I received an interesting email today. I should mention that I buy his premise. Seems he read about my using Elance.com and was concerned about shipping these sorts of design jobs outside the United States.
I agree that this is a big issue. Part of the problem with Elance.com is that it can be biased toward countries where a few hundred dollars is more than someone makes in a month. For linguistic reasons (i.e. they speak English), India seems to be one of the larger service providers.
Here's the problem: In many cases, Western (read: U.S., Canadian, British) companies cannot compete. Creating an e-merchant website for $350 is going to be too little cash for too much work.
For the record, I have posted three jobs. One went to an Indian company, one went to an artist in Washington, and the third is likely to go to a company in New York. Of the three bids selected, none of them were the cheapest. Neither were they the most expensive. They offered what I requested.
The Indian company (who shall remain nameless; see below) was in direct competition with a company in Florida. Unfortunately, the Floridians didn't provide a mock-up (as promised) by its own self-imposed deadline and I needed to make a decision.
My preference is that I would like to support other small business owners. In contrast to that assertion, while not on a shoestring, the Degree Press budget is small for websites (and, yes, there is still one more website to develop). It was not a choice of either I pay an Indian company $350 or I pay a U.S. company $500. It was either I pay an Indian company $350 or I do it myself.
Also and importantly, for the parts that really matter (editing, typesetting, cover design), I will be going directly to service providers that specialize in books.
So it was a great question without, for me, an easy answer. I am constantly amazed at the business side of things and the choices that we must all make.