Fountain pen inks are one such example. There are many inexpensive inks in the market, and many of those brands offer a very wide selection of colors. However, the business of fancy inks packaged like exquisite perfume is flourishing despite their color charts or their intrinsic quality might not be different from those cheaper ones. Diamine in Europe and Noodler´s in North America could easily be the rational inks of choice if we only paid attention to the actual price per milliliter of ink. And sure enough, their selection of colors is wide and rich—wider, actually, than those by most other brands.
Japan, paradoxically, might have a more limited market. Paradoxically I say given the fascination felt in the West for dyes made by Japanese companies. The big three pen companies –Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor— have inexpensive inks for the domestic market, but with a very limited selection of colors. Interestingly enough, the cheapest ink in Japan, other than buying 350 ml bottles by Pilot, is the German-made Pelikan 4001 series.
The table shows the local prices of the inks mentioned on the text. Figures in bold face show the local prices in the local currency for those inks. The exchange rates used for the currency conversions are those of September 11th, 2011, as shown on the following table
The motto “think globally, act locally” might also be a good idea for the ink business in order to regain some common sense. Think globally to be aware of the market variations, and act locally to keep your buying power in good health.