Forum home Road cycling forum The cake stop

Expensive Books

rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,832
edited August 2019 in The cake stop
I stumbled across this and thought it was fascinating and slightly concerning. You may have occasionally noticed surprisingly expensive books for sale on Amazon. It seems to particularly affect more obscure titles.

Here is an example of an academic textbook briefly being on sale for $23M and an explanation of why.

http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=358

The book is out of print but two sellers offered new copies for sale. Both were using algorithms to set their pricing. One was set to be just beneath the best other price. A penny cheaper. The other seller offering the book probably did not have it in stock so offered it at a higher price than the best other price it could find to cover the cost of buying and reselling it. The result was that as there were just two sellers, their two algorithms started 'competing', slowly ratcheting the price up and up until a human being intervened.
1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
1980s BSA 10sp

Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.

Posts

  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 3,132
    I had a client who sold books on amazon under 2 company names. One sold generic books for 1p-£1. Nothing special. They also sold rare books for in the thousands.

    Anyway. They had a heartwarming story on their website where a customer wanted a specific book for her niece, which she recalled from her own childhood. The company sourced the book for a fee. Maybe 50 quid all in (it was from Australia). When the customer received the copy they were a bit peeved that it was marked up quite heavily, especially for the price, however happily sucked it up given it was out of print for some decades. Upon closer examination it just so happened to be the exact copy she had annotated as a child, and by some miracle was in her hands again, several years later.
  • robert88robert88 Posts: 2,706
    rjsterry wrote:
    I stumbled across this and thought it was fascinating and slightly concerning. You may have occasionally noticed surprisingly expensive books for sale on Amazon. It seems to particularly affect more obscure titles.

    Here is an example of an academic textbook briefly being on sale for $23M and an explanation of why.

    http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=358

    The book is out of print but two sellers offered new copies for sale. Both were using algorithms to set their pricing. One was set to be just beneath the best other price. A penny cheaper. The other seller offering the book probably did not have it in stock so offered it at a higher price than the best other price it could find to cover the cost of buying and reselling it. The result was that as there were just two sellers, their two algorithms started 'competing', slowly ratcheting the price up and up until a human being intervened.

    Do books have print runs any more or are they produced ad hoc?
  • Liverpool Library have a book worth upwards of £10 million. It's on public display in a light controlled room, inside a reinforced glass box and with sophisticated alarm system.
    Audubon's Birds of America. They turn a page over every day. Size is something like double elephant - far bigger than A4!!!! One of only 10 in the world and it is superb.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,832
    robert88 wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    I stumbled across this and thought it was fascinating and slightly concerning. You may have occasionally noticed surprisingly expensive books for sale on Amazon. It seems to particularly affect more obscure titles.

    Here is an example of an academic textbook briefly being on sale for $23M and an explanation of why.

    http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=358

    The book is out of print but two sellers offered new copies for sale. Both were using algorithms to set their pricing. One was set to be just beneath the best other price. A penny cheaper. The other seller offering the book probably did not have it in stock so offered it at a higher price than the best other price it could find to cover the cost of buying and reselling it. The result was that as there were just two sellers, their two algorithms started 'competing', slowly ratcheting the price up and up until a human being intervened.

    Do books have print runs any more or are they produced ad hoc?

    Even with digital printing, you are still largely paying for setup costs of a print run so printing books to order would be relatively more expensive than even a short run of a few hundred copies.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    rjsterry wrote:
    robert88 wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    I stumbled across this and thought it was fascinating and slightly concerning. You may have occasionally noticed surprisingly expensive books for sale on Amazon. It seems to particularly affect more obscure titles.

    Here is an example of an academic textbook briefly being on sale for $23M and an explanation of why.

    http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=358

    The book is out of print but two sellers offered new copies for sale. Both were using algorithms to set their pricing. One was set to be just beneath the best other price. A penny cheaper. The other seller offering the book probably did not have it in stock so offered it at a higher price than the best other price it could find to cover the cost of buying and reselling it. The result was that as there were just two sellers, their two algorithms started 'competing', slowly ratcheting the price up and up until a human being intervened.

    Do books have print runs any more or are they produced ad hoc?

    Even with digital printing, you are still largely paying for setup costs of a print run so printing books to order would be relatively more expensive than even a short run of a few hundred copies.

    When I google reasonably obscure out of print books I often find numerous Far Eastern suppliers offering printed scanned volumes of the originals. They seem to be (assuming quality adequate) good value but not cheap enough that someone would have invested in a print run of a few thousand. For example, for a while I was thinking about getting a mid Victorian hand coloured book on butterflies. These generally cost £600-£800 and after a while I decided I wouldn't get that much value out of it. Quite a few places, as per above, offer facsimile copies at around £40 a time. But anyone who wants the original probably doesn't want the copy. I wasn't prepared to spend £600 on an original nor am I prepared to spend £40 on the facsimile. Most people interested in the book probably think the same so I doubt there is the market for many of the copies.

