Tuesday, January 9, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Kindle Moment: Fire and Fury

Kirk McElhearn:

You’ll note that the Kindle version currently costs more than the (unavailable) hardcover. This is a sort of surge pricing for books; why discount the hottest book of the season? It’s not a loss leader like the latest novels by Dan Brown or Stephen King, it’s a must-read that people want now, because it won’t be as interesting in a week, after many of the salacious elements are reported in the press.

It’s not often that a book like this drives demand so much that the publisher can’t keep up. Amazon is stepping in to help meet that demand, shifting a lot of readers from print to ebook. Even if they don’t have Kindles, they can read it on their phones or tablets.

I bet there are a lot of shared highlights.

5 Comments

It's sheer profiteering, not "surge pricing"; there are no scarce resources here. Though it's useful in that it reveals Amazon's "character," if you had any question about it.

@joely: What's the problem? Amazon is a business whose purpose is to make money. They will sell things for as much as the market will bear. For a non-physical product such as this, there are no costs related to un-sold inventory. Therefore, they can charge what people will be willing to pay.

"What's the problem? Amazon is a business whose purpose is to make money. They will sell things for as much as the market will bear."

The ethics of Amazon's decision aside, it still has nothing to do with "surge pricing" as we use the term. Kirk's framing here is dead wrong.

It’s not a loss leader like the latest novels by Dan Brown or Stephen King

Wait, huh? Seems hardback new fiction novels are always exceptionally more expensive than the trade paperback that comes after, and it’s not like a hardback is THAT much more expensive to make.

Where’s the loss lead from these guys’ latest?

@joely @Chucky It’s not really surge pricing because there’s no limited supply, nor a mechanism for the higher prices to induce more supply. I think Kirk knows that, which is why he wrote “sort of.” I wouldn’t say the framing is dead wrong because it’s similar in that both the price and demand are high.

@Ruffin Amazon really does sell hardcover bestsellers below cost. See, for example, here.

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