Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I shouldn't need a mortgage to buy a book

I love words. I love etymology. I love learning about languages. I love English. This book seems to be written for me.

The description on Amazon says: "This outstanding book is for everyone interested in English etymology and in loanwords more generally. It will appeal to a wide general public." [emphasis added]

The description doesn't indicate that the book contains hundreds of beautiful color pictures printed on expensive glossy paper. It apparently has lots of words about words.

I'd love to own this book -- but various versions of the book are priced from $33.78 to $64.99. I don't have $64.99 worth of love. The book is priced for libraries, not the "general public." The $42.24 DISCOUNTED! Kindle edition is absurdly overpriced.

The publisher is arrogant, ignorant and short-sighted. Maybe in a few months I'll find the book in a dollar store.

I've previously complained about what I call ego-driven book pricing, but the other books I mentioned were not books I cared about. This complaint is about a book I do care about. This complaint is PERSONAL. I feel deprived, and I am pissed off.
  • When pricing a book, remember that if the book is priced too high, especially if it's much higher than competitive books, or if it seems to offer poor value, few people will buy it.
  • If your book contains some vital new discovery needed for business or government, you can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  • If your book provides entertainment for the general public (and especially if you are an unknown author with well-known competitors), keep the price below $25 for the hardcover pbook, under $15 for the paperback and under $10 for the ebook.


  1. Sounds more like you're falling for Amazon hype than anything else. OUP is not the cheapest of publishers, and the book appears to be more a text for specialists than the general reader. This is the sort of book with a huge overhead (glossy paper, 4-color photos, etc) and how much time the author devoted to the book (not taking in the "overhead" of a lifetime of scholarship). Alas books are expensive (especially those published in EU countries), but writers, editors, publishers, proof-readers, book designers, rights checkers, etc. have to eat, and the price of everything is going up. Anyway, here in Mexico, Amazon lists the book at 35 US, not 65.

    1. I'm very much in favor of people in publishing making decent money. "Writers, editors, publishers, proof-readers, book designers, rights checkers, etc." manage to get paid from books that sell for $15 - $25.

      The super-expensive ebook does not have glossy paper and 4-color printing.

      The description does not mention color pix in the pbook.

      You say the book is for specialists but the publisher says, "It will appeal to a wide general public."