02 August 2007

Do not get Tyler Cowen's book for free

Tyler Cowen's new book is out today: Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist. He makes the following offer via Marginal Revolution: write him a paragraph explaining why you should get the book from him, for free. Tyler will mail free copies of the book to the top 15 commenters who meet his requirements. Some of the commenters articulate very clever reasons why they should receive the book for free, and some are less clever. Here is what I posted, in the spirit of yesterday's MGTW post on avoiding the accumulation of stuff:


You should definitely not send me your book, especially for free. Here's why: I will eventually read it via the local library, which is how I read all books. I never buy them, except for favorite novels and small paperbacks suitable for beach reading. Plus, decision theory seems to show that after any transaction involving exchange of money for goods/services, the purchaser places less value on a purchase that was cheap or free than on one that was expensive, and will be less likely to use/wear/read it. In other words, giving your book to anyone who would have read it anyway is a net loss -- they will undervalue it just because they got it cheap. You should only give it to people who already dislike it, if you must give it away. So please do not send it to me; I will be forced to return it so as not to lower my value estimate of what's in it.