You think $10 is expensive for an e-book? ;)

You think $10 is expensive for an e-book? 😉

I think many people have gotten used to the idea that some e-books are going to cost more than ten dollars. That’s always been true at Amazon, by the way. Some people have a…mistaken recollection that Amazon said all e-books would be $9.99 or less, when that wasn’t the case.

So, I thought I’d take a look (which I’ve done before) at the

Most Expensive Books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The #1 book at time of writing?

International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences
by N. J. Smelser and P. B. Baltes

That’s right…over thirteen THOUSAND dollars!

Interesting, there are three reviews. Perhaps not a surprise, but not of them are verified purchasers. 🙂

This seems to be a serious book…some very expensive books get that way for other reasons.

One thing that happens with used books (obviously, those aren’t e-books at this point) is that there might be a pricing algorithm, which looks by itself at market prices. You don’t always want to have the lowest price…in fact, you might even set your price to be ten percent than a particular competitor. If two sites are doing the same thing (ten percent higher), they can get into an upward pricing spiral, and the software may get the books up over $10,000.

You’ll also see a lot of books at $200…that’s the maximum price, last I looked for self-published books using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

In this encyclopedia, though, I think they genuinely expect people to pay the $13,496 or it.

The second most expensive one is

Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 14-Volume Set: V1-14
by Keith Brown

I’m glad that wasn’t assigned when our now adult kid was taking linguistics courses in college. 😉

Those are the only two books in the USA Kindle store which are over $10,000.

So, is that $10 book looking pretty good now? 😉

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*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.

8 Responses to “You think $10 is expensive for an e-book? ;)”

  1. Phink Says:

    For the last few years I’ve been thinking a lot about pricing and why our brains work a certain way when dealing with retail. It’s strange to me and my brain is no different from the masses. Well, at least what seems to be the way the masses think.

    Example: I bought my first CD I believe in 1985; maybe 86. I’m not sure what I paid for it but I am almost certain when I was building my CD collection I was surely paying at least $12 but I think it was more like $15 for each one. Remember, this is 1980’s money. Today, I have 3 CD’s in my wish list that I refuse to purchase because they are slightly over priced between $9 and $12. The price for CD’s has gone down in 30 years but in my mind they are too high. I don’t understand that but at the same time just can’t pull the trigger on these CD’s.

    My first book purchase, around 1993 or 1994 was a new release hard cover. I think I paid mid to high 20’s for it. Now, I can’t hardly stand to pay more than $7-$8 for one. I have paid as much as $12.99 but it took a lot of thought and going back and forth to do it. I understand what the publishing world meant by “we don’t want ebooks to cheapen our product.” That is exactly what has happened just like digital music cheapened the music world’s product. That quote may not be exact and I may have it all together wrong but the publishing world did not want people to get used to $10 books, which is what has happened. It’s a strange phenomenon. I mean I don’t mind paying $15 for a good steak but won’t pay $10 for a good CD. I can’t eat the steak over and over but I can listen to the CD over and over. You’d think it’d be worth more wouldn’t you. Again, strange how the brain works. Even though I know it’s strange and doesn’t really make sense it’s still a hard habit to break. Tonight, my wife and I spent almost $30 going to the movies and drinks (popcorn free on Mondays). I did that but have a hard time spending $12 on an eBook. Why? I have no idea.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      It has to do with relative value, and fortunately for me, I don’t have a big problem with that.

      Essentially, you are (and I should say that this would be my hypothesis, but as a former retail manager, I think I understand pricing reasonably well) judging the price of the item not on the value of that item, but how that price compares to something else…and commonly, someone else.

      Likely, you are happy when you get a lower price than most people…it probably makes you feel smart. 🙂 There’s nothing wrong with that, I would guess the majority of people feel good about getting a secret bargain.

      I don’t.

      Oh, I want to save money, sure, but only if everyone else has the chance to save just as much money.

      Money isn’t a competition for me.

      I was a banker years ago, and that might have something to do with that. It certainly desensitizes you to money. 🙂

      I can illustrate this.

      I went to buy a piece of jewelry.

      The person in the store wanted to negotiate with me, but I just want to pay the price on the tag. If it’s not a good price as far as I’m concerned, I’m done. I figure that they put a fair price on the tag. If they did, I don’t want to cheat them. If they didn’t, I don’t want to deal with them.

      I started to walk out…the price was too high.

      The person in the store yelled after me, wanting to throw in a pair of earrings.

      I turned around and said something like, “You are only offering me those earrings because I started to walk away. That’s not fair…if someone else hadn’t started to walk away, they wouldn’t get the same deal you are offering me.”

      I did go to another store and got a good (no negotiation) deal. 🙂

      I have a sibling who thinks that you tend to think that whatever you first paid for a class of technology is the right price. If you paid $2,000 for a home computer, you are amazed at being able to pay $300 for one. If you had paid $300 for your first one, you would consider $600 a rip off.