    As for the original comment - I recently bought an academic text book; prices on line were as high as £1500. I got mine for £8......
    Faster than a tent.......
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,832
    £40 doesn't sound unreasonable for a larger hardback with illustrations. A couple of thousand is a small print run for a book. You may recall the jokes about how few copies Rees-Mogg's book had sold and I think that was about 700 copies.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    rjsterry wrote:
    £40 doesn't sound unreasonable for a larger hardback with illustrations. A couple of thousand is a small print run for a book. You may recall the jokes about how few copies Rees-Mogg's book had sold and I think that was about 700 copies.

    No - if the quality is good enough then it isn't a bad deal but it is one of those things that if you want one, you'll want the real thing. I get the impression that they are actually print on demand (lead times less prompt than they might be) but really I don't know.

    Mogg sold 700 copies? Good for him (considering how idiotic the book is). I wonder how many were full price.....
    Faster than a tent.......
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,832
    When you add up family members, book reviewers and political journalists it's not very impressive.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 9,210
    Expensive finance book. Some US reviews suggest people are paying a fortune for fakes.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Margin-Safety- ... 1893122816
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    rjsterry wrote:
    When you add up family members, book reviewers and political journalists it's not very impressive.

    You forgot the couple of hundred he probably bought himself.......

    Still, it's a weird world and his career might still be on the up. A copy of this rare book could one day be worth it's weight in slime mould!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    TheBigBean wrote:
    Expensive finance book. Some US reviews suggest people are paying a fortune for fakes.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Margin-Safety- ... 1893122816

    The reviews are ridiculously gushing over the content. The implication is that this is the only place to gain that knowledge never mind that everything else in the world that is any good is copied to death everywhere.

    Anyone paying that sort of money for a book on how to invest ought not to be allowed out alone with their pocket money.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 9,210
    Rolf F wrote:
    TheBigBean wrote:
    Expensive finance book. Some US reviews suggest people are paying a fortune for fakes.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Margin-Safety- ... 1893122816

    The reviews are ridiculously gushing over the content. The implication is that this is the only place to gain that knowledge never mind that everything else in the world that is any good is copied to death everywhere.

    Anyone paying that sort of money for a book on how to invest ought not to be allowed out alone with their pocket money.

    The availability of everything on the internet has sort of ruined the mystique of the book as it is now easy enough to get a pirated pdf copy. Of course, ideas can be copied, but many prefer to read the original idea hence its demand continues.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 7,172
    I had a client who sold books on amazon under 2 company names. One sold generic books for 1p-£1. Nothing special. They also sold rare books for in the thousands.

    Anyway. They had a heartwarming story on their website where a customer wanted a specific book for her niece, which she recalled from her own childhood. The company sourced the book for a fee. Maybe 50 quid all in (it was from Australia). When the customer received the copy they were a bit peeved that it was marked up quite heavily, especially for the price, however happily sucked it up given it was out of print for some decades. Upon closer examination it just so happened to be the exact copy she had annotated as a child, and by some miracle was in her hands again, several years later.

    Brilliant.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • robert88robert88 Posts: 2,706
    TheBigBean wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    TheBigBean wrote:
    Expensive finance book. Some US reviews suggest people are paying a fortune for fakes.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Margin-Safety- ... 1893122816

    The reviews are ridiculously gushing over the content. The implication is that this is the only place to gain that knowledge never mind that everything else in the world that is any good is copied to death everywhere.

    Anyone paying that sort of money for a book on how to invest ought not to be allowed out alone with their pocket money.

    The availability of everything on the internet has sort of ruined the mystique of the book as it is now easy enough to get a pirated pdf copy. Of course, ideas can be copied, but many prefer to read the original idea hence its demand continues.

    Yes thanks to this thread I have downloaded it and may even read it or bits of it.

    Maybe real, in-the-hand books will become increasingly valuable. Maybe even JRM's because of its bizarre nature and scarcity (still not tempted though).
  • mr_goomr_goo Posts: 3,726
    Liverpool Library have a book worth upwards of £10 million. It's on public display in a light controlled room, inside a reinforced glass box and with sophisticated alarm system.
    Audubon's Birds of America. They turn a page over every day. Size is something like double elephant - far bigger than A4!!!! One of only 10 in the world and it is superb.

    My daughter is a natural history illustrator and has been invited to submit work for an Aubudon Charity Exhibition in 2020.
    Always be yourself, unless you can be Aaron Rodgers....Then always be Aaron Rodgers.
  • Mr Goo wrote:

    My daughter is a natural history illustrator and has been invited to submit work for an Aubudon Charity Exhibition in 2020.
    Wow, she must be good!!!
  • mr_goomr_goo Posts: 3,726
    Mr Goo wrote:

    My daughter is a natural history illustrator and has been invited to submit work for an Aubudon Charity Exhibition in 2020.
    Wow, she must be good!!!

    Very good. And very poor, as most artists tend to be.
    But she has that one thing in life that we all strive for. Enjoyment of her job.
    Always be yourself, unless you can be Aaron Rodgers....Then always be Aaron Rodgers.
Sign In or Register to comment.