The accounting error

When I got my first Kindle reader, I downloaded a bunch of free e-books. This was my dream come true – free books that I could simply acquire by clicking a button.

Naturally, there was a trade-off here. Sure, those books weren’t of the highest quality. They were often poorly translated or sloppily edited. They had formatting errors and these aberrations often got in the way of my reading. I started reading a few of those free titles, but rarely did I got to the end.

Looking back, I had made an accounting error. Sure, the books were free, but I paid for them in the time I invested in reading them. On average, a book takes about 6 hours to read. If the book was of low quality, those 6 hours are wasted. Given that a quality e-book costs about Rs 400, with every bad free e-book, I saved Rs 400, but lost 6 hours. Ergo, I valued my time at the paltry sum of a little over Rs 66 (1$) per hour.

Anything offered free often comes at a higher price that is invisible to us.

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