Get my book for free

by on August 2, 2007 at 9:39 am in Books | Permalink

Yes my book is out today (B&N here) but you don’t need to buy it.  You can get it here for free.


It is simple.  Just write in the comments section some reason why you should get my book for free.  I will mail free copies to the first fifteen commenters to meet the following conditions:

1. Your comment must offer a reason why you should get the book for free.

2. You must explain that reason in a moderately-sized paragraph or more.  "Just cuz" does not qualify.

3. Your paragraph must address why you should get the book and why you should get it for free.

4. You must believe your reason.

Then email me with your mailing address (to my normal gmu email, and so I know you are you please put your real name on your posted reason as well) and I will send you a copy, through Amazon, at my own expense.  You know, at first I thought I would get the publisher to put up copies for this but then I realized no, I ought to be paying for the books myself.  I’m not even using an author’s discount.

I wish I were a wealthier man, but I am offering only fifteen copies right now.  Any future copies will be offered abroad, not in the U.S.

I am very interested in the idea of what it means to have a reason.

Sadly, no matter how good your reason, I cannot send more than one copy to you.

Addendum: This offer is restricted to the United States and Canada.  I am worried that the first copies to go out otherwise would end up in the hands of a single Nigerian spammer, plus Amazon does not ship worldwide.  Nonetheless I hope to make a similar offer to the broader world in the future, with appropriate safeguards.

Second addendum: The first fifteen slots have now been awarded…

1 Aaron August 2, 2007 at 9:49 am

Much like used cars, new books are a gamble. The potential reader has only prior reputation and pre-release hype. Books by scholars may or may not step beyond what is already available in blogs, other books, etc. So I tend towards purchasing paperbacks. However, I am a big talker when it comes to books I love. After reading Fooled by Randomness, I was very happy to tell people about The Black Swan, which I quickly purchased in hardback when it was released. I think a free book would be able to serve both your interests and mine, as I do believe I could generate at least a replacement sale if not additional sales as a result of my word of mouth, and I could read a hardcover at home without waiting to get it from the library. Also, my wife is teaching a class in the fall at a local university, and who knows what some well placed title dropping can bring. More than sales, a whole slew of potential inner economists can be released, all from the shipment of one copy of your book. I know that you as well would be taking a risk in sending a copy to me, but that risk should be spread across the number of other copies that you send out in this offer. Thanks for your consideration!

2 assaf August 2, 2007 at 9:52 am

Amazon does ship internationally.
I live in Israel.

3 Michael Carr August 2, 2007 at 9:54 am

If you send me this book, I will be sure to read it and will offer commentary on my moderately well-read blog. I may not agree with everything you write, but can guarantee that a few more people will hear about it than otherwise would have. As for why it should come free, the sad truth is that I have a full stack of reading material at the moment and a list of books in my shopping cart at Amazon; there’s a good chance that I’ll read this book anyway, but it won’t be any time in the next three or four months.

4 Michael August 2, 2007 at 9:54 am

DISCLAIMER: I wrote the above post very fast so I could be one of the first 15… I hope the spelling mistakes don’t disqualify me.

5 Michael August 2, 2007 at 9:55 am

In five years, let alone one hundred, you won’t care who the books went to. Nor will it make a predictable difference to the readers, since you can’t reliably predict who will benefit from reading the book based on a single paragraph, and you don’t know what they would have read otherwise or what difference that would have made. What you do know is you can more quickly complete your precommitted giving-away-free-books task by giving them away to early entrants, such as me. Therefore I should get a free copy of your book.

6 jack sparrow August 2, 2007 at 9:56 am

And I live in Canada, so that makes me a perfect candidate for this book.

7 Will Garvin August 2, 2007 at 9:58 am

Dear Tyler,
I believe I should get your book for free because you promised me that the answer to the question I have been searching for (and asked you to answer) could be found in this book. If you don’t remember, I asked you to state “Your opinion on how to give to charity.” and you stated that “I’ll be covering this in my forthcoming book Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist, due out from Dutton on August 2.” See So I have been in constant suspense about how I should be giving to charity. Until I get the answer to my question, I fear that lots of poor children will continue to suffer. As for why I should get the book for free; the reason is because by saving money on your books I can give more to the suffering children. So in conclusion, giving the book to me for free saves suffering children. Think of the children Tyler, think of the children.


8 meep August 2, 2007 at 9:59 am

I should get the book for free, because I am an influencer when it comes to books amongst my co-workers and online friends (some of the books I’ve gotten people to read are Godel, Escher, Bach, Freakonomics, some physics books, and even Dickens novels). Some people have read books because I have explicitly recommended them to them, some have bought books simply because I’ve read them and said they were an interesting read.

I don’t know what your royalty share is per book, so I don’t know if roughly 10 additional sales will offset the cost of one free copy to me.

9 Abraham August 2, 2007 at 10:01 am

I read a lot of blogs including this one obviously, but until this post I didn’t even know what your name was and I knew nothing about your book except that you wrote one. I suppose having a copy of the book would be the easiest way to make me more familiar with your ideas and make me more interested in your other work in general.

I have no reason that I should get it for free other than that I probably won’t ever buy it.

Despite the ambivalence of my motivations, I can say that if I receive one I will definitely read it and tell others what I think of it.

10 meep August 2, 2007 at 10:02 am

Also, I will tell my friends how cool the author is. 😉 So it’s in your own self-interest.

And it’s very much in my own self-interest to get a book I want to read for free.

11 jack sparrow August 2, 2007 at 10:03 am

Sorry, I missed my real name in my posted reason. My name is Angad Sahota

12 Andrew August 2, 2007 at 10:03 am

Having recently graduated from graduate school, I have a very large amount of debt, so my ability to buy all the books I want to read is limited. Couple that with my burgeoning interest in economics and my recent purchase of A Farewell to Alms to read with the group here, I think that the more I read on the subject, the more interested I will continue to become. I’ve already learned a lot from reading your blog over the last year or so and look forward to learning more in the coming years.

13 Mike Russell August 2, 2007 at 10:04 am

Simple, so I can read it as an investment in human capital. This will also me to have higher future earnings. In the future, when I am not so poor , I will buy more of your books, perhaps even purchasing the entire backcatalog over on the right of your blog. I will remain a irrationally loyal reader over the years bringing in increased revenue to you over time than you would lose over not giving me this one book. However, if I don’t get the book I might be irrationally disloyal and never buy one of your books out of simple spite, regardless of how much I might benefit. I could go on but I need to post this with a quickness.

14 LN August 2, 2007 at 10:04 am

I am interested in economics (looking to apply to graduate programs this fall) but moreover I am also very interested in how people think about economics, and how they think about how they think about economics. I am also a regular reader of your blog although I generally disagree with your political stance. That said, I am not currently planning on purchasing your book (my economics-related wish list on Amazon is quite long) and therefore I would be an almost optimal candidate to receive a free copy. (To be fair it is certainly not the case that I cannot afford to purchase your book, or even that I would notice the drop in my savings if I did. But if I do not receive a free copy I will almost certainly not read it until it appears in public libraries. More generally speaking, only greater financial need and greater political influence would make me a better candidate for a free copy; if you find enough people with such characteristics, I recommend sending them free copies instead.)

15 Tom August 2, 2007 at 10:05 am

Why I want the book for free? To minimize my deadweight costs, should I not enjoy it.

Why I shouldn’t get the book? I like your blog, ergo I will very probably like your book. There is an opportunity cost associated with every book purchase. I should stop being a cheapskate, take a risk and buy the book, if only to remunerate you for the views and thoughts you share with your readers, for free, every day.

