Want to buy Go books? Why we’re opening a Go book shop

People who visit our site regularly might have already noticed our new Go shop – where you can buy Go books and have them posted to you worldwide. As of June 23, 2011 we’re announcing it publicly.

Why we’re opening a Go book shop

A shelf of well-loved Go books - these ones aren't for sale, we only sell new books.

I’d like to share our plans with you and explain what we’re trying to do here. Hopefully you’ll be able to share some of our excitement.

As Go players, we all wish that more people played Go, right? Imagine being able to go down to the local pub, coffee shop or even Go club and have a casual game of Go whenever you felt like it. Wouldn’t that be something? Well in a small number of countries you can do that.

Nearly everywhere else in the world we’re such a long way away from that reality, that many people think it’s not achievable.

It may not be achievable now, but we believe that one day it will happen. One of the most important things we can all do for the game is to teach it to more people and help existing players get better at Go. Go Game Guru was started with this purpose in mind.

Introducing more people to Go

We’re happy with the results so far, because it seems like this website is really helping people and lots of people are taking our new Go course for beginners. However, this is just the beginning. We hope to be able to take things further and introduce Go to many people who have never even heard of the game yet.

Clearly if we could raise some money to help raise the profile of Go, we could promote the game more effectively. One way of doing this, would be to ask for donations. We don’t want to do that though. Why?

Why we don’t want to ask for donations

There are already many Go Associations around the world that promote Go within their country and are funded by members. In fact, Go has got to where it is today, because of the hard work of many dedicated people around the world.

If we tried to duplicate this model, we’d essentially become a de facto Go Association. Having been personally involved in a Go Association for many years, I know how frustrating it is trying to promote Go with very limited resources.

There are some things that can never be done at the moment, because nobody has the money to do it effectively. For example:

  • Advertising for Go, both online and offline
  • Public relations campaigns and media releases that actually get into the mainstream media
  • Funding important Go projects that don’t make any money, but are still worth doing.

Building a business that promotes Go

So Younggil and I decided to experiment with a different approach. What if you could build a business around introducing Go to new players and fund it by selling quality products that Go players actually want or need? It’s a nice theory isn’t? It’s also an untested one.

Will it work?

I’m sure that opinions will be divided about whether this will work or not. I know some of you are sitting there right now thinking, ‘that’s a crazy idea and it will never work!’. Meanwhile, some of you are nodding and thinking, ‘that’s a great idea, it’s going to be awesome!’. The only way to find out for sure is to try it.

Books, books and more books!

We’ve often said that starting this site was an experiment. Thanks to the fantastic support of many of you who told people about this site, it’s grown to where it is today. Now we’re ready to start stage two of the experiment.

Of course, we’re not that crazy. So we’re trying to do this in a way that isn’t too risky. As Go players you’d expect nothing else, right?

That’s why we’re opening the shop with a limited number of books on offer and providing free worldwide shipping for a limited time, to make sure we test this idea effectively.

Do you want to buy Go books

If you’ve been thinking about buying Go books for awhile, head on over to the Go shop to see what we’re offering.

Of course, if you’re just curious, you’re welcome to go and browse too. If you want to help support what we’re doing, but can’t make up your mind, here are some of my personal favorites. I recommend these books to friends all the time:

For beginners

Go: A Complete Introduction to the Game

Graded Go Problems for Beginners

For intermediate players

Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go


Attack and Defense

What do you think?

I’d love to hear what you think about this. Questions, comments, advice, warnings and ideas are all welcome.

About David Ormerod

David is a Go enthusiast who’s played the game for more than a decade. He likes learning, teaching, playing and writing about the game Go. He's taught thousands of people to play Go, both online and in person at schools, public Go demonstrations and Go clubs. David is a 5 dan amateur Go player who competed in the World Amateur Go Championships prior to starting Go Game Guru. He's also the editor of Go Game Guru.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. While reading this article, the warning that came to mind was shipping costs. And then the keywords appeard: “free worldwide shipping”. ^_^

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks Mikong. Yes, shipping is tricky and we decided free worldwide shipping would make things easier for everyone at this stage. I’m glad you agree.

  2. Muy buena idea, mucha suerte!

  3. Flandre says:

    I think it would be useful to talk with Alexander Dinerstein about Go-business, because he has some experience in this field. His last project – insei league on KGS – is running for 1,5 years, I think we can call that success.
    Important point is why you think your shop will be better than others. Best way to stand out is offering something unique, unique service and/or unique produce. In example, there are very few books about endgame. You can get some korean books with endgame problems, translate most important parts (or not; sometimes everything is clear without translation) and sell them. It will be advantageous for your rivalry with other book shops.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks for the ideas Flandre. I agree that we can learn a lot from other businesses. I’ll put endgame books on my list.

