Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Milk-Free Bookstore's Top Ten Bestsellers

Back in the early 1980s, about the time I acquired my first computer, I would sometimes visit a friend who was hip deep in the computer world. Computers of all sorts littered his living room so that you had to step around them to get to other side. On the other side was yet another computer. This was the one he would use for something he called ARPANet. Apparently he typed messages and other people read them. Or maybe something more than that. I couldn't understand why he did it or why he talked so enthusiastically about it. I paid no attention anyway, since he was wildly enthusiastic concerning everything he talked about.

Some of you are ahead of me already. ARPANet was the forerunner of what he now called the Internet. By the 1990s I was typing messages on my own computer for others to read. By 1997 I put up the first primitive version of a website I called Steve Carper's Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse. started in 1995 and became big enough to notice in 1997, when it made the news with its IPO. I started buying books there early on.

Then, as now, Amazon's search engine was bizarre, quirky, and frustrating. For example, make a one-letter typo in a name and enter it into Google, and Google helpfully asks you if you meant the correct spelling. Amazon still tells you that it finds no matches and gives you no clue why. Put in lactose free and you find one set of books. Dairy free gives you a second set. Milk free a third set. This drove me crazy.

Having more time on my hands than most of you, I set out to track down every book listed on Amazon that those of us who wanted a milk-free life - lactose intolerant, milk allergic, kosher, vegan, multiple allergy, celiac, galactosemic, etc. - might possible be interested in. This became The Milk-Free Bookstore. At first I found maybe 50 books. Today I list well over 200.

One day, while reading the New York Times Book Review, their top ten bestsellers list caught my eye. I had to wonder what my bestselling books were. The numbers were available so I set up a spreadsheet, counted every sale, and ten books popped up that were clearly outselling the rest. I thought that this would be a great way of informing people what were probably the most useful books to solve the different problems the people who come here had. I added The Top Ten Bestsellers page to my bookstore. Eventually I managed to squeeze sixteen books into the top ten.

I took a look at the page recently and noticed that it hadn't been updated for a while. OK, it hasn't been updated since 2005. I have a good reason, or at least one I can use in public. It's no coincidence that I had my stroke in 2005. That doesn't explain why I didn't update the page at the end of 2006 or 2007, but I've found that saying "stroke" is a universal get-out-of-explaining card. I'd advise everybody to have a mild stroke. If you get anything done at all, people look at you like a hero instead of a lazy slob. It's terrific. For us lazy slobs, at any rate.

Most of you are well ahead of me again. Yes, I've just gone back and put all my sales from January 1, 2006 through today into my spreadsheet. That created a brand new top ten. I'll be putting each title up over the next ten days.

The ten books are a great eclectic list. There are lactose free books, allergy books, dessert cookbooks, gluten-free cookbooks, vegan cookbooks. Something for everybody. I'm astounded at how the field has grown over the years. Life is a million times easier than it was when I learned I was lactose intolerant in 1978 and one - count 'em - one cookbook was available. Not a very good one, either, I'm sorry to say. No, it didn't make the list. I've never sold a single copy. People have purchased over 275 different titles through my website, though, so being in the top ten means that certain titles are special.

Find out which starting tomorrow.

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