Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture Summary

The SQUEEZE: America’s passion for finding the best bargain and its relentless fixation on low price has contributed much to the excess of consumerism. It is this problem that Ellen Ruppel Shell believes has escalated personal debt, lowered the standard of living, and blighted the American landscape. In Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, Shell examines the mindset of Americans driven away from quality and craftsmanship to quantity and more of it. Shell charts the rise of the concept of bargain for the purpose of exposing the high cost of cheap. By studying the price, value, and cost of different types of things, Shell concludes that the downside of embracing the bargain contributes to the sacrificing of quality. Americans receive essentially a diluted value, inferior product, but for a bargain.

Notable Endorsement: "This highly intelligent and disturbing book provides invaluable insight into our consumer culture and should be mandatory reading for anyone trying to figure out our current financial mess. As Shell proves, the hunt for cheap products has hurt us all. Highly recommended for smart readers." -Library Journal


Common Q’s Answered by this Book:

  • How has embracing the bargain contributed to the escalation of personal debt?
  • What is America’s personal fixation with low price?
  • What is the true cost of excessive consumerism?

About the Author: An America journalist and correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, Ellen Ruppel Shell is a professor of science journalism at Boston University. Shell's research interests include discovering the intersection between science and society with a special emphasis on medical policy. Shell writes on the politics of science, science and the media, and environmental policy. Shell completed a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester in 1974.

Book Vitals:

Publisher: Penguin Books (June 2010)

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