Book prices

This is a discussion on Book prices within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Since when did most good books at Amazon start costing 40 to 60 bucks? Just ordered several books and I ...

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Book prices

    Since when did most good books at Amazon start costing 40 to 60 bucks? Just ordered several books and I do not remember books being as high as they are now.

    Anyone else notice the cost of books gradually increasing? Is it due to the internet replacing the information found in them or is it just the economy? I would have figured the economy would reduce the cost much like it did for computer parts.

    Books I ordered were ShaderX7 (hardback would explain the cost) and Luna's Intro to DX10 so I can update my framework code.

    However I wanted to get GPU gems 3, and a very cool book called Real-time Cameras but both were over 40 US.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 09-19-2009 at 12:01 PM.

  2. #2
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Don't get me started
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Textbooks were often that price and more when I went to school a dozen years ago. I'm sure I can remember having to pay over $100 for some hardcovers.

    Also, I don't know what official policies publishers have about this, but more esoteric things (eg, anything with "GPU" in the title) tend to cost more because (my theory) 1: they have less competition 2: they will never sell very many units.

    I'm always impressed/happy when a technical softcover cost <$30 new. There are a lot of physically smaller books in that category so if that is what you are used to then ... but I don't think there have been any recent dramatic changes. My "Perl Cookbook" from 1998 sez $40; just like the few dozen other programming texts I have lying around, mine or from the library ("eg Fundamentals of AJAX", 2006, softcover, < 300 pages still $39.99 US, "OpenGL Superbible", 2005 $59.99 US).
    Last edited by MK27; 09-19-2009 at 12:15 PM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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    Jack of many languages Dino's Avatar
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    I buy used on Amazon every single chance I get. I've only had one reject - smelled like an ashtray. I was refunded and they didn't want the book back.
    Mac and Windows cross platform programmer. Ruby lover.

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    12/20: Mario F.:I never was, am not, and never will be, one to shut up in the face of something I think is fundamentally wrong.

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  5. #5
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Starting more or less August last year, I've noticed a small increase in price on many technical books coming to my bookstore. Publishers and distributors make this a very tough business for small retailers as myself. Our margins become very small as we tend to reduce them to keep prices more or less within an acceptable (and expectable) range to consumers. Every time I raised the price of a book by 5 euros I knew I was going to sell one book less. By keeping the price, selling two books would give me a larger profit than selling 1 book.

    This is very tied to the general market conditions. And over here, because they are all imported, books are considerably more expensive which further reduces our options. Only large surfaces can keep up with the amazingly small profit margins on a country like mine. We have been selling books for no profit at all(!) just to keep the business afloat. But even when that's not necessary, a profit margin of 1% or 2% per book is the norm. So, the inevitable result is that fewer and fewer bookstores are sticking around. Mine? I filled bankruptcy this January. I only sold technical books.

    So, that's one of the problems. But not entirely related to yours, Bubba.
    Next...

    A lot less visible in the news is the effect piracy is having on the book industry. This is nowhere near compared to the entertainment industry. Books sell a lot less than movies. Books sell a lot less than music. Piracy has a long lasting effect on much smaller mass industries, like the book industry.

    Fire up that disgusting piratebay and search for popular and unpopular titles alike. That, my friend, is mass distribution at cost zero to everyone involved of high quality, virus free, small size, digital versions of books. Being that most of these are technical books, their potential readers are technical people with enough knowledge to know how and where to get a free copy of a 50 USD book. Here, there is no hiding behind a representative number of potential consumers being unaware of the alternatives, or these alternatives carrying with them considerable risks (as is the case with other industries).

    No. A downloaded book is a good investment. You get access to good knowledge at cost 0, as opposed to get access to good knowledge at cost anywhere within the 4 digit figure, which is what you should expect when you add all your books investment for the past years.

    What's worse, legit digital distribution of books only served to increase consumer awareness to the ilegal alternatives and to feed these with even better quality material than the often mediocre PDF scans of some years ago. Legit digital distribution served only to set new standards for illegal book distribution.

