John Scalzi’s You’re not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing is on the plate. This book costs $4.99 as a Kindle e-book. As a hardcover book, it costs $215 (+3.99 for shipping) new on Amazon, and $140.65 used! I double checked the prices, and the decimal point placement is correct. This book costs about 40 times more as a printed book than it does in electronic form. Put another way, the entire cost of the e-book buys you only the shipping for the physical copy. Or, even more unbelievable still, for the cost of a used hardcover of this book, you can buy yourself a $99 Kindle, a Kindle version of this book, and still have more than $35 leftover (for many a cup of coffee when you take your sparkling new Kindle and read the book at a coffee shop).
In case you think this is an anomaly contained to Amazon (I did), a quick web search reveals that Barnes & Noble is selling a used copy for $223.82 (+3.99 shipping), whereas the Nook e-version is $4.99, the same as the Kindle. Even that great flee market, eBay, cuts the price of a print used version only to $144.64. What gives? What is driving this enormous price differential? What kind of contract did John Scalzi sign for the electronic rights to the book vs. the printed version?
Finally, where does this leave libraries (
who I’d venture to guess offer the print version to any title they acquire electronically)? I checked the WorldCat holdings for the book, and a mere 4 libraries in California have it in their stacks. A great shame for any patron who want to read the paper version!