Cheap

Cheap

The High Cost of Discount Culture

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
6
Rate this:

An Atlantic correspondent uncovers the true cost - in economic, political, and psychic terms - of our penchant for making and buying things as cheaply as possible

From the shuttered factories of the rust belt to the look-alike strip malls of the sun belt - and almost everywhere in between - America has been transformed by its relentless fixation on low price. This pervasive yet little examined obsession is arguably the most powerful and devastating market force of our time - the engine of globalization, outsourcing, planned obsolescence, and economic instability in an increasingly unsettled world.

Low price is so alluring that we may have forgotten how thoroughly we once distrusted it. Ellen Ruppel Shell traces the birth of the bargain as we know it from the Industrial Revolution to the assembly line and beyond, homing in on a number of colorful characters, such as Gene Verkauf (his name is Yiddish for 'to sell'), founder of E. J. Korvette, the discount chain that helped wean customers off traditional notions of value. The rise of the chain store in post - Depression America led to the extolling of convenience over quality, and big-box retailers completed the reeducation of the American consumer by making them prize low price in the way they once prized durability and craftsmanship.

The effects of this insidious perceptual shift are vast- a blighted landscape, escalating debt (both personal and national), stagnating incomes, fraying communities, and a host of other socioeconomic ills. That's a long list of charges, and it runs counter to orthodox economics which argues that low price powers productivity by stimulating a brisk free market. But Shell marshals evidence from a wide range of fields - history, sociology, marketing, psychology, even economics itself - to upend the conventional wisdom. Cheap also unveils the fascinating and unsettling illogic that underpins our bargain-hunting reflex and explains how our deep-rooted need for bargains colors every aspect of our psyches and social lives. In this myth-shattering, closely reasoned, and exhaustively reported investigation, Shell exposes the astronomically high cost of cheap.


Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9781594202155
159420215X
Branch Call Number: 381.149 SHELL E
Characteristics: xix, 296 pages ; 25 cm.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

s
stewstealth
Oct 24, 2016

An interesting look at the issues that exist with "discount culture" Well written and it is unfortunate that many people do not differentiate between cheap and value. Not sure there is any turning back but the book is well worth reading.

e
eastvanbookfan
Jun 07, 2013

I loved being forced to look into a mirror when I read books. I am fortunate enough to see myself in many of the issues this book explains. The author takes a bright flashlight, shines it into corners and the illumination causes a scattering of cockroaches scurrying away looking for a place to hide. Yet another title, where I hope I accept and re-orient myself based on realizing that if I am not going to be part of the solution, then I am part of the problem.....

m
MrMiyagi
Feb 07, 2013

Let's face it, mankind is doomed at its own hands.
I'm glad I will be dead in no more than 60 years.

b
Browncoat
Aug 24, 2012

I loved this book. It starts off explaining the history of bargain stores so we can see how companies like Wal-Mart and McDonalds came into existence and how they are able to keep their prices so low. We see the environmental damage that is happening across the world and the way that both workers and consumers are affected. If you don't know much about this topic, this book is a great place to start because it explains things in a way that is clear and easy to understand without talking down to the reader.

l
LeoK
Oct 12, 2010

anita's recommendation

h
HRuhl
Oct 16, 2009

I enjoyed this thoughtful book. It takes a consumer's perspective on market forces and explains why we, as consumers, often choose to act (seemingly) against our own self-interest.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at LPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top