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Donkin's World: The Mysteries Of Book Pricing

Author Richard Donkin is puzzled by the wide range of prices on the same book offered by retailers.

Richard’s latest book, The Future of Work, has just been published.

I have just had a book published. It is called The Future of Work. http://us.macmillan.com/thefutureofwork I think it is very good but then I would as the author. For a more objective appraisal you would need to read a review or, better still (as far as I am concerned), read it yourself.

However, I don't want to discuss the content of the book in this blog. I want to discuss the price. You will see from the link above that the retail price of the book is £25 - a bit steep you may think for a book of 272 pages with no colour pictures.

I discussed the price with the publisher when we did the deal at the outset. He told me - and he knows much more about book pricing than I could hope to know - that £25 was right for this kind of book in the market. I spent a year on the book so I would have no trouble justifying that for myself, but as a regular reviewer of what the market calls management books I would say that something around £17 would be about right for this type of book.

Funnily enough, if you go to Amazon.co.uk, you can find it at the discounted price of £17.49. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0230576389/sr=8-1/qid=1259773294/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1259773294&sr=8-1&seller= That seems reasonable. That's a good deal.

I wanted to get a few books for myself, however, to give away or to simply have in stock at home. The publisher offered a discount of 40 percent on 40 books which would make them £15 each plus £5 postage, so a bit cheaper than the Amazon deal.

But, wait a minute. Something isn't quite right here. If I go on to Amazon I can also find other retailers selling the book new (and two selling it second hand even though it only came out yesterday! One of these has it priced at £18.42, the other at £44.38!).

One of the retailers selling the book new - Ammobox - was offering it at £5.80 plus £2.75 postage, so that's £8.55 delivered to my door. The deal for another at Middoman was £8.90 and I could get one, inclusive of postage, from Londonderry books for £8.74.

If my book is going so cheaply I want to get it. I know what's in it and that's a bargain! I tried to order 40 books from Ammobox but it said it had just one in stock. The same applied to the other two dealers. So I have ordered a book from each of them.

I went back to my publisher, Palgrave Macmillan, and asked them how it was I could get the book cheaper by some margin, inclusive of postage, from an online dealer than I could buy it with discount from the publisher?

"Bulk orders," they said.

"But I was placing a bulk order and this is much much cheaper."

"We'll look into it," they said.

The bulk order explanation doesn't seem to make much sense since each of these dealers said they had just one book in stock and I was unable to buy more.

There must be an explanation somewhere. If not, I'm going to have to continue buying up all the cheap copies I can find (you can't see the three I mentioned above now as I've bought them, but take my word for it, they were there).

Or perhaps I should just stick to writing them.


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