Value of Words

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C J Sansom’s counter-factual history of Britain in the fifties, Dominion, is in the top ten UK fiction hardback sales list, selling, according to the Guardian, selling nearly 8000 copies per week. The reviews have been good, so I thought I would get it for my father for Christmas. He likes a hefty historical thriller, mostly because he was around when most of history happened. The book is priced, according to the PanMacmillan website, at £18.99 with the e-book priced at £11.99. I went to Amazon last week to order his copy and the hardback was listed at £9, but also saw that the kindle e-book was listed as 20p. The advantage of this is I could read it first and check it was suitable, which it was. By this week the kindle prices was up to £6.83. I assume the business logic for so aggressively pricing the kindle edition for a short time was to drive it into the kindle bestselling lists so that readers looking for gifts would see its higher ranking and buy the kindle book at the revised higher price, unaware that the sales behind its kindle sales list position were based on almost giving it away. Aggressive prices also distort reader reviews: I am happy to give it a 5 star rating having bought it for 20p, but might temper my enthusiasm if I had paid £6.83.

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