Used books and money left on the street

I have to get something off my chest that has bothered me for quite some time. To start I have to mention that my cousin wrote the fantastic book “Albtraum Sicherheit – Interessen und Geschäfte hinter der Sicherheitspolitik” (nightmare security – interests and business behind the politics of security). The book was available on Amazon from day one and also from day one there were offers for € 0,99 cents of used copies of the book. Leaving the question aside where those used copies came from I want to focus on a more capitalistic aspect of those used books.

Let’s suppose a book costs € 12.99 on the day it is published. Right next to it, Amazon allows a third party store to sell used books. These used books typically start at € 0.99 + € 3.00 shipping.

Why does the used book seller not operate with the following equation in mind:

  € 12.99 cost of the new book
– €   3.00 shipping
– €   3.90 (30% discount towards the price of the new book, assumed a mint condition)
————
€  6.09

This means that even with a 30% discount towards the original price of the book the used book seller could have a 5 times higher revenue to the tune of € 6.09 – € 0.99 = € 5.10

Can someone please explain to me, how it makes sense financially to leave this money on the table? You would still undercut the new version of the book. You would not even have to share the extra revenue with the author or the publisher (which I personally think is a shame, but that’s a different story).

Please leave a comment to get me to understand the thinking behind this!

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