    So, sales get incredibly low to the point that only few small-time retailers can bare to put technical books on display. Online retailers like Amazon don't get it any easier, neither do large surfaces. I lost count to the times I would overhear someone in my bookstore (or being told flat) they wouldn't buy the book they had on their hands because they could get it for free on the web.

    And while giant industries like the entertainment industry still generate enough profit to keep prices more or less the same, the book industry falls immediately to its knees and needs to increase prices... which will only sink it further. And because governments everywhere are more interested in serving the movie, the music and the gaming lobbies, the book industry cries fall on deaf ears. And it has for many years.

    Expect prices to keep rising.

    If, my memory serves me right, you have noticed an increase in prices on average around 5-10% since the beginning of the year, right?
    Last edited by Mario F.; 09-19-2009 at 12:54 PM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  6. #6
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    Fire up that disgusting piratebay and search for popular and unpopular titles alike.
    The first big "moral" factor with piracy (by this I mean, justification) is the popular titles. If you are a Steven King fan, you may recognize the man already has more money than anyone could ever need and certainly more than anyone could ever deserve. So why not pirate? I would extend this to include the authors of many textbooks, who are tenured professors, already make a fine living, and just want to make even more money by spending their office hours writing textbooks.

    The other is that if you are a millionaire, you are suppose to pay $50 for a book. If you are dirt poor, you are suppose to pay the same. Distributors, retailers, etc. will gear their prices to a norm -- to make them affordable to the normal person. So if you have less than that (which is still a lot of people), they have may the decision to "price you out". In that case, who is going to feel guilty about stealing in the face of pure self-interest? When I was homeless, I would steal books and anything else I wanted, on occasion, if I could get away with it (I did). I didn't feel any guilt then and I still don't, altho now I do have a place to live and an income (still very humble and meager) I don't steal, I pay for something if I want it badly enough like a good citizen of capitalism.

    Here's an article tho, that may demonstrate Bubba is right:

    Book prices rise faster than inflation..|..The Miami Hurricane

    So, sales get incredibly low to the point that only few small-time retailers can bare to put technical books on display.
    The number of computer book stores in NYC, pop. 8 million +, I can count with my thumbs. And neither of them is very impressive and at last viewing appeared ready to fold. Online retailing destroyed that industry just like digital photography sunk the photomat.
    Last edited by MK27; 09-19-2009 at 01:19 PM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    The first big "moral" factor with piracy (by this I mean, justification) is the popular titles. If you are a Steven King fan, you may recognize the man already has more money than anyone could ever need and certainly more than anyone could ever deserve. So why not pirate? I would extend this to include the authors of many textbooks, who are tenured professors, already make a fine living, and just want to make even more money by spending their office hours writing textbooks.

    The other is that if you are a millionaire, you are suppose to pay $50 for a book. If you are dirt poor, you are suppose to pay the same. Distributors, retailers, etc. will gear their prices to a norm -- to make them affordable to the normal person. So if you have less than that (which is still a lot of people), they have may the decision to "price you out". In that case, who is going to feel guilty about stealing in the face of pure self-interest? When I was homeless, I would steal books and anything else I wanted, on occasion, if I could get away with it (I did). I didn't feel any guilt then and I still don't, altho now I do have a place to live and an income (still very humble and meager) I don't steal, I pay for something if I want it badly enough like a good citizen of capitalism.
    Please don't tell me that actually makes sense to you...
    Sent from my iPad®

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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom View Post
    Please don't tell me that actually makes sense to you...
    Yeah, perfectly. I did not say other people are happy with it, just like I often am not happy with other people. I am also not trying to change anyone else's mind thru my adroit style of argument

    I am just trying to attempt to explain why there is piracy. That may be of interest to those who need to deal with it somehow. Or, you can stick your head in the sand. Or, you could establish an international police force dedicated to hunting these evil jerks down and exterminating them to the letter. If you cannot admit that Steven King (eg) is just a little bit of a greedy pig, well, small mindedness may continue to work for you, I dunno.

