Do we put more intellectual value on information we pay for?

By Deane Barker on November 3, 2005

Do you put more value on information you pay for? Do you pay more attention to something you paid, say $5 for, than something you read for free on the Net?

A friend and I were having this conversation the other day, partly related to my post from a couple of days ago about the little PDF articles on Amazon.

Those seven or eight dollar books probably have no more information in them than a well-written article on some development Web site. But are you going to pay more attention to them because you paid money? It strikes me that I would. If I paid $7 for an article about .Net datagrids, I’d print it out, and find some quiet time to read it and try the examples. Is it just me?

Related to this —

I have an idea for a long article – probably a series of articles. I think I could actually write 20 or 30 intelligent pages on this subject, and it’s something I’ve never seen covered well anywhere else.

I’m tempted to do it as one of these ebooks because (1) it would take me some time to write it, so I’d like it to be worth something; and (2) I think people would value the information more if I sold it as a PDF on Amazon. Am I not thinking about this right?

(Before anyone accuses me of selling out, let me say that: (1) I would do the book as ransomware, so after it hit a certain number of sales, I’d release it; and (2) I wouldn’t DRM it or anything – I’d just trust people.)

Comments (2)

Noel says:

I have a friend that is into mountain biking and applies this theory to buying a bike. If you buy a cheap bike, it is easier just to let it sit. If you pay a little more you are more apt to tell yourself to get off the couch and utilize that $1,000 (or whatever) purchase.

Matt R. says:

I could count on one finger the amount of times that I have paid for PDF articles. I guess I’m too cheap. I remember having some buyer’s remorse because I was more than a little disappointed in the content of my purchase. I ended up looking a little harder and finding what I wanted – and it was free. As I recall, the purchased article did help to educate me enough so that I could use a better google search phrase.

I do occasionally buy technical books and am sometimes a little disappointed. Yet, I continue to buy more of them even though the sticker price is usually over $30. Perhaps it is because I feel it is my own fault that I walked out of the store with the book that I could have made certain was good before I forked over the loot.