An Insight Into the Economics of Book Buying

After I signed up for an adult education class in ‘Terrorism in Contemporary Literature’ for next term, I went online to acquire the books on the reading list.  I’m such a slow reader these days that I wanted to get a head start on the reading that needs to be done.

As the novelty of having a kindle hasn’t worn off yet, I had assumed that I would download the books and be done with it, so I went onto the amazon website.  I stumbled at the first hurdle, however, as the first book I searched was not available on kindle, in fact it’s only there as a hardback.  Second hand seemed to be the option to look at, and there it was at a significant discount to a new copy.

I clearly wasn’t the first person to use amazon before the course.  At the bottom of the website page in the ‘people who bought that also bought these’ area it displayed the complete reading list.

It was a surprise then to discover that a second hand copy of each book on the list was a fair way cheaper than even the kindle version, using the clear technique of offering two main alternatives: 1p plus £2.50 postage, or £2.49 and free postage.  You’ll know which I opted for.

While I did consider the fact that I was not doing the authors any favours, buying a physical book did have a satisfying retro feel to it, and the pricing structure was a revelation to me.

When the books arrived, there was yet more to learn.  One of them, the not-available-on-kindle, is a former library book, in pristine, unused condition.  It has the library sticker inside without a single stamp on it, and has all the signs of never having been read.  It didn’t fill me with confidence about the attractions of the novel.

 And two of the other novels have clearly been through charity shops.  Is this a way for the charities to shift their stock, or are people buying up books cheap and then selling them online?  For the moment I’m going to believe the former.

When I signed up for the course I hadn’t quite anticipated that all of the literature would be focussed on post 9/11 Islamic extremists, but now I’ve received the books, I can see it is.  I’ll have to think about that in the context in the broader history of terrorism in the 20th century.  Has contemporary literature failed to address terrorism in other contexts?  I’ll let you know, if I find out.

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