16 Nathan Roseberry August 2, 2007 at 10:05 am

A friend and I have started a (small) local microeconomics club. I think your book would be a great book for us to use next. I would like you to send me a copy because I would prefer to not buy the book. We’ll probably be using one of your books soon, but I think that if you send me a copy we’ll use your new book instead of borrowing older books through the library. The benefit to you: at least two additional sales. The benefit to me: free book. The cost: you buy one book, my friends by two books, I have guilt for free riding. Not enough guilt to dissuade me though!

Nathan R.

17 DB August 2, 2007 at 10:06 am

I should read this book because I want to better internalize the basic principles taught in Econ 101. I am an aspiring economist who works as a research assistant to a several think-tank economists, and perhaps my favorite part of the job is listening in on conversation between these guys during the lunch hour. Corner solutions, transactions costs, refining your model – these and other ideas come up all the time, and that’s when their talking about their families, discussing the news, or giving me advice on what to do after my one-year job here. Another reason I should have the book is that I enjoy proselytizing economics to my English major-type friends, who, since college, have become v. interested in economics and the way of thinking. I’ll loan the book out—it won’t just sit on my shelf. And I should have the book for free because I work as an RA at a well-known think-tank, so my compensation is in the name of the place more than in the paycheck, AND I am starting graduate school in two weeks, upon which my net cash flow will hover around zero for two-years.

18 daniel August 2, 2007 at 10:07 am

I read your blog regularly, though I don’t comment very often. Thanks for this opportunity. I’m about to enter a PhD program in applied economics and will have very little additional money for the next several years. However, I would read the book (I like the blog, so it follows. . .) and anticipate using reasoning/anecdotes when speaking with people (who are, naturally, often asking me about economics). I might even drive a few additional people to buy the book.

19 Mike Giberson August 2, 2007 at 10:08 am

Preliminaries: I am planning to buy your book sometime in the next few days. I regularly read MR and often, but not always, agree with you. I blog at and

Case: Sending me a free copy will not waste resources. If you send a copy to someone not willing to pay the current price, resources will be wasted. While I often agree with your positions here, I don’t always. Perhaps given the room to develop your points at greater length in the book, you will be better able to persuade me of your views. Finally, whether or not you are persuasive, I will likely blog about your book, adding to the general “discover you inner economist” buzz.

So, pick me and you (1) won’t waste resources, (2) may persuade me of more of your views, and (3) will further the marketing buzz around your new book.

20 Jordan Peacock August 2, 2007 at 10:09 am

Much like Lori, I too discovered you through Google Reader’s ‘Thinkers’ pack. I have since trimmed the fat from it, but your blog is one of the few that has stood the test of time. The questions asked, the topics discussed, and the dialogue through the comments are consistently intriguing and engaging.

Nevertheless, to be perfectly honest, I had no intention of buying or reading your book. I hadn’t even particularly thought about it. However, I began to think when you mentioned this contest, that your book would be the perfect means of introduction to you for someone uninitiated in this forum of sorts. There are two or three such people who, for various reasons, do not use RSS readers or browse blogs but are immensely interested in the subjects you discuss. I believe that a single copy, traded around this office, will result in a two or three appreciative readers and potential buyers, as I will continue to keep the copy of an introduction and probably read it myself as well.

I won’t be hurt if I am not chosen but I would be grateful if I am. Thanks for the opportunity.

21 Philipe Berman August 2, 2007 at 10:10 am

Back in my country, people are discussing if government should impose a unique price on books. Economic illiteracy is a worldwide problem, but the anti-market bias is deepened in regions where people are the protagonists or witness of the evils caused by stupid and irresponsible laws. Even worse, people tend to blame capitalism and globalization for all the problems on the world because they do not read good books. By “good books” I mean those claiming the benefits of markets. So I am sure if I read your book, I could benefit all my classmates by sharing with them my thoughts on your ideas. To answer the reason I should get it free is that I could simply donate it to the library without listening to my inner voice telling me: “they won’t read, they don’t care”.

22 Mike Saer August 2, 2007 at 10:13 am

I notice that part of the book cover claims to help me “survive my next meeting.” Well then, I desperately need this book. I feel that I’m in one long giant meeting and can’t for the life of me figure out what is being accomplished. So, hopefully, your book will be able to shed some light on the situation. As to why I should get the book for free… I’m a struggling young professional who can’t afford hardcover books and by the time I’m able to check it out in the library, you’ll have already published two more books. Thanks Tyler!

23 josh August 2, 2007 at 10:18 am

I am very cheap. This indicates that I value money a great deal relative to other things. As such, my unwillingness to simply buy the book does not accurately reflect my desire to own the book. I want the book very much, I just want the money more. Others on this board who claim to be poor students or simply poor for other reasons may also value the money higher than the book; however, due to my own extraordinary cheapness and the fact that there is some small probability that I will buy the book despite this cheapness, indciates that I desire the book more than these other posters relative to other non-monetary goods. In other words, I believe my desire for this book is closer to my own desire for a bundle consisting of respect, love, and physical pleasure than the desire of others for the book and a similar bundle. Furthermore, as happiness likely shows diminishing returns, you should give this book to me as I am not nearly as happy as a college student is likely to be. If your desire is to give away your book for purely altruistic reasons, you should give it to those for whom it will bring the greatest happiness. I believe am one of such people.

24 Beau August 2, 2007 at 10:21 am

I have a BS in Psychology and work in the Information Security field — two fields which are very different from each other and from Economics. But my experiences in both of these tell me that the most important part of dealing with and controlling the world outside of myself is understanding and appealing to motivations. Your book is about incentives, which seems to me to be a way of manipulating and appealing to motivations. I think that I could get a lot of use from learning more about these techniques. When I am done with it I plan to pass it along to someone else who would get as much out of it as I hope to.

25 Charlie August 2, 2007 at 10:24 am

Hi Tyler,

I’m starting my second year in the PhD program at UC Berkeley. This fall, I’ll be teaching for the first time and have been reading some textbooks and popular press econ books for ideas to incorporate into my sections. I would love to use examples from your book (I think that I already have a couple from posts on MR). Hence, I need to get a copy of your book (I looked for it at my local B&N yesterday, forgetting when it came out).

Of course, I’m a lowly grad student and your book does cost more than a case of Cup of Noodles. Plus, I’m not incorporating the externalities generated by sharing the examples with my students into my valuation.

Lastly, what better way is there to start my teaching career than with an uplifting gift from Tyler Cowen?



26 Justin August 2, 2007 at 10:31 am

Hi Tyler,

Even though I’m kinka late to the comments party going on, I think I should receive the book because it’s a pretty amazing incentive to write a comment to receive a book.

Isn’t that the subject of your new book? Incentives?

Have a nice day!

27 Rich August 2, 2007 at 10:34 am

After attempting to contrive a reason for requesting a free copy, I realized I don’t really want one… I’m perfectly happy to pay for it. Why? First, I’ll be supporting you and your writing, which is a worthy cause. Second, I am in the wonderful position of being able to afford it, and others are undoubtedly more deserving. Third, my demand for your book is highly inelastic; free books should go to those burdened with greater elasticity.

Please do not send me a copy of your book.

Incidentally, here is some advice for how to channel charitable impulses like these.

28 Alex August 2, 2007 at 10:35 am

Because when a computer geek realizes he had chosen the wrong carrier and his subconscious keeps reminding him about how cool is the field of economics and every good book makes him feel guilty……….is time to give him a second change or at least a free book :-D.

Alex Perez

29 John August 2, 2007 at 10:39 am

I have a big confession — I read your secret blog while mistakenly thinking my brother had pre-ordered a copy of your book for me, though he had not. When the Amazon package arrived last night, it only held one copy (his). I snapped at him in a serious way, because he had told me that he had pre-ordered two copies — one for him, one for me. The lout made a cheat and a liar out of me. (I have to wonder if I had valued my reputation enough, shouldn’t I have ordered them myself?) Tyler, let me say that I wouldn’t have visited your secret blog otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t have told you that I had pre-ordered your book in an email to you. I am very guilt-ridden. As gracious as you may be, I certainly don’t deserve a free copy.

