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BW Businessworld

The Cost Of Price

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The Price Of Everything (William Heinemann) is a worthy attempt by journalist Eduardo Porter to decode such motivations. The book has a simple premise: behind every decision lies a price. This decision could be as trivial as buying a cup of coffee or as critical as taking up a new job, becoming a partner or deciding to have a baby. Porter then works up analytics on price of life, price of happiness, price of work, price of culture and even price of women.

Porter tells us how we, as consumers, are often short-sighted and even inconsistent. Sometimes, people pay stratospheric prices for humdrum items as doing so proves that they can. The point of spending huge sums on useless trinkets is not merely to project an abstract notion of power. For Porter, it serves to signal one's fitness to potential mates. And how the value of the product does not live inside it, but is a subjective quantity determined by the seller and the buyer.

Porter is bold in his approach and scrutinises just about everything, making the book an extraordinary piece of work on price. His insights are thought-provoking and interesting. Porter even evaluates the price of free and uses the case of free information to establish how ‘free' can be damaging in long-term where he fears that free information will result in less creation of information products eventually.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 02-05-2011)