      If you’ve never read

      Predictably Irrational

      by Dan Ariely, I think you’d really enjoy it…but you might think it is too expensive. 😉

  2. Phink Says:

    I believe that was a very good analysis Bufo. I work for a large retailer (not Walmart) on weekends and sometimes I have to wheel and deal although I don’t have a lot of wiggle room without getting a manager involved. Our average margin is roughly 35%. That’s what a lot of people do not understand. Most think we are making $1,000 profit on a $1,500 fridge and in reality we are probably making $500 on it. Considering we deliver for free, which is not cheap, and the cost of the space the display takes up as well as the 1/2 dozen we have in the back room, and the cost of health care and other benefits to employees beyond their salary, it’s not a lot of money. It’s amazing how many times we lose money on clearance items or scratch and dent items. The customer leaves thinking we still made a fortune but in reality we lost hundreds of dollars sometimes. Oh we make a profit but it’s not nearly as much as most would think.

    I don’t know how it is in the rest of the country but in Arkansas if you put a car that is worth let’s say $10,000 on Craig’s List and you are asking $7,500 (a bargain to begin with) 90 out of 100 people will try to get you to go lower. The bargain is not good enough LOL. You could ask $5,000 for it and probably 3 out of 4 would offer you $4,000. I hate that game. I usually don’t haggle with people but of course I love a bargain if I happen to come across one.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Believe me, I understand about margins. 🙂 We used to lose money on every TV Guide (then priced at sixty cents) we sold. People who don’t do retail would obviously wonder why we would carry it.

      It was because it would inspire other sales.

      We had people who came in every week to buy that TV Guide…and they often bought other things where we could make a profit.

      I’ve said this before here, but customers think of a single transaction, and retailers (and others farther up the chain, like publishers) think in terms of populations of sales. It’s not “Did we make money selling this TV Guide?” It’s “Did we make money from this customer overall?”

      As you mention, there are a lot of factors in the cost of selling that TV Guide, including the salary (and other compensation) of the person selling it, the rent for the floor space under the magazine, the shrinkage (theft/damage) of the TV Guides (and they would get stolen…and damaged by people flipping through them), customer service (if a copy was printed incorrectly, we would be the people dealing with the customer on that, including a possible return)…lots of things.

      I think you’ll love this story.

      We were moving, and just needed to get rid of some things.

      We decided to do a garage sale where everything was a dollar apiece…even though we had some nice items. We were just trying to have fewer things to move.

      We had a table for a dollar…probably worth, oh, maybe $40 usually at a garage sale.

      A couple of nice people who were new to the USA were interested. They went away, and came back…and offered us fifty cents. 🙂

      We were quite sure that what had happened was that they had consulted with someone about what to do at a garage sale, and were told to haggle.

      I sold it for a dollar…but also gave them a translation dictionary I had for their language and English. 🙂

  3. Phink Says:

    That is a funny story. The haggling game (called horse haggling here — even if a horse if not involved) is counter productive and kind of dumb. Back to Craiglist. I have a cousin who buys and sells cars all the time on Craigslist for profit. He can sell up to 5 a year without a dealers license. He, and almost everyone else, will put a price higher than they actually want for the car, so that they can get what they wanted in the first place after horse haggling with the buyer. If he wants $4,000 for a car he’ll ask for $4,6000 or maybe $4,800. They’ll bicker back and forth for 20 minutes over the price finally settling on $4,000. The buyer thinks he talked him down $800 when in reality he didn’t talk him down a single dime. It’s a game that is a complete waste of time and effort and why we play it I have no idea. But, if I were going to sell a car I’d do the same thing because there are those that just will not pay the asking price. They are not going to do it. Not in the used car game anyway.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I think of the term “horse trading”, but I’m sure it’s the same thing.

      When we have bought used cars, we go to a no haggle place…out here, at least, they exist. 🙂

      There was a point, years ago, when I was going into a two bedroom apartment with somebody (to split the rent), and the other person unexpectedly backed out. That led to a series of flatmates.

      One of them “flipped” cars. I have to say, it was a good thing my landlords liked me! This person actually ran a extension cord out the window to charge a car…a few floors down in an underground garage. I heard about that one! 🙂

  4. Tom Semple Says:

    It is also interesting to view the list of Kindle Unlimited titles with sort order Highest to Lowest. Some very strange sorts of spam ebooks, e.g. $200 7 page long books. Obviously trying to exploit the 10% read payout, which Amazon recently replace with ‘pages read’.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      That $200 is the maximum list price for Kindle Direct Publishing. The price of the book doesn’t affect what you get from a borrow…all the books get the same. I think the idea of pricing it for $200 isn’t because you think someone will pay that. It’s because it’s basically the only sort order you can control for effective discovery of the book. When people sort from price high to low, they’ll see the $200 books first. Yes, people can sort low to high, but so many books are free that it doesn’t help you with discovery much. Featured, Avg. Customer Review? Can’t control it. Publication date? Controllable, but you’ll be lost among the many.

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