The New York Times article on used books is interesting. As a buyer of books, both used and new, from Amazon or mom and pops stores, I can tell you that I usually buy a used book when it is something I am only mildly interested in and wouldn’t have bought new.
This notion, making use of an opportunity to acquire something cheaply or for free because your interest isn’t enough to warrant a full purchase, can be extended to many mediums. I believe this is the reasoning behind bootleg DVDs, illegal downloads, and the eBay craze. When the film industry says they lost out on billions of dollars in sales, they are assuming these people would’ve bought the film legitimately for a $20 pricetag. They probably wouldn’t have. But a bootleg DVD at $5 to $10 is an impulse buy.
Businesses should use this tendency toward cheap goods for their advantage. Most companies would benefit form offering a cheaper alternative to their standard product or service. They probably believe sales of the lesser alternative would hurt their profit. I have been at a store with the opportunity to buy a new or used video game and went with the newer copy because the $5 savings wasn’t enough. The opportunity for a used product created the sale of a new product.
What do you purchase used? What do you not?