30 Paul Neubecker August 2, 2007 at 10:45 am

Admittedly, I just discovered this blog yesterday after seeing a mention of it on when I was reading about restaurants, my true interest. I am an undergraduate student at Fordham U so sorry George Mason can screw (although I did pull for you guys in the tournament.) Although some of your ideas that were summarized in the article that led me to this blog, I am interested enough to read on, but by nature of being in college too cheap to actually buy the book, sorry.

As for what my reason should be to get the free book? Well, I could sit here at work and ponder this and try to come up with some deep and philosophical revelation that might sway a “cultural billionaire† economist as yourself, but being a more practical accounting major myself, I’ll just take the usual core class philosophy paper approach and say “What is a reason really? Do any of us have reasons? What is the true relationship between cause and effect? What came first the effect or the cause? Chicken or Egg?†

My guess is this won’t work, but its usually enough to get my paper done in an hour without exerting any real effort and get a B so I can go get plastered in a dump with the same loud obnoxious people that I make promises to at least once a week that I will be their best friends forever and that we will one day conquer the world and fix all the problems.

Hope you at least laugh, and no you can’t get the last 2 minutes of your life back and that kind of seems to be your whole thing, time being the truly invaluable commodity – so maybe the jokes on both of us?


31 Paul Neubecker August 2, 2007 at 10:50 am

Admittedly, I just discovered this blog yesterday after seeing a mention of it on when I was reading about restaurants, my true interest. I am an undergraduate student at Fordham U so sorry George Mason can screw (although I did pull for you guys in the tournament.) Although some of your ideas that were summarized in the article that led me to this blog, I am interested enough to read on, but by nature of being in college too cheap to actually buy the book, sorry.

As for what my reason should be to get the free book? Well, I could sit here at work and ponder this and try to come up with some deep and philosophical revelation that might sway a “cultural billionaire† economist as yourself, but being a more practical accounting major myself, I’ll just take the usual core class philosophy paper approach and say “What is a reason really? Do any of us have reasons? What is the true relationship between cause and effect? What came first the effect or the cause? Chicken or Egg?†

My guess is this won’t work, but its usually enough to get my paper done in an hour without exerting any real effort and get a B so I can go get plastered in a dump with the same loud obnoxious people that I make promises to at least once a week that I will be their best friends forever and that we will one day conquer the world and fix all the problems.

Hope you at least laugh, and no you can’t get the last 2 minutes of your life back and that kind of seems to be your whole thing, time being the truly invaluable commodity – so maybe the jokes on both of us?


32 Ray Hafner August 2, 2007 at 10:51 am

I would like a free copy of your book but I do not need it. I am well aware of all the positive effects of increasing the minimum wage. It should be $12 per hour. I already know the benefits of tariffs and protectionism and the many ways in which these policies keep Americans employed and wealthy. I work tirelessly to undermine free markets and believe that auctions were invented by Voldemort. An expansionary monetary policy is good for the poor because it allows the government to provide services.

See, you could send me your book, but I’m already as educated as possible. Thanks much.

33 Telnar August 2, 2007 at 10:53 am

I don’t believe that you should give me a copy for free. In fact, I can only come up with two types of reasons why you should do that, and neither applies:

1) You might believe that giving me the book produced a net gain for you in excess of the cost.

2) You might believe that giving me the book produced a gain for me which was larger than the net cost to you (including any benefits you get from giving me the book, but discounting my gain my whatever model you use to internalize changes in the utility of strangers from your actions).

(1) Seems clearly false. I pre-ordered a copy, so I’m clearly willing to buy one, and it’s unlikely that giving it to me will generate goodwill which is of value to you (e.g. making it more likely that I’ll favorably review it or read it faster). For most Americans, the value of the time required to read a book is so much greater than the cost of that book that a free book should not significantly alter their behavior.

(2) also seems false since I’m not so severely budget/credit constrained that I’m unable to buy a copy in the short run in spite of valuing it above the purchase price (and if I didn’t value it above the purchase price, then my response to (1) argues that it’s unlikely that there would be a gain from you spending the purchase price to give me a copy relative to just giving me the money you would have spent on it).

34 Sergio Salgado August 2, 2007 at 10:55 am

Mr Cowen

I was writing the reason why I should recieve the book for free, when a realized that it wont be shipped to Chile even if I write you if first place.

Bad look for living in Chile


35 meep August 2, 2007 at 10:57 am

Ooops, my real name is meep, actually. That’s what all my friends (even my husband) calls me. My full name is Mary Pat Campbell.

36 Abe August 2, 2007 at 11:01 am

I would like your book for free because of a combination of three factors: 1) I read many, many books, 2) I am known amongst my social circle as an avid and knowledeable reader and 3) my wife has, owing to factor #1, restricted my book purchases of late.

Since it is likely that I will be unable to purchase the book due to the restictions mention in Factor #3, I will be unable to recommend it to others, who as mentioned in Factor #2, would normally be influenced by such a suggestion.

37 James August 2, 2007 at 11:02 am

Mr. Cowen,

I believe you should send me a free copy of your book so I may spread your wisdom of to my friends and family. In this day and age where people only believe what the media tells them I think it important to break away, ask question and give answers; which I believe you do very well. I believe I should get this book for free because otherwise I would not read your book until I could get it from my public library. This might not seem like a reason not to send me a free book but waiting will only dilute may hunger for information in this field, and I can assure you that I will inform and lend your knowledge and book to friends and family bringing a greater awareness of you work.

Thank You For Your Time,

James Tullar

38 Sanjay Nair August 2, 2007 at 11:07 am

Professor Cowen-

I should get the book because I’m a student and not an economist.

I should get the book free because I’m a student and not an economist.

39 Lee August 2, 2007 at 11:09 am

Although I have been a loyal Marginal Revolution reader for a couple of years now, I think you should send me a free book because frankly, this is only my second favorite blog of yours.

I’d love to say that I’m most impressed by your ability to discuss economics in everyday life, to find occasional examples of the absurdity of government intervention, or to explain our most challenging public policy decisions in a way that economists and non-economists alike can understand. However, any such statements would be lies. The truth is, when I think of “Tyler Cowen,† those qualities are always a distant second in my mind. I’m much more enamored of your Ethnic Dining Guide, and as a DC resident, I have a hard time thinking cerebrally when I could be thinking digestively, so to speak. I’m worried that I’ve been so distracted by eating Thai X-ing, Udupi Palace, or any of the other fabulous places you’ve sent me that I’m forgetting to pay attention to your impressive knowledge of economics. With a free book full of your insightful economic commentary, I might be able to convince myself once again that a brain full of economic knowledge is at least an excellent complement to a stomach full of food.

40 Chris Bertram August 2, 2007 at 11:11 am

Though since I am in the UK, I see that I don’t qualify anyway.

41 Mike Migs August 2, 2007 at 11:14 am

You see I have a skewed sense of reality†¦ In my mind I have deified myself. Now while my skewed sense of reality may not be shared I have deiced to create a “wikialitiy† (Thanks Mr. Colbert) that is reality defined by wikipedia†¦ Now if Wikipedia = Truth, My skewed Reality = Truth there fore I am a deity. As praise I would accept a free book.

(If nothing else I hope I made you laugh heheh)

42 Andrew Dane August 2, 2007 at 11:21 am

Mr Cowen:

This fall I will be returning to Harvard college as a junior economics concentrator. Unlike the vast majority of my peers, I come from a family whose gross annual income is under $50,000.

