Pay what feels right

Frederic Laloux, on paying for his e-book:

There are books I bought that ended up not meaning much to me, while others have been deeply meaningful, even transformative.

Paying the same price [for both] has often felt a bit odd. Somehow, it would have felt right to pay less than the list price in some cases, and more in others. That’s why with the e-version of this book, I came up with the idea of offering the possibility of paying what feels right.

This concept is very much in line with a trend called the Gift Economy. It makes for more meaningful relationships, even with people we don’t meet, like an author. Paying a fixed price is rather transactional. It doesn’t honor the personal exchange that somehow happens between an author and a reader.

“Pay-What-Feels-Right” invites us to pause and reflect on the value we bring to one another, even at a distance through a book. I feel it brings some soul back into what is otherwise simply a business transaction.

For some of us, the freedom to give comes with just a bit of anxiety: what if I give too little, or too much? 

If this is the case for you, I’ve put down two tips you might find helpful. I share this in a playful spirit. There is no “right” or “wrong” amount, so take this lightly, relax, and have fun. 🙂

Frederic Laloux, “Tips for paying what feels right”

I’ve been thinking lately about how to implement this in other domains, such as software-as-a-service. It’s somewhat common today for prices to be negotiated, but rare for prices to be set by customers. Institutional buyers are specifically prohibited from “donating” money. Then again, donations are not tax-deductible if “gifts or services were provided in return”. And when is it considered discriminatory if different customers pay different prices?

I like the idea of “pay what feels right” as a type of negotiation, where the price is chosen using a framework of mutual benefit rather than mutual scarcity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.