June 19, 2007

Those Were the Days

I remember those wild west days in the the early age of the Internet when used book pricing was still unpredictable. There were bargains to be had then, with crazily underpriced books of every variety. No more; now the gold rush is over and everyone's panning for little tiny flecks. I can't complain since I got my fair share of bargains.

It seems as though the whole used book market must've experienced price increases since then, since the supply of books has more or less remained fixed while the demand has increased due to ease of purchase and the overcoming of geographic limitations.

A quick google confirms higher prices:


Amazon.com's used book prices, at least if the book in question is still in print, are priced .50 or $1 under the unused equivalent after adjusting for the ridiculous $3.99 shipping charge (comparison assumes use of amazon.com's free shipping for orders of $25 or more). The fifty cents to a dollar price differential is extremely lame. Who wants to buy a used book of questionable condition from an unknown seller when you can get the new one for seventy-five cents more from Amazon?

The fact that used books are selling at that price point must mean that people are buying used books in order to save a few pennies. I, for one, refuse to be suckered. I stand athwart the book world yelling "Stop the Insanity!" Boycott used books and wait until you can place an order for $25 or more.

Market forces are interesting. Perhaps it's impatience - "I must have this book immediately, therefore I can't wait a couple weeks or months until I have $25 in order to qualify for free shipping" - which prompts the decision to buy the book and incur the whopping $3.99 shipping charge when the actual cost is probably $1.25.

Ebay, similarly, has fewer good deals than in the days of yore. My brother-in-law recently purchased a printer at the local store for $350 and sold it a week later for $550 on Ebay. Barnum, call your office. And maestro, strike up the band!

(To All in the Family tune - i.e. "Boy the way Glenn Miller played..."):
Boy, we got the bargains then
though you'd need a bigger den.
Prices never did offend,
Those were the days.

Didn't cost an arm to ship.
Could keep your leg and upper lip.
No need to cause a savings dip.
Those were the days.

I remember good deals then,
Girls were girls and men were men.
Mister we could use a site like alldirect.com again.
Readers seemed to be content.
Buy new books and pay the rent.
No need to go and buy a tent.
Those were the days

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