Books priced at $20.14

Books priced at $20.14

The e-book business leads to some weird pricing.

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, books tended to have prices which ended in ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-five, zero, or maybe fifty.

As a general rule in retail, a price ending in ninety-nine is perceived as a bargain, a price ending in two zeroes (an even dollar amount) is perceived as a quality, prestige item.

I would never have priced a $500 chess set at $499.99…it wouldn’t have sold. Anybody willing to pay that much for a chess set (oh, I managed a game store, too…this wasn’t in the book store) doesn’t want a bargain.

With e-books, though, and actually with other products, too, we see all sorts of price points.

Why? Has the psychology changed?

Well, in a sense. It isn’t human psychology, it’s likely to be robot psychology…algorithms.

An algorithm is sort of a flow chart that takes you through a set of choices…you don’t improvise at decision points, you follow a rule.

You might want to set an algorithm that makes a give e-book at your store one penny less than the lowest competitor’s price.

You can see how that could make for weird prices.

You price it for $10.

Your competitor prices it at $9.99.

Your computer notices that, and drops it to $9.98.

Your competitor’s computer notices, and drops it to $9.97…and so on.

You could have a floor on how low it would go, but before it got there, we could get these odd prices.

I’m always looking for new ways to discover books…something which is out of the box may do that for me.

This time, since it is the year 2014, I thought I’d see if any e-books in the Kindle store were priced at $20.14.

There were!

$20.14 books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

There were 25 results.

The first thing I noticed is that some of the books are available to rent. I wonder if that’s part of the algorithm…if the rental price is a certain percentage of the purchase price, but it is the former that drives the latter. In other words, they say, “We want the rental price of this to be $9.75, and that has to be 25% of the purchase price, so the purchase price goes to $39.00.”

I don’t know that, I’m just speculating. 🙂

Here are ten of the titles:

  • Religious Violence in Contemporary Japan: The Case of Aum Shinrikyo (NIAS Monographs) by Ian Reader
  • Drug War Heresies: Learning from Other Vices, Times, and Places (RAND Studies in Policy Analysis) by Robert J. MacCoun
  • CNC Machining Handbook: Building, Programming, and Implementation by Alan Overby
  • Creating East and West: Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks by Nancy Bisaha
  • Treating Bulimia in Adolescents: A Family-Based Approach by Daniel Le Grange and James Lock
  • Teaching Literacy in Third Grade (Tools for Teaching Literacy) by Janice F. Almasi
  • Lezioni di sociologia storica (Collezione di testi e di studi) (Italian Edition) by Massimo Paci
  • Exchange-Traded Funds For Dummies by Colin Davidson and Russell Wild
  • Winnicott na Escola de São Paulo (Portuguese Edition) by Elsa Oliveira Dias and Loparic Zeljko
  • Mary Wollstonecraft: Mother of Women’s Rights (Oxford Portraits) by Miriam Brody

I think I can be pretty confident there that there are some books you didn’t know were available. 🙂 It also tends to refute the idea that e-books are just popular, genre titles. That does tend to be the majority, I think, but lots of things are covered.

The genre thing was true of mass market paperbacks in the beginning, too.

What happens is that it is hard to lure the brand name authors into a new format. Their agents don’t know what the market possibilities are, so they don’t know what kind of deal to negotiate.

They may just stay out of it for a while, until they can see what is going to happen. That happened with e-books…we are “missing” a lot fewer titles than we used to be.

Without brand names, how are you going to sell the books?


It’s a way for the reader to be able to predict something about the content, even if that something is quality. 😉 There are some people who will are willing to read any vampire book, or romance, or mystery. They may have preferences, but they like the topic more than the author.

I’m often surprised when people I consider to be serious readers can’t tell me who wrote the book they are currently reading.

I’m big on knowing who the authors are, and crediting them…you may have noticed I tend to do that with news story links, as well.

At any rate, the smaller market nature of these titles is an indicator that the e-book market has matured past that early genre heavy stage.

The Mary Wollstonecraft one intrigues me…

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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