Consider the gift of your book to me as the most efficient transfer of this kind possible: one in which a person (me) unable to purchase said book is most able to extract the information from it. I doubt that for any other person whom you could give your book the surplus gained would be as great. I will be receiving an item from which I will benefit greatly: a book that will compliment my school work while surely helping me reach deeper, think more critically about and more thoroughly understand the field of economics. All this from something I would likely be unable to afford on my own, but it doesn’t stop there. Arguably I am in the single best position to further/apply the teachings in you book, being not only at one of the world’s top institutions, but also a member of the next generation of economists who will ultimately refute or accept the writings of Tyler Cowen.

What do you say?
Harvard C/O 2009

43 Curt Garner August 2, 2007 at 11:22 am

I have two good reasons why I’d be a good recipient.

1. I’ve already purchased the book myself, so giving me a copy would not cut into future sales.
2. I want it to give to a friend who I know will not buy the book himeself, but is likely to read and benefit from it if I give it to him. Your ideas will be going not just to a random bookstore purchaser, but to a reader whom I’ve targeted as one likely appreciate your ideas more than most. He is bright, curious, holds a significant policy-level position in government. In my judgment, his work stands a strong chance of being impacted by some of your ideas — particularly those in your first few chapters.

44 Samson August 2, 2007 at 11:28 am

Your book is on my wishlist, but I do not have any rich uncles, so that list is something I load up on my screen when I’m in need of daydreaming. I simply cannot afford to buy any books but expensive graduate economics textbooks over the next few months.

I could attempt a cost-benefit analysis to argue that there is a net gain for you if you send me a free copy. Yes, if you like my reasoning, you will derive some utility from sending a copy, perhaps more than you would have from the $17. I suspect receiving a deluge of pleading comments makes it worth the ~$315. Certainly, the losers are subsidizing the efforts of the winners. Nevertheless, i cannot argue for your benefit without resorting to the silver bullet: just as with free trade, it’s a positive and good interaction since it’s voluntary on both sides.

If you happen to have an anonymously altruistic utility function, that you care about the marginal change in my utility, just know that i haven’t read a good book in a while. furthermore, i’ve been anticipating reading your book, so the increase in my welfare, of which you will receive some multiple, is higher than it would be for just about any other book right now.

I share what I read with friends and colleagues; the last time I was excited about a similar book (Freakonomics), I convinced a first-year seminar (like freshman english in college) professor to have it on the reading list. If your book is as good as you imply, I will happily, and sincerely, sing its praises. And there would be no better gimmick than to explain how Tyler Cowen gave me the book for free. Now who’d believe that an ordinary economist would give something away for free! Hence, you, and your book, they will say to themselves, must be extraordinary.

Samson “Hoping for a Free Lunch” Alva

45 MW August 2, 2007 at 11:32 am

Crap. I ordered it just yesterday.

46 Grant Rauscher August 2, 2007 at 11:35 am

Having just read my friends’ copies of Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist, I find myself at a bit of an impasse; Economics is a subject that fascinates me in its breadth, its means, and its implications. However, the lure of my current Government major and the politics of these years currently has the edge in deciding my educational path.
I want to learn and read more about subjects involving Economics to see if I should switch to the bright and dismal science down at the University of Texas at Austin, but I do not have the money to purchase almost anything and still afford to pay for used Business textbooks for the fall semester.
I hope that you will help me in furthering my education.
Grant Rauscher

47 Eric August 2, 2007 at 11:37 am

Wow, offer a free book and they come screaming out of the woodwork…

70 individuals respond in less than 2 hours for an economics book within a blog on economics topics. Using the terminology of my work: this is a high functioning large group.

Prof. Cowen, I already ordered DYIE, so I’m not requesting a free book. But may I have your blog traffic data for research I’m doing?

48 Jack Sparrow August 2, 2007 at 11:42 am

“I am very interested in the idea of what it means to have a reason.”

I like the link to Derek Parfit. I am currently reading his book Reasons and Persons, and don’t
like his writing style much, but I realise its good book. Can you tell us what you think of his

49 tim loveless August 2, 2007 at 11:43 am

i am a high school economics teacher. most students agree with thomas carlyle’s opinion that economics is the “dismal science”. the recent spate of books disproving this theory [freakonomics, the armchair economist, etc] has been quite helpful in changing student attitudes towards economics. i hope that your book will be helpful in continuing that trend. by sending me a free copy of your book, your ideas will be exposed to about 60 student who would otherwise be ignorant of even your existence. this may even lead to increased sales of you book, not just from my students, but also from their peers who may hear what interesting ideas are contained therein. despite my unconventional grammar [and possibly spelling] i do think of myself as a good teacher. your book could be the catalyst that inspires a new generation of economist. what more could you ask for in return for a simple free copy? it is a small price to pay for the chance to inspire.

50 Sriharai Prabhu August 2, 2007 at 11:49 am

Hi Tyler,

I’m about to begin as a middle school math teacher in Newark, NJ through Teach for America. In my experience summer teaching at our training institute, I found that nothing captivates students’ interest so much as my Freakonomics examples, as students would ensue in passionate debates on the subjects. As I’m on a teacher’s salary (and a recent college graduate) I don’t have a lot of expendable income. By giving my classroom a free copy, you would be sparking the interest of under-privileged young kids who would get a firsthand glimpse of what people get to study in college. Also, it would be a great way to introduce basic statistics and math concepts and show how these numbers can be applied to real life. By giving my classroom the book, your ideas would be reaching up to 120 impressionable young minds who may have never been exposed to such ideas before.

51 Srihari Prabhu August 2, 2007 at 11:52 am

Sorry about this post– just correcting the spelling of my name on the previous one. Thanks!

52 erik k August 2, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I saw you at the 18th Street Lounge but refrained from talking to you (even though I had some burning questions), because I was sure that you had more important people to meet that night. Perhaps you made an important contact (a journalist, perchance?) at the party, in which case you owe me for the time I freed up for you. I need the book to answer the questions I refrained from asking you in person.

53 Samir Nurmohamed August 2, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Hey Tyler,

Before I explain, I have to admit one thing: I am new to your blog, and ended up finding it because I was trying to find an excuse on why not to study for the GRE! Anyways, I am entering my fourth year in my undergraduate study of Economics and Philosophy, and the material that I have read written by you has convinced me to pursue an interest in Organizations and Management in the future.

So much of what I have learned in Economics at university seems outdated: some of my professors still hail traditional economic theories as if still lived in the days of the Chicago revolution led by Milton Friedman without presenting new ones. The reality is that we do NOT have a perfect system, and your views and ideas have hinted many reasons why there are some flaws.

At the same time, economics, like never before, is becoming accessible to everyone, and not just those that study the discipline. Stephen Levitt perhaps made it more accessible than ever before to the masses with his acclaimed “Freakonomics”, but your book does something different: while his explained phenomena, yours, does something else: it shows how each of us, even without knowing it, can act in a way that meets those ideas of an economist.

Lastly, you may be wondering why a university student like me who pays $1000 for textbooks should get your book for free. It’s a hard question to answer, but simply put, I want to read it as soon as I possibly can. And why don’t I just buy the book if that was the case? Because I love shopping for bargains, and getting a book for free is the ultimate one (you can call it an accretion of positive utility if you wish)!

And don’t worry, if you do send me the book, I’ll be sure to share to others about the ideas you express after I am done with it (or if you prefer, tell them to buy a copy for themselves).

Back to studying…

Thanks a lot,
Samir Nurmohamed

54 georg August 2, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Ich werde den deutschen Markt für das Buch erschließen.

55 Jay August 2, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Hi Tyler,

You should give me this book for free because, it may end up changing the world for the better. And a better world is better for you and for your progeny, ain’t it?

