I think Amazon is fantastic. It is on the cutting edge of Internet commerce and it constantly pushes at the barriers… I’m a big fan of the Kindle – the first proper e-book; I admire Amazon’s affiliate program which is inventive and generous; but most of all, I love the way it has allowed booksellers across the world to tap into its enormous online presence, enabling independents to name their price and make books easily available that previously would have required a visit to the world’s main book repositories (in the UK that’s the Bodleian Library and the British Library at Paddington).
But I have to say I am foxed when it comes to what Amazon has to say with respect to my own book – Sex.com. While pondering getting a US publishing deal today, I had a look at Amazon.co.uk to see how my book was doing, whether it had any good reviews and so on.
Sex.com is out of print at the moment. So I was pleased to see it has been picked up by second-hand booksellers. The price wasn’t very encouraging though. No author likes to see their book offered for less than the paper it costs to print it on, so seeing Sex.com offered for £0.08 – or 8p – was not exactly exhilarating. But then what’s this – it is also on sale for £71.76. £71.76? What’s going on?
Yes, apparently someone thinks my book is worth £71.76. In fact several people. I can only assume this is one of the books I have signed. So does that mean my signature is worth £71.68? I’d love to think so. But I suspect not.
Amazon is offering the cheapest “new” versions of my book for £9.99. Then there’s a new one for £10.99 and from there the price leaps to £29.99. Well I have 10 copies in my flat that I would happily sell for $40 to anyone that asks. But then on the flipside, there a range of eight sellers ready to put my book in your hands for under £1.00.
Clearly some very strange economics going on. I’d love to find to a way of deluding myself into believing that this is a clear sign of restricted supply to growing demand for a work of brilliance causing price fluctuations but I suspect it’s just the Internet being funny again.
So get your copy now in case it becomes so expensive you can’t afford it, or so cheap you don’t want it. One of the two.