Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies: And Other Pricing Puzzles Review
With exhaustive research and a wry sense of humor, University of California, Irvine professor Richard McKenzie probes the pricing questions that consumers so often fail to ask in Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies. By distilling the effectiveness of commonly-held strategies, McKenzie illuminates the logic in the seemingly illogical and shakes the foundations of prevalent pricing myths. Are we really fooled by prices that end in 9? If holiday clearance sales are about excess inventory, wouldn't retailers hire better buyers the next year? And why do coffee shops offer free WiFi? Fans of Freakonomics will enjoy McKenzie's entertaining analysis, as you may never look at sales, coupons, rebates - or movie theater popcorn - the same way again. - Dave Callanan

From the reviews:

"The author, Richard McKenzie, does a popping-good job showing readers why they should buy his book. … since his book is about hidden truths in marketing and he demonstrates the popcorn truth so well, you definitely get a feel … to buy this book." (Beneath the Cover, June, 2008)

"Richard McKenzie takes the reader through the conundrums of pricing --why are there after-Christmas sales, why do new cars instantly lose so much value … and how does subsidized university housing burden the university in unforeseen ways. And, of course, why popcorn costs so much at the movies. Fun but also illuminating on the power of markets to value your time and the products and services you purchase. Why Popcorn Costs So Much At the Movies, And Other Pricing Puzzles makes pricing theory interesting!" (Hugh Hewitt, June, 2008)

"Richard McKenzie’s book, Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies, and other pricing puzzles, is out. … It looks like a good microeconomics primer to me – a nice mix of thoughtful price theory and contemporary examples." (The Undercover Economist, June, 2008)

"In this book, McKenzie covers an eclectic range of topics, looking at strange pricing phenomena and their consequences. … this will be an interesting read." (Andy Ridgway, BBC Focus, Summer, 2008)

"The first place/time I heard of this book was on the EconTalk podcast … . Dr. Tyler Cowen recommends the book as well. … provides a solid grounding on the ‘why’ of prices. Why are they so important, why must we get them ‘right?’ … The treatment of ‘free’ items such as ink-jet printers was excellent, and possibly worth the price of the book itself. … In short, a solid book that I enjoyed more than I expected to." (Amateur Economist, August, 2008)

"This is an interesting book and a good read. The level is not technical and is similar to some of the recent crop of popular economics writings … . What differentiates this book is its ideology: markets and people are rational." (Huw Dixon, Times Higher Education, July, 2008)

"McKenzie uses clear economic reasoning to explain many aspects of pricing that are otherwise puzzling. He even uses reasoning about prices to show that the federal government’s rules for getting on airplanes have caused more deaths than the terrorists … . … He uses economics to analyze the issues deeply and presents a more balanced view of the incentives and motivations of sellers. … McKenzie’s Popcorn is a welcome antidote to Freakonomics." (David R. Henderson, Regulation, Vol. 31 (3), Fall, 2008)

"In his most recent book, entitled `Why Popcorn Cost So Much at the Movies, and Other Pricing Puzzles,' ... Richard McKenzie explains this conundrum as well as other pricing mysteries. ... Overall I enjoyed this book ... . Mckenzie's writing style graciously makes this book effortless to read and comprehend. ... I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to gain a greater understanding of how basic economics principals can accurately explain pricing enigmas in our everyday lives." (Keegan Hall's Infamous Blog, December, 2008)

"The book Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies is an academic book wrapped in a populist title. It provides insight into a variety of pricing mysteries … . it is useful for anyone involved in pricing a product. … The book touches upon social issues and the unintended consequences of pricing. … With a variety of topics, it has something for students and professionals … . " (The Viodi View, January, 2009)

"Written by an economist for smart people, Popcorns unpacks pricing puzzles taken from real life, from the age-old debate over ending a price in a 9 to charging $10 for a bucket of movie theater popcorn. … To an entrepreneur facing the mystery of setting prices, this book contains a wealth of important ideas." (Inc, January, 2009)

"Pricing makes the economic go’ round. … Professor McKenzie does a good job of tackling this complexity head on, and anyone whose job is remotely connected to pricing will benefit from reading this book. Consumers who are curious about the prices they pay … and how they got that way are likely to enjoy this book as well. … McKenzie’s writing is engaging and readable. … this is a must read book for anyone who deals with pricing." (The Customer Knowledge Advantage, May, 2009)

"Of all the good books I’ve read recently, the best so far is probably Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies and Other Pricing Puzzles by Richard McKenzie. … The book looks at a large number of pricing puzzles and … provide rational explanations for why they might be the case. … McKenzie … illustrate the possible ways to resolve these puzzles. … I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is … interested in understanding economics as the science of making decisions." (Diversified Interests, July, 2009)

Anything we think about every day is important. And who goes a day without thinking about prices? But prices are more important than most people realize. If you are interested in reducing pollution from cars, or not being fooled into paying too much, or too little, for products, or in just getting the best deal on popcorn at the movies, you will benefit from knowing more about prices than most people do. And there is no easier, or entertaining, way of finding out more on how and why prices are important than by reading McKenzie's fascinating book Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies, And other Pricing Puzzles. And are people really fooled by all those prices that end in 99 cents? You'll be surprised. -- Dwight Lee, University of Georgia, 2008-01-25

This book is about more than popcorn prices. McKenzie uses clear economic reasoning to explain so many things that are otherwise puzzling. He also shows that the federal government's rules for getting on airplanes have caused more deaths than the terrorists caused on 9/11. How does economics show that? Read, be entertained - and learn. -- David R. Henderson, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, 2008-03-21

This is one of the very best books on pricing. If you are looking to understand the economics of the world around you, you can do no better than to start here. -- Tyler Cowen, George Mason University; economics blogger of, 2008-02-27

Truly liberating. Using a series of fascinating enigmas we've all encountered in our daily lives, Richard McKenzie reveals how the real economic world works. Highly readable. Extraordinarily enlightening. -- W. Michael Cox, senior vice president and chief economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2008-02-23