Douglas Preston has been taking heat for his surprisingly acid comment in the New York Times vis a vis e-book pricing:

“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing,” said Douglas Preston, whose novel “Impact” reached as high as No. 4 on The New York Times’s hardcover fiction best-seller list earlier this month. “It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something.”

I won’t get into Wal-Mart or e-book pricing, but reading it I couldn’t help think of another form of American consumer: The driver. Just try floating the idea of a federal gas tax hike, simply to keep up with inflation (and, more ambitiously, to cover the actual costs of driving).

Then there’s this, via Streetsblog.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 15th, 2010 at 9:43 am and is filed under Etc.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Entitlement”

  1. Josh R Says:

    In both cases it’s a matter of perceived cost vs actual cost. People perceive the e-book to be cheaper because of the lack of printing and distribution costs, so there’s a sense that it should be significantly cheaper.

    Similarly, people perceive the parking spots to be basically free, so they see the meters as existing only to take in revenue, not realizing the role they play in keeping parking spots available by making all day parking expensive and inconvenient.

    I don’t have a good solution to either issue, short of forcing everybody to actually learn about a given subject before opening their mouths.

  2. Peter Smith Says:

    i think it’s pretty ridiculous to beat up on ‘the American consumer’ — we generally have only a very small say in how things work.

    and the idea that raising the gas tax is something impossible to do is just false. it’s always been false, and it will always be false. it’s just a right-wing talking point, accepted as truth for some reason, but people will pay what they’re told to pay — it’s as simple as that. just need a little leadership.

    (and it’d help if google used the active voice to talk about who installed, and then removed, the white house solar panels.)

  3. ToddBS Says:

    Oh please. If you honestly believe that Peter, just roll over and keep quiet. From your own statements there is apparently nothing we can do about it so why even bring it up?

  4. Charlie Says:

    I personally think e-books SHOULD be cheaper because you’re actually getting less for your money. Not only are they cheaper to produce since they don’t have to be manufactured, they don’t need physical stores in order to be sold, only websites. Plus, you can’t sell an e-book to someone else once you’re done with it or lend it to a friend. So you’re getting something that was cheaper to produce and has more restrictions on what you can do with it. Therefore, it should be much cheaper. No one wants to stiff the author, but why would I pay the same for something virtual as I would for something physical? It doesn’t make sense.

  5. Don Says:


    In terms of e-book creation…

    I work in IT. We have a document mangement server that allows us to scan anything into PDFs. It has 2TB worth of storage, and cost us just over 1k.

    Throw in a couple hundred dollars worth of server accessories such as a UPS bettery system and such.

    We then rent a copier, and we bought an Imaging software suite that links the server to the copier. That allows us to scan documents into the server, and the PDFs created are also text searchable.

    So all in all, a small publishing start-up could probably get all of this setup for just over 10k if I am not mistaken.

    I don’t know what kind of monthly costs you may run into, but electrical can’t be much. Space wise, you could do this out of a small apartment. Your biggest headache would be data transfer rates and internet charges.

    As for the actual e-book creation, all I need is an unbound print-out of the book to scan, or if the layout is made in Word or Publisher, I can use the MS Office plug-in from the Imaging Software to create the PDF right on the PC.

    So seriously, e-book costs are quite minimal. No overheads to figure out, no wastes to calculate, no shipping and warehouse storage costs. Just whatever I stated above which should be a one-time only charge, a one-time web-site store portal design, paying the author, and monthly bills for internet, electrical, and web hosting (OR you could get another server and do that yourself for probably another $500 to $1000).

  6. aj Says:

    It is exactly this attitude, that as consumers, “we generally have only a very small say in how things work,” which is a huge portion of the problem. That attitude allows each individual to go through life, day in, day out, doing what is easy, rather than what is right, and justifying their selfishness all the way because what difference can one person make? It is sickening.
    The film Food Inc. makes the point that every time an individual buys groceries, every time they purchase free-range eggs or a Big Mac, they are casting a vote. Every time you buy the cheap $4, plastic, Chinese made thing-a-ma-jig rather than the quality, $6, sustainably produced version, you are casting a vote for the world you want to live in. Don’t cast your vote, then complain that you don’t have one.

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



February 2010
« Jan   Mar »

No, you probably won be compensated one million dollars; however, with the right blend of negotiating skills and patience, your efforts will be substantially rewarded!I have seen up to forty thousand dollars added to starting compensation through diligent negotiations. It is a way to significantly raise your standard of living and sense of self, simply by