Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nerd Rage: Book Prices

Ok, so this is going to be a bit of a rant. Fair warning and all that.

So, lets set the stage. Last night a friend and I went out for sushi and then ended up wandering around Chapters to look at some books. Nothing to unusual at that. I love to just browse, and it's not unusual for me to pick something up. Saw one book that caught my interest, checked the price and it was 14.95 American and 16.95 Canadian. So, about two dollars difference. Not really that much when you get right on down to it. Seems reasonable to me, only being about a 13% difference, well within what you would expect with current currency fluctuations. So I decide to pick it up.

Little bit later I find another book, this one on how agriculture and the movement of foodstuffs has affected empires. Sounds cool to me, so I check the price; 25.00 American and 32.99 Canadian! Excuse me, why the 30% difference in price? Especially considering that the Canadian dollar hasn't been, on average, under 10% different than the American dollar this year? And this isn't even an isolated example. I looked in the fiction section and found the new Starcraft book detailing the early history of Jim Raynor and considered picking it up (don't judge, I like backstory to Starcraft) but the price differential is the same. Why should I buy any books at Chapters, when I can go over the border and even with duty and exchange rate still save probably around 15%?

The 15% is of course an estimate, as I'll admit I haven't crunched all the numbers and if I do make a trip over to the States it's likely to be for more than just books. But still, 30% difference in book prices when the Canadian dollar is as strong as it is and has been for an extended period is redonkulous.

It's even worse for a friend of mine. He's really into naval history, much more than I am, and looks for books on the subject. First off, he had to use the American Amazon site because the Canadian one sucks beyond belief (you can search for something using the same search string on both sites, find it on the American but not on the Canadian, then take the ISBN number and find it on the Canadian site). He'll find the book on the American site, then look it up on the Canadian one and the price differential will be even worse. A book that goes for 200 on the American site will be over 600 in Canada! Gah!

How many book sales are lost because of this? How many authors are getting shot in the foot by the cover prices of their books? Hell, how much of the Canadian book market, heck even the overall economy, compromised by this? If the Canadian price was more in line with the American price we would probably see a nice bump in book sales by chains up north, and hopefully more independents getting a slice of the action as well.

I know this stopped me from buying two books last night.

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