The market for books just got more perfect

I just clicked on Amazon’s ‘add to my shopping cart’ and got told that four books had changed price.  Usually they have gone up.  Or that’s been my experience.  But things are a-changing as you can see from the excerpt below.  Is this deflation, increasing copying, competition from free content on the net.  Who knows.  But it – and the fact that some of the prices are such odd numbers – are perhaps signs of the times.

Please note that the price of Unleashing Change: A Study of Organizational Renewal in Government has decreased from $29.95 to $26.95 since you placed it in your Shopping Cart. Items in your cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on their product detail pages.

Please note that the price of Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk has increased from $23.96 to $29.95 since you placed it in your Shopping Cart. Items in your cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on their product detail pages.

Please note that the price of No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart: The Surprising Deceptions of Individual Choice has increased from $13.57 to $14.96 since you placed it in your Shopping Cart. Items in your cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on their product detail pages.

Please note that the price of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States has decreased from $18.45 to $17.63 since you placed it in your Shopping Cart. Items in your cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on their product detail pages.

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Philly
Philly
13 years ago

God, you have a boring mind. What happened to you?

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

Well Philly, that seems a tad impolite on the face of it. Or do you and God have some ongoing beef and this seemed like the best place to take it up?

Your patience for coloned titles seems great Nicholas. I can’t stand the sight of the bastards any more.

Vee
Vee
13 years ago

Given there is no .AU domain for amazon, unless I’m missing something, how does Amazon work in the Aus market, do you have to do currency conversions to work out how much you are paying, etc.

I often look at signing up to Amazon but it does not make clear what payment methods are acceptable, at least on the first registration form. The form last time I looked had several screens you had to click through to sign up to Amazon and what information you have to give on the extra screens remains unknown to me, thus I have never bothered to sign up to Amazon and if this remains the state of affairs, I’m not sure I ever will.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
13 years ago

Amazon US does the currency conversions for you these days. Amazon generally ships quickly whether you go via the US or UK, but the UK mail is far more efficient than the US mail. Books typically take a week to ten days from the UK, two to three weeks from the US. However, the US is often cheaper. Recently I had to order a book (UK publisher) for a person in the UK. Even though Amazon UK was offering free postage, it was still cheaper to buy from Amazon US and have it shipped to the UK. Interesting that two parts of the same company compete against each other in this way.

MikeM
MikeM
13 years ago

Andrew,

Is this a legacy of the long-ago day when British and US publishers divided up the world between them? British ones got the exclusive right to publish in what used to be the British Empire, while American publishers got the rest of the world.

Web-facilitated mail-order has made a nonsense out of this, but do publishers still set different wholesale prices in the two markets? If so, it isn’t Amazon competing against itself; it is the publisher.

Amanda
13 years ago

I don’t know about these specialist books but 90% of time anything I want is cheaper from the Book Depository, based in UK but with free overseas shipping. I heart free overseas shipping. My experience of buying from both is the UK take about a week, and the Amazon ones can take several.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
13 years ago

Mike – Maybe that’s the explanation. And I guess for small price differences people aren’t going to bother buying from another country. But in this case for an academic book the saving was about $20 in buying from Amazon US.

Ian
Ian
13 years ago

Hi Nick,

No – you just got lucky – when I was doing the same thing the other day, four of my itmes ‘stored’ in my shopping cart went up in price. The price in your shopping cart will always be the current price.

Like any store, Amazon have sales, and have other price reductions at other times.

Amazon are missing out here by not having an automated email when the price of one of your selections falls – thereby prompting your purchase.

Cheers

Ian

Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

As noted above amazon uses ordinary credit cards.

Reasons to be cheerful (about amazon) 1 2 3: My account allows me to have a wish list so big its frightening but it makes it easy to go back and find something later. It has a gift list too so I can tag things I’d like to send to others in other places. I can have more than one “send to” address. It stores my credit card number so I don’t have to enter my credit card each time. On the one occassion I had a package of over $200 worth go astray (to an overseas address and it may have been half my fault) they refunded the money without making me jump through any hoops at all – extemely refreshing and loyalty inducing. They have CDs and DVDs. They have stuff when I want it – not 3 to 6 months later. They are always at least 30% cheaper than local.

I find when I order by cheapest mail that frequently, but not always, orders arrive within 7 days on my doorstep. If I sit down at midnight on a Saturday and make an order from amazon its usually on the doorstep the following monday week. Mostly thats quicker than if I’d have driven around- petrol plus parking – to find a local bookshop that had the item and paid up to 50% more. Its the on my doorstep I love – because it means I don’t have to go to a post office during business hours and show ID. Mostly I’m nowhere near my local PO in business hours.

Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

amanda – I haven’t tried Book Suppository – I should check it out.

How would it add up with my latest amazon order? – sent last week. Total $97.90aus + postage $35aus

1 of: The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger [Paperback] By: Marc Levinson (Author)$10.17

1 of: Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica (33 1/3) [Paperback] By: Kevin Courrier (Author)$8.76

1 of: Music from Big Pink: A Novella (33 1/3) [Paperback] By: John Niven (Author)$10.17

1 of: Improving Healthcare Using Toyota Lean Production Methods: 46 Steps for Improvement, Second Edition [Paperback] By: Robert Chalice (Author)$30.24

1 of: Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer’s New Orleans [Hardcover] By: Susan Spicer (Author), Paula Disbrowe (Author)$23.10

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

“I havent tried Book Suppository – I should check it out.”

