Business journalist and New York Times editorial writer Porter delivers a popular explication of how supply and demand affect prices. In vignettes about all manner of transactions, from coffee sales to marriage dowries to home values, he disputes notions that prices settle out as rational correlations of supply and demand. All sorts of emotional factors are involved, which enliven Porter’s stories as he explores divergent behaviors of upper-, middle-, and lower-income consumers in what they will pay for something. If a purchase expresses the pursuit of happiness, Porter chases the idea that money yields joy, concluding it can, though temporarily. What about the price of power? Porter adduces the cost of votes in São Tomé v. the United States, as he does the worth of labor, love, and life itself, practically breaking them down into a schedule of prices. As a book in which nothing, not even religion, seems safe from the crass intrusion of pricing, Porter’s work ought to ring up the audience for Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics (2005). --Gilbert Taylor
"Porter's book is an enthralling look at the prices we put, consciously and unconsciously, on everything from a gallon of gas to a spare kidney. Everyone could learn something from this wise and clever book. I did."
-Tim Harford, Financial Times, author of The Undercover Economist
"Everything in the world comes with a price, but what does a price mean and how is it set? This riveting narrative is the best book on these very human and very important questions. There is an interesting nugget on virtually every page."
-Tyler Cowen, co-author of the Marginal Revolution blog
"A fascinating journey through what we see every day-but do not think about enough. Eduardo Porter makes you think hard about the corporate interests at work behind the veil of prices (and much more). Just because people are willing to pay does not mean that the price is right-in any sense of the word."
-Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers and professor of entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management