Cheap by Ellen Ruppel Shell
The High Cost of Discount Culture

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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 Ellen Ruppel Shell

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Ellen Ruppel Shell is a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly magazine 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. She is a professor of journalism at Boston University, where she codirects the graduate program in science journalism.
 
Published July 2, 2009 by Penguin Books. 332 pages
Genres: Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cheap

Kirkus Reviews

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This view was largely undone by pioneering merchants such as John Wanamaker (of Philadelphia department-store fame) and Eugene Ferkauf (of Korvette’s), as well as the post–World War II emergence of a particularly acquisitive consumer culture that, as John Kenneth Galbraith grumbled, nursed a batt...

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The New York Times

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Correction: July 23, 2009 The Books of The Times review on July 6, about “Cheap,” by Ellen Ruppel Shell, and “Free,” by Chris Anderson, referred incompletely to experiments involving chocolate conducted by Daniel Ariely and cited in the books.

Jul 05 2009 | Read Full Review of Cheap: The High Cost of Disco...

The New York Times

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Ellen Ruppel Shell has been studying the price, the value and the cost of things — all sorts of things, bookcases and summer dresses and plastic wrap and key chains and tube socks and hammers.

Jul 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Cheap: The High Cost of Disco...

The Washington Post

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.

Jul 26 2009 | Read Full Review of Cheap: The High Cost of Disco...

PopMatters

Try too hard or too often, and the particle board crumbles… In a very real sense, [it] is not a bookcase but a subspecies of bookcase: a cheap bookcase.” It’s plain that the Ikeas and Wal*Marts of the world have pulled a fast one on their customers by luring us in with prices that are literally t...

Sep 10 2009 | Read Full Review of Cheap: The High Cost of Disco...

Look At OKC

Before Shell leads us on a self-deprecating tour of an outlet mall, where "original” prices often are inflated to shift shoppers’ point of reference, we learn that outlet malls also rely on a quirk of neuroscience: It turns out the brain’s pleasure sensors respond more to anticipating a bargain t...

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Story Circle Book Reviews

We may think that we are getting a bargain shopping at discount stores, but Ellen Ruppel Shell gives a well-researched and convincing argument that quality trumps bargains.

Feb 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Cheap: The High Cost of Disco...

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