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The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do Hardcover – January 4, 2011
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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
About the Author
Eduardo Porter has been on the staff of The New York Times since January 2004, covering economics, and joined the paper’s editorial board in July 2007. He began his journalism career in 1990 as a financial reporter for Notimex, the Mexican news agency, in Mexico City. He was a correspondent in Tokyo (1991-1992) and in London (1992-1996). In 1996, Porter was appointed editor of the Brazilian edition of América Economía, a business and economics magazine based in Sao Paulo. In 2000, he became senior special writer for The Wall Street Journal, based in Los Angeles, covering the Hispanic population in the United States. He is a graduate of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He has an MSc in quantum fields and fundamental forces from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London.
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I read about 1-3 books per week.
But, be that as it may; this is ONE of the few books I just couldn't finish.
It looks like a great idea, but the author jumps around a lot, and just touches on the surface of many topics.
I made it about 3/4 of the way through and I just got tired of wasting my time on this useless tripe when I could be reading something more pithy.
I can't imagine a better way to make a story from so many studies, statistics and numbers of all sorts.
That said, the prose is clear and concise, and the text covers a lot of areas. If you are interested in socioeconomics and want a general introductory text, this will provide a great introduction. But don't judge this book by its cover. And although I hate reviewers who do this, considering the title... this wasn't a $16 book, it should have been $10. It doesn't provide enough extra value to warrant the premium price.
By the end, you start to wonder exactly what "Mystery" the author was trying to solve. The book doesn't tell you the 'price of everything'. It merely tells you that everything has a price. But I already knew that.
The word "Price" in the book's context is a symbolic price, not the actual monetary unit as in marketing or business terms. So it's more like 'the price we pay for our actions', 'price of doing good', 'price of doing bad', etc..
For the most part, the book is a collection of very opinionated conclusions supported by some statistics.
While the book had some interesting parts, it's not as enjoyable to read as say, Malcom Gladwell's books. The author needlessly uses obscure vocabularies and awkward conjunctions to describe something very simple and trivial. He does this throughout the whole book. It felt almost as if the author chose to use such rarely used words just to boast that he knows them. This type of writing style results in very fragmented reading experience and takes lot of enjoyment out of reading.
I agreed with or was convinced by most of the book's arguments and assertions -- but even those who do not share some or all of Porter's viewpoints should find `The Price of Everything' a very enjoyable reading experience. I find most books on economics arcane, dogmatic, pedantic or plain dull, but this is not the case with Porter's opus prima. The writer has a knack for illustrating his arguments and opinions with highly accessible and interesting examples. In addition, he does so without sacrificing an iota of rigor in the analysis of his data and the development and presentation of his postulates.
In short, a book well worth reading.