December 29, 2012

Three bucks well spent (?)

From the murderous cross-subsidizers at and Penguin, two books for $3:
  • What Ho Automaton (link)
  • Chernow's Washington: A Life (link)
The Washington deal is now expired, but Penguin is apparently testing the elasticity of the book market by offering daily deals on Twitter.  I've been a-clicking and a-spending:  some of these are very good value, for those days when you want a break from your free Moby Dick and your free The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Actually, on that last point, Penguin is offering a very nice selection from that masterwork for just $0.95.  Not that anyone on Eisengeiste would settle for a mere selection of Gibbon, but you know, just as an informational thing.

More nearly-free good books here...

While this is lots of fun for Amazon and the similarly megalithic Pearson plc (parent of Penguin), I suspect this will be the death of many of the remaining independent publishers of physical books.  Marginal cost of production for an e-book is zero, and each sale displaces a unit that might have been sold by someone else at normal profit under the old rules.  Put another way, Amazon and Pearson can effectively operate as if they had no fixed costs, while their competitors struggle to cover theirs in an environment with worse volumes and, now, severe pricing pressure.  As they sink below their profitability threshold, Amazon and Pearson are tossing them anvils.

Oh well, more for us.  For now...


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