Read This Book: William Poundstone’s PRICELESS – THE MYTH OF FAIR VALUE


By web gangsta | Published:

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value

William Poundstone is one of Web Watch’s favorite writers, having written many books around the same theme of exposing various ways that professionals (magicians, street crooks, carnies, casinos, etc) lie, cheat, and steal their way into your wallet.  

Some of Mr Poundstone’s books that you may already be aware of include:

All are great reads and lots of fun.

And now Mr Poundstone adds to his roster with PRICELESS – THE MYTH OF FAIR VALUE AND HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.   Have you ever wondered why retail outlets (and iTunes) use the $0.99 pricing model?  That is, why are things priced at one penny below the next full dollar amount – $3.00 vs $2.99?  It’s not because the retailer is giving up that penny of profit – it’s because that number by the dollar sign is the only one that customers bother to look at. 

And that’s just one of the topics that are covered in the book.  Why supermarkets are designed the way they are and how they decide where on the shelves to place product – it’s in there.  Why the successful retail stores at the mall are designed in a counter-clockwise manner, with the cash register on the left side of the store – it’s in there.   And how RESTAURANTS DESIGN MENUS TO ENCOURAGE DINERS TO CHOOSE CERTAIN THINGS OFF THE MENU, including:

  • Placing high-end items in the upper right-hand corner of the menu, where diners typically read first
  • Placing similar, but slighly less-expensive items nearby makes those items appear to be indulgent bargains by comparison.
  • Restaurants don’t often list prices in straight columns, as it encourages diners to easily order the least expensive item on the menu.
  • Items surrounded by boxes/lines are usually the restaurant’s feature item – and as such, also carry a high profit-margin