Saturday, December 24, 2005

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So much for the market clearing price

On this last half-day of the holiday shopping season, I gazed upon my son with horror as he broke the spine of The Essential Calvin and Hobbes. This has symbolized my reaction to my son's recent interest in my paperback Calvin and Hobbes collections -- joy at watching him read combined with a mild dose of horror at the way he's treating the books. [Dude, he's only five--ed. I didn't say I blamed him -- I said I watched him, mute and helples, as it happened.]

However, I decided to take this as a sign to go online and buy The Complete Calvin and Hobbes from They were listing used & new from $149.99 with the following note:

Due to the number of copies printed, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is currently unavailable. The publisher is planning to reprint this title in April 2006 and copies will become available soon afterward.
On a lark, I checked to see if Barnes and Noble had it. Not only were they carrying it, but at it was marked down to $105.

I confess to being surprised that there was this much of a price and quantity spread between Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It does make one wonder if the Economist is correct to crow about the advantages of being number two in a business.

Readers are hereby encouraged to post the greatest price spreads they've ecountered in their shopping activities among established online merchants.

UPDATE: Thanks to Rhett in the comments section for offering a plausible explanation for the discrepancy in prices.

posted by Dan on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM


I bought volume 1 (hardcover) of The Jewish Political Tradition used (listed as new quality) for $9,95 when it sells new from Amazon for $31.50.

But I shipped it to my in-laws in the US, and I won't be in America until Tuesday morning, so who knows?

posted by: amechad on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM [permalink]

When the Far Side collection came out, many online retailers had marked it down to $65 (from close to $100) within 2 months of publication.

Needless to say, I'll be waiting until April for C&H... It was already marked down to $90 in my local Borders.

posted by: gbooks on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM [permalink]

This is an artifact of the way that Amazon both sells items and lists them for sale from third parties. Right now, Amazon itself is not taking orders for the Complete C&H, so they don't show you their price -- they only show you the lowest third-party price. (It is sort of odd that they aren't taking pre-orders, since they apparently know when there will be more available.)

When Amazon had it in stock, they were selling it for $95. IANAE, but I think it makes sense that they were the ones to sell out.

posted by: Rhett on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM [permalink] is a convenient way to compare pricing. Sometimes it is a bit confusing in that when you read the description of an item under the "used" listing it actually says "new". and often there are multiple linked lists for what I think are the same book. That aside, it's a resource worth checking out. (part of eBay) is where I often also shop for books (new and used) to feed my wife's reading obsession. If you check these two sites along with Amazon and the online bookstores, I think you are just about assured of finding the best price. And, yes, there often is a very large price variation among sources.

posted by: Terry Ott on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM [permalink]

If you use mozilla, book burro is a great tool.

It lists prices at amazon (new and used) , half, bn, and several other places.

posted by: john on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM [permalink]

That's easy. The difference in price between any science textbook on Amazon US and Amazon UK. For example General Chemistry by Ebbing and Gammon, in Germany 46.50 Euro (multiply by ~ 1.25 for $),

L34.95 in the UK (hardcover) $145

in the US, the paperback is not available (there are a few gray market imports)

For why see

posted by: Eli Rabett on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM [permalink]

T"he Complete C&H" is readily available at Costco and Sam's Club for about $80.

posted by: Chester White on 12.24.05 at 12:13 PM [permalink]

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