    Whatever...
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  9. #9
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    You're trying to convince yourself that people try to justify committing piracy by convincing themselves that it's not wrong... they don't. It's just that humans, by nature, know that it's wrong and don't care because it isn't important to them.

    Comedian Louis CK makes this point in one of his routines... he speaks about why people feel it's alright to eat tuna but not dolphins or dogs or cats... then he goes on to state that even though he knows it's wrong to kill and eat animals and chooses not to justify it, he still eats them all, anyway, because eating them makes him happy and he doesn't care about the animals. That's the one and only justification for piracy... we're just a big A-hole of a species and only care about ourselves...
    Sent from my iPad®

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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom View Post
    You're trying to convince yourself that people try to justify committing piracy by convincing themselves that it's not wrong... they don't. It's just that humans, by nature, know that it's wrong and don't care because it isn't important to them.
    No I'm telling you I used to steal and I did not think it was wrong, I still do not think I was wrong, and I have known many other people who feel exactly the same way.

    You are just trying to convince yourself that you have the moral high ground, and that these people are nihilistic and irresponsible. Sorry to rain on your parade, Sly.

    Louis CK, I believe, is an intentional parody of a jockular "guy next door" moderate conservative. He doesn't come out and say this because that would be breaking character and probably be too explicitly political for his fan base, but that is my impression having listened to him, regularly, for a while on a NY radio show where he was a regular guest:

    "It's just that humans, by nature, know that it's wrong and don't care because it isn't important to them."

    I can totally hear him saying that, and to me the spin is not to reinforce the listener's sentiment, but to make it plain and perhaps have it ring slightly hollow, on purpose, because his fans do not want to be preached to, they want to be entertained, but they should know better, and HE DOES.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  11. #11
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    No I'm telling you I used to steal and I did not think it was wrong, I still do not think I was wrong, and I have known many other people who feel exactly the same way.

    You are just trying to convince yourself that you have the moral high ground, and that these people are nihilistic and irresponsible. Sorry to rain on your parade, Sly.
    And you are trying to convince yourself there is nothing wrong in stealing when your actions affect the lives of those who try to make a leaving. Like, I dunno... maybe start a small bookstore business and carry it on to the rest of their lives?

    Sorry to rain on your parade. But a criminal is a criminal no matter how good he feels about it.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  12. #12
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    Sorry to rain on your parade. But a criminal is a criminal no matter how good he feels about it.
    Yes, and a pig is a pig now matter how good he feels about it. I don't have romantic notions of what it is to be a "small noble bookseller" any more than I have romantic notions of what it is to be a "small noble grocer". Sell whatever you want. You didn't write it. Being an entrepreneur, who's goal is self-aggrandizement, means trying to "make a living" by profiting off the labour of others. Like it or not.

    But not all criminals are equally criminal, and not all capitalists are equally gluttonous. If it's any consolation, when I stole a book, I stole it from a big, busy chain store. When I stole food, I stole it from a big, busy supermarket. I did not go up to a hotdog vendor, ask him for a hotdog, and then run off with it, altho that may be an easy thing to do. Etc. Because then I would feel bad.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    Louis CK, I believe, is an intentional parody of a jockular "guy next door" moderate conservative. He doesn't come out and say this because that would be breaking character and probably be too explicitly political for his fan base, but that is my impression having listened to him, regularly, for a while on a NY radio show where he was a regular guest:

    "It's just that humans, by nature, know that it's wrong and don't care because it isn't important to them."

    I can totally hear him saying that, and to me the spin is not to reinforce the listener's sentiment, but to make it plain and perhaps have it ring slightly hollow, on purpose, because his fans do not want to be preached to, they want to be entertained, but they should know better, and HE DOES.
    You think he doesn't "break character" on Opie and Anthony? I've met the guy multiple times... I know him just as well as any fan of his, so I don't know why you're trying to act like you have a deeper understanding of him.

