I was re-downloading the trial version of Scrivener
today and out of curiosity, clicked on the 'buy' link
just to see how much it was. (I've been using Scrivener since it released public beta versions for Windows, and have liked it enough to stick through its initial crash-ridden betas to its free trial versions. The corkboard outliner has probably been the most significant gamechanger in the way I write since typing became easier than hand-writing.)
It costs $40, which is ₹2181 according to current exchange rates. The website actually offers a choice to be able to buy it in INR, and have priced it at ₹2,406.
Which is around half a month's rent for me. On the other hand, $40 was nowhere close to half a month's rent for me even when I was sharing a room in a pretty cheap apartment back in the US. (It was half a month's groceries, though.)
I remember when I first went to the US I would constantly convert all the prices to rupees, and in addition, try to figure out how much bread I could buy with the amount. It was a sort of easy comparison because at the time $1 = ₹45, which was around the price of a fancy whole wheat loaf of bread from a bakery in Delhi. On the other hand the only way I was able to get a similar price of bread in the US was scrounging in the past-expiry date bins at the co-op grocery stores, and even then I think the lowest prices were around $1.50 or $2.
I've been trying to read up on purchasing parity, and economic indices, and ways to compare wealth and lack thereof across different currencies and nations and economies and classes in a way that makes sense to me. So far the only way to make money seem real is to figure out what it can buy. In general, for instance, the same amount of money will get me a higher-end and more up-to-date electronic item in the US than it will in India. On the other hand, the amount of money with which I can buy a bunch of methi in Delhi will get me triple that amount of methi in my grandmom's village, but not even a leaf of methi in the US.
And then there's earning capacity to compare, which makes the whole thing even more hard to figure out, especially since I've never worked per hour in India the way I have in the US. (And being a freelancer means you have to factor in the days you don't work along with what you make in the days you do.) I was paid between $10 to $20 per hour depending on the job I was doing, which means $40 is between 2 to 4 hours work for me. (Remembering that this was between 7 to 2 years ago.) Minimum wage in the US seems to be
between $5.15 and $7.25, so that means the software is equated to around 7.7 hours of work. Meanwhile in India we don't even have standard minimum wages, but going with the labour ministry's recommendations
, that's a minimum of ₹166 per day. So it would take 25 days of work to be able to earn the amount needed to buy Scrivener. (Hah. This comparison becomes all the more farcical once you start thinking about comparative literacy rates, and also that there is no non-English Scrivener version.)
I know there are lots of sensible economists and whatnots who have probably written about this in many places (and if you have links or book recs I'd love to know), but especially when it comes to the anglophone internet which tends to price instantly deliverable stuff like software and music and ebooks in dollars, I'm very curious about what $40 means to people outside the US.
I know there are writers in the US who found Scrivener desirable but unaffordable
, but I also know there are a lot of USian writers who have found it buyable, and not all of them are professional writers to the degree that they are living off of their writing.
I also can't think of a single person I personally know in India who I think would buy this software, though I know several professional writers and students for whom it would be potentially very useful. Some of them definitely have ₹2,400 to spare, and I can see them spending it on a dinner at a fancy restaurant, or jewellery, or some clothes. But paying for software is... not something I see the people around me often do. So I'm not even sure what affordable software really is; what price it starts and ends at. (See also, ebook pricing and my previous discussions thereof.)
What does $40, or ₹2,400 mean to you, where you live, in terms of what you spend on rent, or food, or, I guess, software? How many loaves of bread can you buy with it? (and is bread something found at every corner store, or one of those exotic things you have to locate a bakery for since everyone normally buys atta from the kirana shop and makes phulkas?)