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January 14, 2007



Your conclusion is misleading. Orwell's fundamental complaint was that the Brits don't read enough--not that they buy few books.

The relative price change is expected to lead to more book purchases only when *everything else is held constant*.

The theoretical model gets messy when we consider substitution. That is, as books get cheaper, electronic substitutes via the internet get even less pricy.

The proliferation of the internet has allowed for the substitution of low cost reading alternatives like journal articles, newspapers, blogs, e-books, etc. As a result, I wouldn't worry too much.


Is it actually misleading? Or merely a little bold?

Booze and fags are much more heavily taxed now than they were when Orwell was writing while books are still exempt. Also cigarette and probably alcohol consumption have fallen.

I'm not sure that Orwell would regard all internet browsing as reading in the sense that interested him.

I obviously don't drink in the same pubs as Chris but I think a three pound supports Chris's conclusion more strongly.


I get paperbacks, usually less than £7 a hit. If I finish one before polishing off two £4 bottles of wine (not all in one sitting) then I'm either reading pretty fast or going through a dry spell.

Perhaps a fairer test would be the number of hours spent reading per week, vs the number of hours on the drop.


It tells me that a book is 10 times less enjoyable than a good smoke.

james higham

It tells me absolutely nothing.


The demand for addictive substances is typically inelastic.



Yes, I've often not been able to stop reading a good book. It stops you sleeping, hurts your eyes, takes up loads of your time doing nothing on the sofa and can affect your performance the next day at work. Over time the lack of exercise caused by a reading habit destroys fitness and leads to ill health.

There needs to be regulation to stop people damaging their helath through the curse of reading.

james c

'I take two messages from this. Sometimes, people don’t much respond to price incentives, even over the long run. And the British character doesn’t change much'

Still watching Coronation Street, just as they were in Orwell's day.


Steady - how old do you think Bill Roache is?

dave heasman

After you've read a book, someone else can read it, with a similar level of utility as you got from it.

The same cannot be said of cigarettes or beer.

Chris P

Perhaps you're too bourgeois to have heard of public libraries where there is a collective purchase of books? On that basis the 1930's spent far more than the 2000's. I.e. the equation should be private + public expenditure on books.


I have found so many health related books at my favorite shopping site Couponalbum.com from so many brand name stores like Barnes & Noble, Magzines.com, Buy.com etc, all these stores are offering so many coupons & deals here..!!!

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I could be wrong, but I don’t think she is all that strict and she leaves a lot left to talk about. I also haven’t agreed with her all the time, but I appreciate the energy she puts into it. I’ll bet there are avenues with her to propose subjects or weave them in as most issues spoon with others.

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