Let me explain why I think giving it to me will change the world and why I am not another pompous bstrd or a troll spammer.

I am an ‘economics is the most important science’ guy. – have always been. My degree is in computer science but it has been economics who has been my muse. Because I believe understanding her, using her principles and seducing her smartly is what smart living is all about.

You know, the added advantage is that I am a techie. And I am 25 – (relatively) young. Maybe if this book is good enough it will enable me to understand the existance of an unsatisfied niche and satisfy it? You could enable me to make the next craigslist or wikipedia by giving me this book – both, I argue socioeconomic successes rather than techical ones. Hence make the world better and make your life better.

And know what – the last two books I have read are The Box by Marc Levinson (find my blog post about that here) and the The Undercover Economist by Tim Hartford…So most probably I will buy your book — some years down the line. Which means I will surely read it and spread its idea if you give it to me for free – unlike many in the other 14 you will give it to. You can have your ideas spread quicker if you give it free to me now…. (and sell more of your books of course).

Your choice.
Let me know where you want my US shipping address mailed.


56 Keith August 2, 2007 at 12:22 pm

I should get the book for free, because otherwise I’m just going to read this at the library, and no adult should have to go to a library when there’s an opportunity for a free book at hand.

Also, I am an avid Economist who reads the Freakonomics blog and has read Freedomnomics and am looking to enhance my economic viewpoints.

57 Slavisa August 2, 2007 at 12:23 pm

You should send me your book because that’s the only way that I read it. I would not otherwise buy it because:
1) I have bought too many books lately.
2) I’ve read Levit and Landsburg books and am not into smartonomics that much anymore.
3) I read MR several times a day, your NYT and other occasional columns and guest blogger posts, and I’ve read a good deal of Creative Destruction — so my marginal utility of your extra piece of writing is not that big, I would say it’s less that $17.13.

58 john August 2, 2007 at 12:27 pm

You should give me a copy of the book because, as a sociologist, I’m highly skeptical about economists and economics.

59 Jay August 2, 2007 at 12:33 pm

Me again. Have sent you my mailing address. (Apologies for not seeing what you had said reg the address in ur post.)
And the link –

60 King Rat August 2, 2007 at 12:37 pm

I believe you should give me a copy of this book because you cannot count to 15. If you could count to 15, you’d have given away 15 books by now. I don’t know much about economics beyond my blog reading and micro- and macro- economics textbooks. All of that reading presumes that I am able to count however. So my reason is predicated on you not having written the chapter on how to count to 15.

61 Mike August 2, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Here is an economic justification of why you should send me a free copy of your book, based on the four criteria you outlined in your post:

1. The economic justification for a subsidy (such as a free book) is the market failure of a positive externality. If the marginal social benefit of my possession of the book is larger than the marginal private benefit of my possession of the book, I will under-invest in purchasing it, and the book will therefore not be purchased at a socially optimal quantity. The marginal social benefit of my possession of the book is larger than the marginal private benefit of my possession, because there are spillover benefits (assuming reading the book is beneficial) to other people if I read it. I can discuss it with my family and friends and teach others about its conclusions, so they will benefit from my possession of the book. I can conclusively state that I will not purchase the book at the listed price, although I would read it and discuss it with others if it were provided to me for free. Clearly, therefore, without subsidizing my possession of the book, the book will not be supplied at a socially optimal level, because the spillover benefits from my reading it to other people will not be realized without a subsidy. This argument justifies you subsidizing the book, not necessarily providing it for free. However, since the conditions you stated in your post do not outline partially defraying the cost of the book with a subsidy, the only possible subsidy according to your terms is to provide me with the book for free. Because my possession of the book generates positive externalities, you should subsidize my possession of it, and since the only subsidy possible is providing it to me for free, you should provide me with the book for free.

2. I believe that the argument above sufficiently establishes the reasons I should be provided the book for free.

3. I should get the book because it will beneficially enhance my knowledge of economics and its place in social relationships and other areas of application (there is a high marginal private benefit to me of getting the book) and I should get it for free because of the argument provided above (the marginal social benefit of my possession of the book is larger than the marginal private benefit, so the book should be subsidized to correct this positive externality, and since the only subsidy possible is the provision of a free book, I believe the book should be provided to me for free).

4. I fully believe in the reasons given above, and they are based on honest representations about myself and the best economic arguments I can make.

62 Andrea Carr August 2, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Super Awesome Mr. Cowen,

Beyond a tiny spider doubt, I deserve your book, free. This book will save me from eternal damnation. Mr. Brent (above me) doesn’t know the concept of torture I endure daily and currently (I’m in accounting class right now). With my torn shoes I work my dismal, plebian job in hopes that one day I might rise above the others with an Economics Degree. You’re book will give me the inspiration and hope I need to get through the next two excruiciatingly painful years of my life. :-)

Anyhow, I must get going my accounting professor is starting to give me the shady eye as though I’m not using my computer to type notes. Anyway, if nothing else good luck on the book sales. If this message registers as creepy, send all complaints to the Business College at Creighton University and tell them how their psychotic teaching methods and excessive pressure are driving students off the deep end. :-)

-Andy :-)

63 Josh August 2, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I think that I should be the recipient of the free text for two reasons. First, I have been loyally promoting your book on my blog. Second, I seem to be the only person who realizes that the book really isn’t free. I had to take the time to read 122 comments prior to writing this to ensure that I had a legitimate reason to beg for the “free” book.

64 Eaxe Avatar August 2, 2007 at 1:05 pm

I should get your book free because the price of $0 is the exact value I place upon yours and most every other book. I value the information contained therein, but the medium of books is not an efficient means of conveying information any longer, rather it is merely an outdated money-making method for the author and the publisher. If an author really cared about getting information in the hands of others, the author could simply post it on the internet for all to digest as desired. Why don’t you do that, Tyler? Will your publisher not allow it? The purchase of books is for suckers, or for those that mindlessly though benevolently want to enrich authors and publishers.

I look forward to receiving the book.

65 fmb August 2, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I’d give one to Ragout in your shoes, despite possibly his/her failure to fully follow instructions.

Can’t say I read them all, but it seems like some people should offer to, when done (and promptly):

1. leave it on a bookseller’s shelf
2. forward it to #16 on the list

66 Tim Worstall August 2, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Precisely because I am in neither the US nor Canada is why I should indeed get a free copy of the book. For there are very few reviewers of economics books in the UK press and I’m one of them (I did the Telegraph reviews of both Tim Harford’s and Bryan Caplan’s, as examples). There is thus a chance (but, alas, only a chance) that my possessing a copy will lead to a review, worth consiberably more than the $17 it will cost you (not including shipping).

However, exactly the same facts can be used to argue that I should not get one of your 15 copies: they are probably sufficiently persuasive that your publisher will send me a copy at no cost to you: when is is apprised of said facts, of course.

67 Matthew C. August 2, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Please do not send me a free book.

Plenty of more deserving folks elsewhere on this list. Also, I would feel better paying you for the benefit of getting to read your book instead of taking money out of your pocket in that transaction.

68 Omodudu August 2, 2007 at 1:22 pm

I should get your book for free because,
Interest in your work, so I would read it:
I have exposed your writing to a set of people (African readers) who wouldn’t have known anything about your book, your blog or your writing. I named your blog as my favorite Econ. blog 3 days ago here ( I also have over 10 backlinks to your blog.
I am broke:
Since I am African you would probably be contributing to the ongoing efforts to ‘save’ my continent from ‘itself’. If you do not give me your book I will probably get it for free anyway. If you give me a free book I would have a hard copy, which will be hard to email to my friends.
O. Omodudu.

69 Wulf August 2, 2007 at 1:33 pm

125 comments already? I guess I’ll ask the local library to get it and I can read it for “free”.

