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Amazon Mystery: Pricing of Books

From The Los Angeles Times article Amazon Mystery: Pricing of Books, Amazon appears to be experimenting with dynamic pricing:

Imagine this: You go to a bookstore, browse, choose a couple of volumes. But you don’t want to carry the books around. So you ask the clerk to hold the tomes until Saturday, when you’ll come back to buy them.

When you return, the bookseller hands you the items but advises you that he’s raised the prices. “I knew you were hot to buy them,” the clerk says, “so I figured I could make a few extra bucks.”

That’s what it feels like online bookseller Inc. has been doing to me.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

8 Comments on Amazon Mystery: Pricing of Books

  1. Oddly, I’ve only noticed it with Philip K. Dick’s novels, which seem to fluctuate between $9.50 and $11. If I keep any of them in my cart for a time they’ll go up and down.

  2. The real question is what did Ammo offer Amazon for a discount. The book on the Ammo site’s $300, so Amazon’s charging srp for it. Most small speciality publishers don’t steep discounts.

    BTW I got Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 from Amazon for $14,99, srp is $100.

  3. I noticed this for a long time. First it was with DVD’s. Books never budged. Now I see it with books. If it is to try and make me feel a sense of urgency and order faster, it hasn’t worked yet. I just wait until the prices go back down or dump the item out of the shopping cart when I’m about to do the order.


  4. The “random DVD price thing” was back in 2000.

    There used to be another issue where 1st-time customers would get cheaper prices than returning customers. This is akin to a physical store dishing out “new customer” coupons, but I remember being irritated by it. Since new customer status was determined by the presence of Amazon cookies, deleting those Amazon cookies usually got one a cheaper price. See the BBC article Amazon’s old customers ‘pay more’, also from 2000.

  5. Just happened to me from yesterday to today. Yesterday I put a DVD in. The price went down today. Last week I had put a book in. The price of the book went up today.

    Somehow I doubt if the law of supply and demand is in play here. I can’t see there being a big run on the title that had the price increase!

  6. Jim Shannon // January 2, 2007 at 2:50 pm //

    Yikes and I was thinking

    about getting a pre paid

    credit card to order books

    from Amazon. I think I’d

    rather shop by ebay.

  7. eBay has its pitfalls as well. I think the lesson, if any can be learned, is: caveat emptor.

  8. Is this purely anecdotal or has there been anything more than individuals making observations?

    Somewhat off topic, though, I would still rather shop at my local, non-chain bookstore. I may end up paying more, but at least more of that money generally stays in a human community rather than corporate community.

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