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1 Hawthorne American Studies- General

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

by

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Atlantic correspondent Shell (The Hungry Gene) tackles more than just 'discount culture' in this wide-ranging book that argues that the American drive toward bargain-hunting and low-price goods has a hidden cost in lower wages for workers and reduced quality of goods for consumers. After a dry examination of the history of the American retail industry, the author examines the current industrial and political forces shaping how and what we buy. In the book's most involving passages, Shell deftly analyzes the psychology of pricing and demonstrates how retailers manipulate subconscious bargain triggers that affect even the most knowing consumers. The author urges shoppers to consider spending more and buying locally, but acknowledges the inevitability of globalization and the continuation of trends toward efficient, cost-effective production. The optimistic call to action that concludes the book feels hollow, given the evidence that precedes it. If Shell illuminates with sharp intelligence and a colloquial style the downside of buying Chinese garlic or farm-raised shrimp, nothing demonstrates how consumers, on a mass scale, could seek out an alternative or why they would choose to do so. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Odds are, you reached this review in one of two ways: by paying for a copy of today's print edition or by downloading it to a computer for free. It's the same text either way. So if you shelled out cash for a paper copy, do you feel you overpaid? If the story on your screen cost you nothing, do you worry that you should have paid something?

Your gut response may determine whether... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

An "Atlantic Monthly" correspondent uncovers the true cost--in economic, political, and psychological terms--of the West's penchant for making and buying things as cheaply as possible.

Synopsis:

A myth-shattering investigation of the true cost of America's passion for finding a better bargain

From the shuttered factories of the Rust Belt to the 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 with bargains is arguably the most powerful and devastating market force of our time, having fueled an excess of consumerism that blights our land­scapes, escalates personal debt, lowers our standard of living, and even skews of our concept of time.

Spotlighting the peculiar forces that drove Americans away from quality, durability, and craftsmanship and towards quantity, quantity, and more quantity, Ellen Ruppel Shell traces the rise of the bargain through our current big-box profusion to expose the astronomically high cost of cheap.

About the Author

Ellen Ruppel Shell is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Time, Discover, Seed, and dozens of other national publications. She is the author, most recently, of The Hungry Gene, which was published in six languages, and is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Knight Center for Science and Medical Journalism at Boston University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594202155
Subtitle:
The High Cost of Discount Culture
Author:
Shell, Ellen Ruppel
Author:
Ruppel Shell, Ellen
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Consumer Behavior - General
Subject:
Consumer behavior -- United States.
Subject:
Discount houses (retail trade)
Subject:
Industries - Retailing
Subject:
Consumer behavior
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20100629
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.48x6.42x1.09 in. 1.22 lbs.
Age Level:
17-17

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » American Studies » General
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » American Studies

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594202155 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Atlantic correspondent Shell (The Hungry Gene) tackles more than just 'discount culture' in this wide-ranging book that argues that the American drive toward bargain-hunting and low-price goods has a hidden cost in lower wages for workers and reduced quality of goods for consumers. After a dry examination of the history of the American retail industry, the author examines the current industrial and political forces shaping how and what we buy. In the book's most involving passages, Shell deftly analyzes the psychology of pricing and demonstrates how retailers manipulate subconscious bargain triggers that affect even the most knowing consumers. The author urges shoppers to consider spending more and buying locally, but acknowledges the inevitability of globalization and the continuation of trends toward efficient, cost-effective production. The optimistic call to action that concludes the book feels hollow, given the evidence that precedes it. If Shell illuminates with sharp intelligence and a colloquial style the downside of buying Chinese garlic or farm-raised shrimp, nothing demonstrates how consumers, on a mass scale, could seek out an alternative or why they would choose to do so. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , An "Atlantic Monthly" correspondent uncovers the true cost--in economic, political, and psychological terms--of the West's penchant for making and buying things as cheaply as possible.
"Synopsis" by ,
A myth-shattering investigation of the true cost of America's passion for finding a better bargain

From the shuttered factories of the Rust Belt to the 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 with bargains is arguably the most powerful and devastating market force of our time, having fueled an excess of consumerism that blights our land­scapes, escalates personal debt, lowers our standard of living, and even skews of our concept of time.

Spotlighting the peculiar forces that drove Americans away from quality, durability, and craftsmanship and towards quantity, quantity, and more quantity, Ellen Ruppel Shell traces the rise of the bargain through our current big-box profusion to expose the astronomically high cost of cheap.

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