70 Salma Gundi August 2, 2007 at 1:46 pm

I think I’m ready to make big changes in my life – to approach tasks and people differently, to be more open and direct, and to not run away from any step that might accidentally lead me to success or change.

I think that discovering my inner economist might just be what I’ve needed all along.

I think that taking the time to write this comment and ask you to not just send this book to me, but send it to me for free is actually a step towards my over-all goal of going after what I want and keeping my own self-interest in mind, even if I have to experience failure along the way.

Thank you for the opportunity to challenge myself. I feel braver and more direct already. I’m sure your book could provide more strategems to success, other than asking authors for free stuff after reading about a giveaway on Freakanomics.

71 Eric August 2, 2007 at 1:55 pm

I’m starting MBA school at the end of August. In my prior life I was a screenwriter in Hollywood, meaning I have no quant skills and having read “Freakonomics” is the extent of my economics background. Plain and simple, I need all the help I can get. I find your blog to be educational as well as immensely entertaining. A free copy of your book could help to lay a better foundation of understanding and spark more interest and enthusiasm on my part before the tidal wave of accounting, statistics and economics hits me in September. Getting it free would really help me out because MBA school is about to send me spiraling into debt. (Very ironic when you think about it.)

72 zai August 2, 2007 at 2:05 pm

I will scan your free copy and distribute it in India, reaching the kind of intelligent customers who can only afford pirated Microsoft CDs, thereby ensuring relatively optimal price discrimination. I promise to share the proceeds from my sales with you. It must be free to offset the opportunity cost (partly through monetary incentives, mainly through signaling) of my spending time in scanning all those pages.

73 tom s. August 2, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Don’t send me the book for free. Although I have a blog that is occasionally read by people other than my close relatives I’d be unlikely to get my act together enough to post a review. And even if I did post a review, while I have no doubt that your book would be full of arguments I cannot refute, things I didn’t know, and have all kinds of other admirable qualities, I’d probably just compare it to Blockbusters and Trade Wars, which I really liked. And despite being a regular reader of MR I disagree with you on almost everything but can’t articulate why, so this extended version would just raise my blood pressure. It would probably be a good thing for me to read – open my eyes to new ideas and all that – but basically I’d rather just stay with my comfortable prejudice. And if I really wanted to read it I’m perfectly able to afford to buy it for myself. So there’s no good reason to send me the book for free….Unless you see yourself as some kind of contrarian that is.

74 Nirmali Sivapragasam August 2, 2007 at 2:29 pm

I should first start off by saying that I am neither an American nor a Canadian. I am a Sri Lankan. So although I know I can’t be considered, I would like to share my own reasons as to why I want/need this book and why I should have it for free.

I am become increasingly fascinated by the new branch of Economics, namely, Behavioral Economics. Needless to say, since I belong to a third-world country, neither have I heard that such a field exists nor is it a course taught in any of the local universities. As I presume this book covers quite a lot of Behavioral Economic theory/facts, I believe access to this book will help introduce this field to economists and students in Sri Lanka (SL).

SL is a unique country where behavior among people is so often very irrational that I believe a book like this, even if not addressing the problem specifically, can open the eyes of politicians, economists and policy makers to think up new ways to solve many of the country’s economic, political and ideological issues. Bare with me, as I wish to highlight a few of them to make my case as to why a country like Sri Lanka needs your book.

1) SL has suffered from an ethnic conflict for the past 25 years and – even if a peaceful solution is reached – there will remain the deep-rooted racist ideology and thinking. This affects our everyway life – albeit to a lesser extent that 20 years ago – in terms of job opportunities, immigration (brain-drain), marriage and even views on education. A book like this could open our eyes to broader issues in Behavioral Economics – and could indirectly help in solving a plethora of social problems in our country.

2) Our politicians are corrupt to the core – the economic incentives to stay in power far overpower moral and social ones – and there is no way of reducing it, until we UNDERSTAND it – and what better way than through a book so easily readable by the general (but English speaking )public.

3) There is no denying the fact that we are an intelligent population. Education is seen as paramount (to those who can afford it) to a successful life. A book like this can introduce us to the more interesting side of Economics – and even possibly lead to a possible unit in Behavioral Economics taught at local universities. You may think I am exaggerating – but I am an idealist – and without such thinking, how can any country rise from the ground?

I will now address why I believe I need this book for free: I am a recent graduate in Economics and am unemployed. While I hope to get a job in the near future – my savings are near nil. Further, since I live in the poorer part of the world with a continually depreciating exchange rate, a book like this is very expensive in rupee terms. It is unlikely anyone will bother buying a book like this, even if it was available, as being a thrifty nation, we would compare the cost to the price of other more ‘real’ Economics books and would conclude (or our parents would) that it would be much more ECONOMIC to spend the money on another more ‘theoretical’ (A.K.A boring) economics book.

So I guess what I’m trying to say in short, that why I need this book, and why I need it for free, is that I (or the people who will buy it for me) lack the INCENTIVE to buy a book like this even if it were made available to a country like mine. Hence since the OPPORTUNITY COST of buying this book = ($ 30 (the book price) x 112 (Exchange rate of Rs/$) = Rs 3360 + Sri Lankan sentiment for buying this book against another more “suitable” read (which unfortunately cannot be accurately measured in monetary terms), I think the cost of buying this book is pretty high.

This, I conclude, is my humble argument for needing this book – and needing it for free. Thank you.

Nirmali Sivapragasam (Age 21)

P.S. I congratulate you on using your knowledge on INCENTIVES, the main subject area in your book, to good use! What better way to explore incentives of people – than through the process of requesting a free copy of this very book! It has indeed worked… because now I REALLY want it!

75 mike August 2, 2007 at 2:34 pm

free is nice, sadly (fortunately?) the opportunity costs don’t support a well constructed response.

76 Boonton August 2, 2007 at 2:58 pm

I should get the book for free because it is in both of our interests. If I get the book for free I will feel obligated to read it. I probably will feel good about reading it because I enjoy economics and feel I should learn more about it (didn’t get my fill getting a Bach. in the subject). It is in your interest because I will probably write about some of your better ideas in the comments section of various other blogs. I will, of course, give you full credit which will result in either more book sales for you or at least greater name recognition. However I will not buy your book no matter what because, well I’m kind of cheap I suppose. So by giving me a free book you’re not costing yourself a sale!

77 happyjuggler0 August 2, 2007 at 3:11 pm

There’s no such thing as a free book.

However if your book demonstrates otherwise, you should send me a copy and I’ll write about it everywhere online granting you effective immortality as the man who proved Milton Friedman wrong.

78 Barn-Yen Li August 2, 2007 at 3:17 pm

We all know that no lunch is free.
And neither’s your new book, TC.
The price that you’ve set,
That you hope to get,
Is a moment’s amusement, or three.

Just by making your offer, you’ve won
Blogosphere links by the ton.
For readers to claim
We’ll get you more fame
By spreading the word? No, ‘tis done.

To be read is a writer’s great need;
If you send it, I promise I’ll read.
I _can_ keep this vow,
For I read your blog now,
And look forward to doing the deed.

As for your other great thirst,
Why “freely† I get to immerse?
As I’ve said, it’s not free.
So send it to me:
‘Tis my payment for writing this verse.

Yours cordially,

Barn-Yen Li

79 Nick August 2, 2007 at 3:36 pm

if some people don’t want a free copy, why are they wasting their breath? cowen isnt going to give a free book to people who say “dont give me a free book.”

80 Simon Elliott August 2, 2007 at 3:40 pm

My reason:

This book seems like the perfect start to get back into one of my favorite hobbies, discussing economics. Bonus: it is not a law book, per se. After 4 years billing hours at a law firm and going to Georgetown law school at night, then 2 months studying for the bar, I dont want to read another law book for a while.

