August 3, 2007
News & Opinion: Riding the Freakonomics Wave.
The WSJ picks on the latest economic books saying they're overlooking a more bedrock rule -- that of supply and demand (free access today). From the WSJ:
In Discover Your Inner Economist, Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, talks readers through economic rationales for dating (flowers work because they are expensive), charity (give to those who aren't asking) and eating well (at expensive restaurants, avoid dishes that rely too heavily on top-quality raw ingredients). But sales of other new titles that aim to explain weird phenomena in economic terms don't bode well for Mr. Cowen's book: More Sex Is Safer Sex, by Steven E. Landsburg, and The Economic Naturalist, by Robert H. Frank, have sold just 12,000 copies combined since their spring releases according to data from Nielsen BookScan, which tracks approximately 70% of retail book sales. Meanwhile, an expanded edition of "Freakonomics," which came out in October, has sold 119,000 copies since January. In his book, Mr. Cowen describes a potential explanation: a marketing principle called "scarcity of attention."