“Cheap”, by Ellen Ruppel Shell

Cheap by Ellen Ruppel Shell
Cheap by Ellen Ruppel Shell

The book “Cheap, The High Cost of Discount Culture” by Ellen Ruppel Shellis is made of two different parts. The first part analyses low prices from the psychological and cognitive point of view. Why we are attracted by low prices? how we react? and so on. The second part analyses the reason for cheap prices, the implications, and the costs. The two parts are loosely connected. The impression, as reder, is to switch to a different book by a different author. While the first part tries to provide an objective and scientific perspective of the problem, the second part is taking a very strong position. While I agree with most of the ideas proposed by the book I’m a bit uncomfortable with this unusual way of mixing opinions and data.

The book is also ignoring the price mechanism and the psychology of online sales and prices. Ellen doesn’t even try to analyze the differences between the traditional buying process and the new, and I assume different, online process. As a professional working in the e-commerce field, I purchased this book hoping to find exactly this type of analysis. I also believe the psychological mechanisms activate by the online shopping and purchasing (e.g. on Amazon.com) are different from the mechanism governing the traditional retail shopping and purchasing (e.g. Walmart).

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