By Peter Schlesinger
October 17, 2013
Credit: Bargain Fever by Mark Ellwood, Courtesy of Penguin

A new book about the global fascination with bargain hunting by frequent T+L contributor Mark Ellwood hits shelves today, giving valuable and often hilarious insights into the changing landscape of secret sales, online shopping, and good old haggling.

Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World focuses mostly on the recent surge in U.S. discounting—sales of sales have more than doubled in under a decade here—but it also takes readers to the bazaars in Istanbul and the megamalls in Tokyo.

Ellwood's inspiration for the book occurred when he saw shoes on sale for 50 percent off just days after he had purchased them for 10 percent off. “I got the sense that no matter what I was paying, there was always a way to pay less,” he explains. “The more I looked into it, I realized I was falling down a half-price rabbit hole.” Bargain Fever is the result of his deeply researched quest to find out why and how that “rabbit hole” came to be.

The book is more of an investigation into the discount phenomenon rather than a “how-to guide” as the subtitle suggests, although one chapter does focus on several fail-safe methods to find markdowns. Readers will learn why there's never a need to pay full retail price for any product. They'll also walk away with more than a handful of useful tips—such as where to find the best deals in Istanbul (hint: it's not the Grand Bazaar).

Bargan Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World is published by Portfolio/Penguin, and is on sale today. Follow the author at: @markjellwood

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.