Amazon Wants to Charge You $2.50 to Not Get a Physical CD

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 13 2013 1:07 PM

Price Discrimination of the Day

175771622
Neil Young and the Price Discriminators.

Photo by Fredrik Varfjell/AFP/Getty Images

Thanks to the tipster who pointed out to me that Amazon is currently selling Neil Young's Live at the Cellar Door on CD for $9.99, in a bundle where you also get a free MP3 download of the album. Another option is to just pay $12.49 for the MP3s alone.

What kind of sense does that make? Not much. But basically arbitrary pricing disparities can make sense.

Advertisement

The dream in retail is to offer a really good deal to thrifty people while charging higher prices to everyone else. That's the point of, say, coupons. Or of stores where half the stuff is 20 percent off at any given time. The idea is that price sensitive people just need to invest a little bit of time, while the lazy/careless/affluent pay a premium. This is basically the same thing. If you're paying attention, the price is $9.99, but if you're not, you pay $12.49—the inclusion or noninclusion of the CD is basically a coincidence.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.