    I stated that humans, by nature, cater to their own wishes before they cater to those that they don't know. I don't know where in that statement you felt I was saying that I'm not human and I don't fall into this category... but I'm pretty sure I was being just as self-implicating as I was implicating you (or any human).

    All you did in your response was saying that you do exactly what I said... you break the rules because you don't care that they're in place... yet, this is opposite of your previous response in which you were justifying piracy through the greed of the pirated and the misfortunes of the pirate. You aren't really making an argument, you're just being a blatant contrarian.
    Sent from my iPad®

  14. #14
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    If it's any consolation, when I stole a book, I stole it from a big, busy chain store. When I stole food, I stole it from a big, busy supermarket. I did not go up to a hotdog vendor, ask him for a hotdog, and then run off with it, altho that may be an easy thing to do. Etc. Because then I would feel bad.
    My goodness, it's like economics is up here... and you're down here...

    What do you think happens when people steal from "the big, bag capitalist book store"? You think the executives say "Oh... no problem, just take it right out of my over-inflated bonus." No... they raise prices, meaning all the hard-working people have to pay more than they should have... they fire one of the cashier's that's just scraping by on minimum wage, anyway... the cheapen their products to where they can cover the losses... then the store loses quality, loses customers, and before you know it is closing stores across the country.

    So next time you pirate a Steven King book... don't say "Oh... that rich Steven King doesn't deserve the money anyway." Instead, ask yourself if that guy over in the print room of the publishing house deserves his pink slip because the company has to cut back on spending. That's the one you're pirating from... Mr. Executive will still be seeing his bonus until the whole thing collapses.

    This was Mario's point in the first place... why are books more expensive? People steal... and the pass the damages on to the consumer. Not the boss.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 09-19-2009 at 04:11 PM.
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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom View Post
    You think he doesn't "break character" on Opie and Anthony?
    Perhaps it was just always my hope that these guys are parodies -- after all, Anthony liked collecting Nazi paraphenalia...for real. As a rather bizarre tie in, I got selected for one of their "homeless shopping spree events" my first year here, when I was sleeping in an abandoned boat hull. I had a little AAA radio. When I heard about it, I went downtown one morning and intercepted them when they were doing the walk over to the Sirius building. They liked me well enough, said I smelled legitimately homeless, and the deal was done. The shopping mall they took us to in NJ was huge and ABSOLUTELY PACKED with O&A fans. Like they took me into Foot Locker because I wanted new shoes (that big ganstery guy who worked with Andrew Dice Clay was my "bodyguard" and paid for everything) and it got so crazy they had to pull the gates down on the front. There must have been 5000 people there waiting for us. At a certain point the credit card ran out and people started passing twenties in to cover my new jacket from Macy's

    Anyway, yeah, when I broke the law I did have an attitude about who deserved it most, because I really do believe in the Robin Hood principle, basically.

    What do you think happens when people steal from "the big, bag capitalist book store"? You think the executives say "Oh... no problem, just take it right out of my over-inflated bonus." No... they raise prices, meaning all the hard-working people have to pay more than they should have... they fire one of the cashier's that's just scraping by on minimum wage, anyway... the cheapen their products to where they can cover the losses... then the store loses quality, loses customers, and before you know it is closing stores across the country.
    I am familiar with the "shoplifting costs us all" mantra*. Yeah, so did this executive have a choice? If so, I'm not the guilty party. If not, hey, what can I say. I didn't have a choice. Circumstances. Reality. The bottom line. All that.

    * also, note, I would often panhandle outside. If I could get enough quarters, I didn't have to steal... but it is amazing how completely ungenerous most people appear to be from that perspective. Honest. It breeds contempt for humanity. Now I have the slightest bit of disposable cash, I always give at least $1 to whoever asks.
    Last edited by MK27; 09-19-2009 at 04:19 PM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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