two would be a great pair.  But if you have to choose one, buy Keith's book for fresh perspectives and academic insights into the movement and the marketplace.

The timing is right for me personally, as I leave my professional role in the fair trade movement to address hunger issues domestically as Executive Director of Manna Food Center.  I won't have access to the best information and analysis in the movement so consider following Fair Trade Chronicles for insights and stories. 

Thanks for all of you who have purchased the 8,000 or so copies of my book.  Better yet, to those of you who passed them on or ordered copies for the local library.  I'll always be a fair trader at heart, and it is a deep satisfaction to know I have had a small role to play in making trade fairer for those producers who struggle to build community and use their skills and talents to create the products that fill my daily life.

* Fair Trade and How It Works is a second, hard cover edition that features a few minor revisions made in 2010.


  1. I am one of the 8,000 who bought your book! It has really helped me to wrap my head around Fair Trade; it really is a complex movement. I've even started my own blog and am going to open my own cafe and gift shop one day. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, and good luck!