81 Kurt August 2, 2007 at 3:46 pm

I have said for years that the best way to change the world is to raise kids well, then wait 40 years. I believe that your book has the potential to help people find new ways of thinking about their environment, at least in the economic sense.

You should send me a copy of your book because I promise to distill at least 3 30-minute lessons for my daughter’s 3rd grade class, and I will send my notes to you along with my subjective analysis of how the kids received the information.

Asking for something of value for free is kind of a taboo among people of my generation, but let me give it a try… After I read this book I will pass it along to teachers who will incorporate the parts that interest them in their lessons and their lives. This will influence even more children to consider things in different ways, hopefully leading to a population that will contribute more and better things to their communities.

Wow, that sounds sappy. I’m not a “do it for the kids” activist, really. I just love seeing my daughter learn and put her new ideas into practice.


82 Adolfo L August 2, 2007 at 3:55 pm

You should not send out any free book.

Very interesting time-consistency issue here. Your aim was to explore the idea of what it means to have a reason: 149 or so people responded, giving you plenty of material to work on. You got what you wanted: why should you now bear the cost of the information that you have already collected? Do you think you have a implicit contract that can somehow be enforced? Do you want to maintain your reputation with the readers? Do you hope the 135 or so readers who will not get the book for free will buy it? What’s your cost of repudiating the promise?

I’ll tell you what I’d like better: don’t send any free book, and spend the money on food and opera instead. Then you can write some posts on both topics. It would be ex-post optimal for you, and definitely optimal for me, since I lack any compelling reason to claim a free book.

83 JoshK August 2, 2007 at 4:07 pm

You should give the book to me for free because I sit at the end of a very busy row in a very busy firm. I will put the book in a place where it is visible when I am not reading it.

84 tde August 2, 2007 at 4:19 pm

I should get your book because the little roller on one of the legs of the table where I put my orchids fell off and now the table is lop-sided. From the looks of your book it is just the right thickness to solve this problem.

85 Michael Lee August 2, 2007 at 4:41 pm

I believe this book is tailored for a person like me as is this opportunity. The reason being that I currently have a girlfriend (FALL IN LOVE) whom I’ll be visiting (SURVIVE THE NEXT MEETING) for the first time in 2 months (we’re doing the long distance thing). She’s also going to dental (MOTIVATE YOUR DENTIST) school in a year. I’m living on a very tight budget since my inner economist said that morals were far more important to preserve than to sell-out to some pharmaceutical company if I were to eventually become a doctor. Therefore I live frugally and would like to make better judgements about my own livelyhood. I believe your book will most benefit a person like me. There must have been a reason you chose the subtitle you did. The appropriateness of the title of your book to my life should give you all the reason to send the book to my address.

86 Daniel Miles August 2, 2007 at 4:46 pm

I’m probably a bit late to jump on this ship, but it’s simple – I’m a New Zealand University student – the marginal utility a poor student at the bottom of the world would get from a new book is far superior to what any American would get!

87 jurisnaturalist August 2, 2007 at 4:58 pm

You should not send me a book for free. I am free to work and to produce with my labor the means for acquiring property, which your book (although not the contents) are a clear manifestation of. You, however have the liberty to dispose of your property as you see fit. If that entails making a gift, so be it.

However, I have already pre-ordered a copy of said tome. I bundled my purchase with the purchase of Dr. Caplan’s text. But Amazon has made me wait for his book until I could get yours. So, if you choose to compensate me for the unanticipated delay experienced in acquiring GMU Economics output, so be it. The new book will land in the hands of NCSU’s outstanding Senior in Economics, Mr. Jeffery Horn, who earlier this year gave me a copy of Knowledge and The Wealth of Nations, which I am enjoying.

Nathanael Snow

88 Greg N August 2, 2007 at 5:10 pm


After I finish reading the free book, I will leave the book laying somewhere around Nashville (maybe a Honky Tonk or in the Parthenon underneath Athena). Inside, I’ll include a note for the next reader to pass on the book as well and to email you where they leave it. I will submit to any monitoring scheme you cook up.

89 Elio August 2, 2007 at 5:12 pm

The reason why should you give me the book for free is geographical: I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I noticed that one person has already stated that he/she lives in Brazil as a reason, but I will go one step further to prove why I deserve it more than him/her. If you have watched international News lately, you know about the Airbus crash in Sao Paulo. This accident wasn’t just shocking and tragic. As a consequence a lot of concerns have been raised regarding the security of the airport, and there is a huge delay in all flights. Therefore, in order to improve the time-utility of the whole population (I mean, I am part of the population, ain’t I?), I think I deserve to read a good book, and yours is part of my most-wanted-list. And finally, the book might be for free, but the shipment fee certainly won’t. The final total cost of the book will be somewhere around the same as for you guys in U.S., so you don’t have to worry about giving benefits to a stranger. Let’s just say you are making things fair.

90 Hays Lawson August 2, 2007 at 5:17 pm

I’m cheap. Coupling my cheapness with several recent financial setbacks results in very high unlikelihood that I’ll purchase your book. Consequently, giving me a book will not cause you or your publisher to lose a sale.

But cheapness is not my only quality. I’m also a thoughtful reader. So I will read your book. If I like it, I’ll recommend it to my friends, though to be perfectly honest, if my friends are interested, most likely they’ll ask to borrow my copy rather than buy one themselves.

91 Not A Contest Entry August 2, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Wow- would someone inform the graduate students about public libraries? Seriously people, log off and leave campus for a few hours. You’re investing/borrowing thousands of dollars in tuition/”living costs” and you can’t find money for a book? Gee, that explains why all the campus bars are completely vacant Thursday through Sunday nights. And why they charge such low, low prices.

A few observations:
It seems that in appealing to an economist/author that you would have to prove:
1) you WOULD RECEPTIVELY READ the book if you receive it,
2) BUT you wouldn’t be interested in buying the book at present (though later gift copies to everyone you know would be appealing).
3) You have an influential connection to some large social network that would also like the book if it only knew more about the book,
4) Poverty might be a bad claim as it reflects a lack of social connections and influence. And yes, that includes student poverty.
5) Blog fandom suggest that you just don’t want to buy the book, but probably will. That’s kind of hurtful, really. You’ll take the free blog insights, but when it comes time to reward someone you truly enjoy, you’re going to dodge the modest book fee.

92 Ryan August 2, 2007 at 5:33 pm

I would want a free copy of your book as I am a math teacher at a high school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. By having a free copy of your book, not only could I read it in my spare time (as I’m off this month preparing for September!), but the knowledge that I would gain from it would be passed on to my students. You’d be like an honourary teacher in a foreign country!

93 Addy Cameron-Huff August 2, 2007 at 5:47 pm

You shouldn’t send me the book because there are more deserving people. I can afford to buy your book and just might do so.

I’ve been reading your blog on and off. Good stuff, makes me think your book could be one of the interesting ones to add to my Amazon wishlist. Best of luck w/ the book sales and the site!

P.S.: Good promotional idea. I was tempted to post why you should send me one (who wouldn’t be?) but really, the other people are far more deserving.

94 Cameron August 2, 2007 at 6:34 pm

You should give me your book for free because my table wobbles, and “Discover Your Inner Economist” appears to be just the right thickness to remedy that problem. Then, while eating breakfast (and maybe even dinner), I could stare at the cover of your book as it stabilizes my table. I expect this will solve all of my financial woes just as Bill Murray used “Baby Steps” to cure himself in “What About Bob.” In fact, having only seen pictures of the book, and never even beheld its awesome power in my hands, I have already saved $0.60 by writing this post instead of going to get a soda. Imagine the benefits of having your book literally at my feet for at least one meal a day. Milton Friedman beware — my Inner Economist is about to be unleashed!!

