The self-help industry is defined by ambiguity! I'm sure you've noticed by now
I would argue that this is real business! In my opinion, it's up to the consumer to educate themselves and decide what is valuable. Cause really, it doesn't matter what I consider to be valuable, it's what the consumer considers to be valuable.
A prime example: bottled water. I used to run a small snack store and one day I decided to do an experiment. I bought a case of bottled water, 24 pack. The unit price was $0.15 per. Put a $1.00 price tag on them and they sold out the next day. Did I provide these people with value? I don't think so. There's FREE tap water upstairs and they decided to spend their hard earned money instead. No one complained so I can only assume that they considered to have paid for value.
Essentially, and this is gonna sound rough, it's not up to me to provide value for someone else. It's up to me to provide the product and it's up to the consumer to find the value in it. Whether I consider the product valuable or not is irrelevant. Another example, I'm selling my paperbacks which I consider to be very valuable. Considering I can't even give them away, my opinion clearly does not matter.
Going back to what escapeplan said, I'd say yes. Creating a need and selling a product is providing value.
That's how your gonna succeed in business. If you ever delve deep into business, you'll quickly find out some awful truths.
1. Someone will always sell at a loss. Not every business owner knows what they're doing. Low-ballers can ruin a market (insects are finished on eBay).
2. No one cares what it cost you, low OR high. No one cared that I was marking up the price on those bottles of water by over 650%. Nobody cared when I sold a frame that cost me $18 cash to make plus my time for $20. In an even worse case, no one cared that I sold $100 (my actual cost) for $8.
3. Value is in the eye of the consumer. The value that you provide has to be the value that the consumer is looking for. Otherwise, you might as well provide nothing.
4. If it looks easy, count on tons of people doing it already. Still looks easy? Imagine a forest with millions of seedlings struggling to rise above the canopy. Are you going to be one of the few that make it?
Anyhow, I'm done crushing spirits for today. Safe than sorry!