Wednesday, August 9, 2017
A small economics lesson
So when it comes to buying university textbooks on Amazon, you have to buy them out of season. The minute that university bookstores' book lists come out, every single Amazon seller jacks his price up so that there's almost no reason to buy from them.
But that's how "perfectly competitive" markets really work - the market leaders collude to set a high price, and then all the smaller sellers decide to follow their lead to maximize profit. I know, really that's an oligopoly, but in undergraduate economics they say you can't have oligopoly with a hundred sellers.
Anyway, so I had to buy my Metrics 2 textbook, and I know the book the prof wants to use, so I went online to find it before bookstore season.
Hey, someone's selling it for $70 CDN including delivery! That's cheap!
So I bought it.
#1, it's weird that it got to me in like 3 business days even though I only paid for standard shipping.
#2. stranger, it came from Malaysia.
#3, as it turns out, they sent me the "Global Edition". That's the edition released outside the US and Canada for students in third-world countries who would never pay $300 for a textbook because ffs you can buy a year's worth of rice for your family for that kind of money.
So should I return it?
Well, as an economics student, I know that a rational consumer should maximize his utility by profiting from price differentials across segmented markets. And the $200 I saved is worth a lot, utility-wise. So, according to undergraduate economics, I did the right thing and if they want me to send it back they can refund me 2 years of tuition for pumping me full of libertarian fantasy lies.
And the textbook can't be that much different, since it only costs $20 to print anyway, and the company wouldn't be keeping its third-world customers if they short-change them on educational content.
So fuck it! I don't owe the publishers anything at all, since they've fucked me over by charging 10x the production price for textbooks since forever. And since the government allows publishers to fuck me over by legalizing predatory pricing, I don't owe them any import/export law obedience either.