Stock up on KY then champ.

Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

and what Andrew Norton said. From long experience in the “good old days” of exchanging music tapes and CDs before digital downloads the USA internal mail is as slow as a wet week most times. Coast to coast international is ok.

Whereas Australian internal mail will be delivered over night to most places (except remote) the USA mail will take 3 days to get anywhere internal even between large cities.

Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

fdb – stop stalking me and attempting online identity theft. I’ve been mistaken for you elsewhere once this week already. Stop asking me to joining your facebook and please stop sending me those “personal” photos of you in front of the video cam. And that Google earth link to street view is NOT the front of my house.

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

“And that Google earth link to street view is NOT the front of my house.”

So that’s not your pink Humvee with ivory rims? I’m disappointed.

Amanda
13 years ago

FXH, the prices from Book Dep. Converted into AUD using xe.com.

The Box $15.32
Capt Beefheart $9.43
Music from Big Pink $12.92
Improving Healthcare – unavailable
Crescent City Cooking: $32

Total rounded up: $71

I ordered a couple of books recently off Amazon ‘cos the BD didn’t have them but like I say it almost always does. The new book of Dylan art was cheaper from Amazon even factoring in postage. The Amazon books I got were “The Slaves’ War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves” by Andrew Ward and “Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba … And then Lost it In the Revolution.” For both I saw the authors interviewed on The Daily Show.

Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

eh by gum yer right young lassie (with Two Ronnies or Goodies accent) I’ll give it a burl next time – usually I like to throw in a CD or DVD though. And I was very impressed with amazons dignified refund experience and I like to whole “what others who bought this bought” thing.

Amanda
13 years ago

I like it because I almost never buy a couple of things at the the same time which might make the shipping economical. I usually just order one book in dribs and drabs when I see one I’m interested in so its good to just pay the $15 or whatever without postage.

Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

Yeah I can see – anyway the volume redutions for postage – if any – on amazon – are too hard to game right. I agree being able to order one titsy thing at a time is appealing and makes it less embarrassing than saying “That package cost me $150”

Still saying every second day; “It only cost me $18” might wear a bit thin after a while.

Vee
Vee
13 years ago

Thanks Nicholas Gruen. That’s disappointing that it relies only on credit cards.

Amanda
13 years ago

There is also Amazon Payments, a PayPal-like service. I haven’t used it but I imagine you can link it to a savings account like PayPal.
https://payments.amazon.com/sdui/sdui/home

Jonno
Jonno
13 years ago

I find abebooks.com or abebooks.de (don’t know if they are the same) the cheapest (I havent tried Book Depository). It is a ring/collection of individual sellers and many books are seconds or second hand – I’ve never had a problem with quality.

Not only is the price of the book cheaper, postage is usually way cheaper to Oz as you can check the different postage rates in the different stores – all on the same page. I have at least halved my book costs since I stopped using Amazon.

G. H. Schorel-Hlavka
13 years ago

One of the reasons, as I understand it, a book often is cheaper from overseas then from Australia, even so published in Australia is that the (Australian)Author of the book gets far less royalties from books published overseas then in Australia. As such, a publisher may rather have the books shipped from overseas to Australia if the reduction in payment to the Author by this makes it worthwhile.
.
As Author of books in the INSPECTOR-RIKATI

G. H. Schorel-Hlavka
13 years ago

Another thing.
.

If someone orders say one book on DVD or two then the postage is basically the same for me. It all depends upon the kind of postage service required. Overnight mail charges makes no difference to me for one or two books on DVD.
Likewise hard copies postage cost depends upon the weight and so one book might cost about $10.00 for shipping within Australia where as 3 hardcopies could cost me about $12.00 and 4 hard copies did cost me about $15.00. As such, I view that anyone who sells books and charge postage per book rather then actual cost of postage is adding unduly postal cost to make profit.
.
Considering also the overhead cost of a book store versus the overhead cost by a business selling via the Internet, then very obvious the overhead of Internet business generally should be considerably lower.
.
In real terms it comes down to that if as an Author-Publisher I was to sell books through a bookshop I would basically have to provide books for less then 50% of the sales price to the book store as to make it viable for the bookstore to sell them whereas selling them myself over the Internet I can offer free postage and make more money out of selling books.
.
Then again, writers who have to go through a publisher who control the sale of books have no such option and may be the real losers if as I indicated previously books are shipped from overseas.
.
It might be a strange manner to promote but I would rather like to see that books are provided free of charge for the reader to read them and only if they appreciate the content of the book they pay for it. After all, this would ensure that the books that are appreciated will present a return for the Author while shoddy writing will not. Sure, there might be people who will not pay regardless if the book was appreciated but that is a risk I view is worth taking.

Laura
13 years ago

I bought 36 books in one order in June, and you may be very sure I carefully compared Amazon (US) and The Book Depository prices. BD didn’t have all the books i wanted and I also needed two dvds, so I would have had to put in an Amazon order anyway. Just on the books they both had, BD was considerably cheaper, but the cheapest way of getting everything was Amazon.

Amanda
13 years ago

I dream of the day I get 36 books in one order on the front step. Le sigh!

Laura
13 years ago

Somewhat disappointingly, they split it into three packages.