  4. What about selling korean go books?I think the idea is an interesting one,since there are a lot of relatively strong players looking for asian books either for tsumego,pro games reviews or tactical views.Many books are are to find in the west but are very useful (for exemple,the lee changho series of books).With Younggil,maybe would it be possible?So it’s just an idea I wanted to submit^^Hope it will be working well,I cheer for you!

  5. Ryan Smith says:

    I wanted to second flo’s idea. As a mid-dan player most of the books you’re selling (or in English for that matter) are a bit on the easy side. They say that Go is a universal language, and certainly tsumego books are readable without knowing much Korean / Chinese / Japanese. Its hard to buy Asian language tsumego books online without speaking the language; it would be very helpful Younggil put forward a couple books and how hard he thinks they are. This would probably be a low volume item, but I think there would be a market never the less.

    Best of luck with your store and thanks so much for writing this blog.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Flo and Ryan, thanks for your comments. It’s very helpful to hear which books people want. We’ll also be running a survey soon. We always wanted to be able to stock foreign language books, but had to test the shop concept first. Since the shop is doing well so far we’re going to expand the range soon. 🙂

  6. ZhanZongru says:

    Nowadays, more and more people are buying books in electronic format and read them on iPad,iPhone,kindle and such devices. I hope you have put these in your considerations. And besides books, maybe go software would also be listed on the shelves.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks Zongru, good ideas. We have to start small and grow later. We are starting off with Go books, later we can try some of your other ideas.

  7. It has nothing ot do with the subjet of the article, but do you think that you HAVE to study Go at an early age to become a pro player ?

    I’m 18 and I’m interested in Go. I’m not that good at all but I have a rather competitive spirit so I found interesting to ask it !

    Thx in advance ! =)

    • David Ormerod says:

      Neko, learning Go at an early age does help, but I don’t think 18 is too old for you to become a very good player. I was older than that when I started learning.

      If you want to become a professional player, it’s a slightly different proposition, but really to become a pro you have to become a top amateur first. It depends on how much time you want to put into it more than anything else.

      Keep learning and enjoy yourself and you will improve quickly. Once you become a good player you can decide whether you still want to become a pro.

  8. Thanks for the answer !

    I’m looking forward to the books ^^

  9. Max Latey says:

    I really like the idea of being able to buy Korean or Chinese language books – particularly when they’re all “black to play”.

    If a simple crib sheet is available, either with the book or on this web-site, they’d be quite readable e.g. kill unconditionally, ko is a failure, etc.

    There are some big gaps in the english literature which are unlikely to be filled, particularly at the upper end of play due to the lack of strong english speaking players (for now at least).

    If you’d like some ideas on promoting Go, David Mitchell did a fair bit of promotion in the UK in the 70’s and has some good ideas – playing non-stop for 24hrs in a shop window was a good one and got press coverage at the time! Might be worth re-visiting..

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks for the ideas Max and good to see you here :). I’ll look forward to talking to you and David Mitchell next time I see you at a tournament. If we’re going to try to run this as a business it will take time to build up enough cash flow to get all the books that people want, but it is part of our plan. Younggil and I are keen on getting books like that too.

  10. Last week a documentary about Bobby Fisher was on one of our TV channels. After watching it, we wondered where and why chess’ popularity in the West went into decline. It has: in the 70s people were watching Fischer-Spasski on the streets. In the 80s everybody was taking sides in the Karpov-Kasparov rivalry. And in the 90s we were all thrilled by the contest between Kasparov and Deep Blue.

    Big stories are the answer: in the 70s chess was associated with the cold war and how one singular genius could rise out of (liberal) nowhere to defeat the product of a (communist) system. In the 80s Kasparov stood for Glasnost and Perestrojka. And in the 90s it was all about humans against machines.

    In Go too, the big rises in popularity stem from a source unrelated, something that goes deeper than the mere struggles in the game itself. When Go Seigen revolutinized the Go World, his Chinese origin was due as much as his modern ideas that broke with the stubborn traditions. Korea went crazy about Go when Lee Changho first beat his baduk-father, then went on to dominate the international scene, wiping out the representatives of arch-enemies China and Japan.

    In the Western world, Go will only experience a major uprising when a Westerner starts beating the Chinese top players, and that in the light of an increasingly important political rivalry between the West and China. Another possibility is for Go to fill the vacuum left by Chess when the research for Artificial Intelligence lost its popular goal to become good at “the hardest game on earth”.

    I don’t think a book shop can achieve anything significant in that respect, but I of course sympathize with your efforts to set up mutual benefits for yourself and the rest of the Go world.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Hi Dieter,

      Thanks for the interesting perspective on history. You’re right of course that big stories like that help a lot. I find it hard to agree with your conclusion that “Go will only experience a major uprising when a Westerner starts beating the Chinese top players” though.

      There’s always more than one way to play the game, and while a single book shop by itself won’t achieve that much, it’s just a small part of an overall plan. And we’re not the only player.

      Are you sure you’re not mistaking mere tactics for strategy?