Reading Roundup

Consumer powers…unite!

Note: I mention the title of this book three times. Each time, I link to a different review of it. The last link is to NPR and includes an excerpt of the book.

I recently read Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, by Ellen Ruppel Shell. It’s a book I continue to think about weeks after I’ve read it and even while I read other books, and it’s a book that alters my behavior. I don’t think I need to explain the significance of that.

Today, I read an article at Publishers Weekly on whether children’s publishers are destroying rainforests. This goes hand-in-hand with the Cheap book. Books have incredibly low profit margins, much lower than other products, and full-color children’s books are expensive to produce. There is a tug-o-war between keeping costs down and being environmentally responsible.

Now let’s jump to the business of embroidery. We’ve watched our local needlework shops close one after another these past several years, and it seems we hear about another designer calling it quits every day. At the same time, we are overwhelmed with free patterns and tutorials on the Internet and Discount! Discount! Sale! Sale! Sale!

In the end, it all comes down to one simple question: What do we value enough to pay for?

We are not powerless to change things. In fact, as consumers, we hold all the power. Let’s wield it well.

I highly recommend Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. While the subject matter could be depressing and the tone preachy and accusatory, it’s not. It felt like an adventure of exploration and discovery. Ellen’s got a somewhat dry sense of humor, and she respects and understands her audience because she’s one of us. It’s her adventure, and she takes us along. She made me laugh, and she made me glad I read her book.

Categories: Crafting, Needlework, Reading

3 replies »

  1. I read the PW article, too.

    “The degradation and destruction of tropical rainforests—mostly to get palm oil and wood for publishing—is responsible for 15 percent of annual greenhouse emissions, according to RAN.”

    I’m curious what the “mostly” number is for the wood for publishing part, but anyway, I had no idea that’s what the majority of the rainforest trees was used for.

    At least publishers are starting to work toward a remedy. Of course, here’s another argument in favor of e-publishing.

  2. This sounds like a “must read”. Thanks for the recommendation. The PW article was fascinating. I had no idea. I agree with Linda that this is an argument for e-publishing, but I confess I still love the feel of a quality book. And the computer isn’t a replacement for cuddling in chair or bed, reading aloud while your child turns the pages and explores the details of glorious pictures.