95 Alex Ambroz August 2, 2007 at 7:09 pm

I’m making an executive decision to begin voting here on who should receive a free book. I’d love to get a copy but it would wait unnecessarily in line behind some other books I need to get to. Therefore, I vote that Nirmali Sivapragasam should get a copy, as he has the most interesting story and could put it most to good use.

96 Anonymous August 2, 2007 at 7:32 pm

I should get a free copy of the book for at least two reasons:

First, unlike certain other supplicants in this space, I refuse to make self-serving declarations in order to receive a free copy of the book.

Second, I at least waited for a decent interval to pass before making any self-serving declarations in order to receive a free copy of the book.

Third, I have given at least two reasons I should receive a free copy of the book.

Yours truly,


97 J. Gladieux August 2, 2007 at 7:58 pm

I should get a free copy of your book because:
– It will benefit you: as a member of a large book club I associate with a lot of people who would like to fall in love, survive their next meeting, and motivate their dentists. When it’s my turn to choose a book I will recommend yours. Oprah will get wind of it and you will be able to retire rich and famous.
– It will benefit me: I will have the pleasure of reading your book without the need to directly pay for it. I guess I’m paying an opportunity cost as I write this.
– It will result in a further positive-sum exchange: The club members will trade their dollars for something they perceive as having greater value. You (and well, your publisher, too) will trade your book for something you value more.

I should get it for free because:
Since you will have done me a favor, I will have incentive to reciprocate by recommending the book to my book club.

The reasons stated above are true and sincere because I believe economic incentives play a very significant role in peoples’ lives, whether they realize it or not. This is why I’m such a fan of your blog.

98 IVAN August 2, 2007 at 8:10 pm


99 IVAN August 2, 2007 at 8:11 pm


100 Mike August 2, 2007 at 9:07 pm

You should not send me your book because it is just cashing in on the Freakonomics phenomenon that is full of econ jargon, too clever observations by half, and I am sure Steve Sailer will come out and debunk a lot of the things you say followed by two up n coming grad students to back him up.

101 Marianne coleman August 2, 2007 at 10:06 pm

Hi Tyler,

…otherwise I have to get it at the library…
and I’d rather have my own copy…

…I’m still in Auburn, I tried to say you were an Austrian scholar…


102 Chaz Littlejohn August 2, 2007 at 11:00 pm

Dr. Cowan,

I’m currently an undergrad attending UNC-Chapel and I’m going to be an Econ 10 TA next semester. I would like a free copy of your book so I can give it away to the student with the best answer as to why they are most deserving of a free copy of your book. Thank you.

Chaz Littlejohn

103 Prithvi August 3, 2007 at 2:46 am

Professor Cowen,
Your book has been on my Amazon wishlist since June 26, 2007. If you give me a book, I will write you an Amazon review. Another professor gave me a free book since I couldn’t find it in India and I wrote him a review. If you choose to give me your book I will reveal the professor and the book.

I will not always be an Indian student of straitened means – I am going to get a masters in finance in London starting next month and once I am done I will be able to better afford my book habit and will buy the paperback editions of your book for my friends.

I also plan to write a book soon and I will be happy to send you a copy to return this kind favour!


104 xu August 3, 2007 at 5:47 am

That’s a pity you don’t offer copies outside of N America although I do want to put a good reason to get the book for free. Why should I have one? Because I haven’t had it or even haven’t read it. This is a very dangerous thing in a world everyone values information/howing-what. Why free? Again, because I haven’t read it. I think trying it for free before I know it well is a rational decision. But I am doing something not that rational now, since I already know your first set of free copies have gone and you haven’t said you are going to send some outside of N America.

105 Elio August 3, 2007 at 10:02 am

This post is against that Milton Friedman saying “…there is such a thing: a free book…”

106 fkaJames August 3, 2007 at 11:24 am

Professor Cowen: I do not wish to receive a copy of your book at no cost. It is my belief that by providing free copies of your book you slightly devalue the book to those readers who purchase it at some price.

As a former employee of a book publisher, I am sadly aware that publishing executives do not believe there is intrinsic value in books. Put another way, your publisher will be happy if s/he can sell your book profitably (i.e., revenues exceeding fixed and variable costs), but s/he would be equally happy selling boxes of dog feces if the revenues generated could match those from the sales of your book while costs remained the same (or were less, since dog feces is likely to be far more cheaply acquired than economic insight, though I haven’t seen a case successfully made yet that the one is more useful than the other).

Therefore, the value in your book is that which is ascribed to it by some subset of the population that has an interest in your content, and by providing it free to an admittedly small proportion of your potential customers, you provide an unforeseen windfall to this very small group (many of which have professed that they would not actually spend the money to purchase your book) while providing no extra value to your paying customers. In essence, you’ve remaindered your own book to a select group of mostly non-customers, while providing no reward to loyal customers (i.e., those who have purchased your book).

Contrast this with the offer Levitt and Dubner made to purchasers of Freakonomics: they provided signed bookplates, which apparently do have value to some purchasers (though for the life of me I cannot understand why).

I do appreciate that you have successfully made some of your regular blog readers look quite foolish in this exercise, so for that you have my commendations.

107 Bruce Himmelreich August 3, 2007 at 3:29 pm

You should send me your book because I will give it to my son. He is a college senior who consequently has no experience of the real world and needs to overcome years of liberal arts indoctrination that any form of economic thought is immoral.

108 Pete August 3, 2007 at 8:40 pm

August 2 was my birthday. My wife had a big day planned and I didn’t get to do any blog reading.

It’s nice to receive a gift on your birthday, and books are always high on my list. In fact, your book was on my birthday list but no one picked it up…

109 Peter Warne August 4, 2007 at 2:45 am

A single Nigerian spammer? You should examine your willingness to embrace stereotypes. As an economist, that may not necessarily be a good thing.

And then: Amazon does not ship worldwide? Not only does Amazon ship worldwide, it has stores in such far-flung places as Britain, Germany, Japan, China and even France. Pardon me for pointing this out, but reading is not a monopoly enjoyed only in North America.

I ordered your book from There is a delay. Talk to your publishers.

110 karen August 5, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Lifestyle change earlier in the year means that Amazon will not get my money, Tesco’s (rather large supermarket, half the size of Walmarts) won’t get my money so I have to either wait until an enterprising ebayer sells it, someone dumps it on a local park bench, bookcrossing, someone offers to swap, bookhopper, or………you ignore the fact that the postal address has a post code rather than a zip code and inadvertantly mail one to the uk….

111 Zach Lynn August 5, 2007 at 9:22 pm

OK, so I’m a little late to the party on this, but I just came up for air after a week of dissertation writing…

At any rate, I teach social science research methods to the very gifted subset of a gifted PUBLIC high school in NYC. Our budget is, well a public school budget, yet I want to share with my students examples of fine social science research (and an endorsement on Levitt and Dubner’s blog is good enough for me!).

Please ship a free one, and I promise to make my kids analyze it, or use it for a project, or attempt to replicate your findings, or, if it’s real good, all of the above.

— Zach Lynn

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113 Hurricane August 2, 2008 at 10:58 am

First president Lady is an excellent interpretation by Mr.Inder Dan Ratnu. He should be applauded for making this.The only thing that prevents my awarding it 10 points, is its far-too-short length.Inder Dan Ratnu is a maverick writer from India.His narratives have been put down with a characteristic boldness and with a profound grasp of the issues.Articulate and honest, he can be considered as one of the most imaginative authors in the field of modern political fiction.

114 29mmch April 19, 2009 at 7:40 am


ps: i typed my e-mail address incorrect in previous post

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