11 February 2010

On "real prices"

Marginal Revolution | Tyler Cowen | Sentences to ponder

The topic is consumer protests over price hikes for eBooks and here is one response:
“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing,” said Douglas Preston, whose novel “Impact” reached as high as No. 4 on The New York Times’s hardcover fiction best-seller list earlier this month. “It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something.”
Here is the article; I giggled when I read that.
But the sense of entitlement of the American producer, I suppose that's totally justified?

There is no "real price" of anything.  There is only what a willing buyer and willing seller will agree on.

If Preston doesn't want to sell ebooks of his thrillers for $X then he is perfectly free to not sell them.  He isn't any more entitled to more than X than a reader is to get it for less than X.  Everyone wants to buy cheap and sell dear.  That's not a moral failing, that's not a peculiar condition of contemporary America, that's just how things are, how things have always been, indeed how things have to be.

Preston's arrogance has insured that I will never exchange any positive amount of currency for any of his books.  (Not that I was likely to in the first place.  Relic was a passable if silly beach thriller which I got for free.  I had no intention of ever spending money on his books, but now I'm sure I won't.)

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