Summary of Cheap

The High Cost of Discount Culture

Penguin Group (USA), more...

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Cheap book summary
The passion for cheap items sticks shoppers with shoddy goods, leaves workers with low pay and creates long-term problems.


9 Overall

8 Applicability

9 Innovation

9 Style


Science journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell offers many insights in this terse, but engaging overview of the discount industry, starting with the image of shoppers browsing mindlessly through discount store aisles filled with shoddy merchandise. Her mix of history, economics and psychology delivers a disturbing portrait of the discount industry from the industrial era to the present day. Some of her examples and arguments are repetitive or simplistic, but after reading this book, you’ll think twice about every price tag or special promotion. Shell, who acknowledges that she is a bargain hunter, too, never gets preachy. Instead, she prompts you to examine the hidden financial, political, environmental and global costs of the discount culture. Many so-called bargains are not good value, and shoppers pay extra tolls in wasted time and resources. getAbstract recommends Shell’s treatise to shoppers, economists and executives in the retailing and manufacturing industries.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the discount retail industry developed,
  • What deceptive pricing tactics many discount retailers use to reach into your wallet,
  • How discount stores have changed the US and global economies, and
  • How cheap merchandise carries hidden costs.


Attention Shoppers
Bargain hunting is a bottomless shopping bag for many consumers. The quest for bargain sales and deep discounts often reflects a deeper individual desire for economic control. In the shopping aisles, scoring great deals seems like the way to gain victory points in the...
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About the Author

Ellen Ruppel Shell is a contributing editor and correspondent for The Atlantic. She is also a science journalist, professor and co-director of the science journalism graduate program at Boston University.

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    Lism Inc 6 years ago
    Not much retail information that I didn't know about, however from a historic standpoint it's interesting.

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