Amazon pricing?

A blog post for fellow booksellers…

Here’s a screenshot of a good book being offered for sale on Amazon. The book sells on other websites for $120-$150 (or you can buy it new for $250 from the publisher), and so this is a good example of why customers should think twice before buying any out-of-print book on Amazon (or before you buy anything on any website, for that matter, without checking around.) However, what’s most puzzling is that Amazon is willing to pay a whopping $6 for a book that is currently listed on their own site for $3,000.

Let me rephrase that: I’ll buy as many copies as I can at just $6, but why would they offer ONLY that much and not more? They’ve got the sales records, and they know that it will sell, especially if offered at a reasonable price. Anyway, we pay 1/3 to 1/2 of the price of the book, so does that mean they’d list it for $12-$18? Wouldn’t they target a $125 price (i.e., half cover, and in the range of used copies for sale)? If so, they’re offering about 5% of the price of the book, which makes me wonder why bother offering? Seems like it makes them look bad, and I for one would rather forgo a scandalous offer than get a bad rep.

Ahh….formulas and algorithms. That’s what drives the internet, I know. But sometimes a little common sense, judgment of value, and plain old ethics really ought to come into play.

Amazon's 95% profit margin.