Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book wars

Yesterday on All Things Considered, if you were listening on WMRA which is in high-fundraising mode, you missed a piece by Lynn Neary which I think would be of great interest to you if you are a book lover/buyer, "Nation's Retailers Engage In Online Book Pricing War."
 The gist of the story is that WalMart, Amazon, and Target have now cut the pre-order price on certain mega-sellers to $9.00. 

I checked WalMart's website and yes, it's true --10 as-yet-to-be-published, hardcover, sure-fire best sellers have had their prices slashed.  Sarah Palin's Going Rogue tops the list, which includes the next books from John Grisham, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King, Michael Crichton (published posthumously) and James Patterson.

So what does this mean to Stephen King? In an e-mail to The New York Times he first said he was "gobsmacked" by the price-slashing melee. He then went on to write this.

“My first job out of college was pumping gas, and we were involved in a price war then.We sold at 25 cents a gallon … then 24 … and when the guy across the street went to 22 cents a gallon, the Interstate 95 Gas where I worked went to 22 per gallon.”
“This went on for two weeks,” he continued, “and then it was over, just as mysteriously as it began. Does that story really have anything to do with the current price war over books, and the ramifications into the e-book business, which may have been the actual igniting factor? I don’t know, but it was fun telling the story.”

The publishing industry is over in Germany this week, for the Frankfurt Book Fair, its premier annual gathering dating back five centuries. The word is (duh!) that industry executives are worried . . .

As to that grand experiment , the WMRA 3 & 3 Fundraiser, when I left the studios yesterday at 7 PM,  we were at about 30-grand raised. If we can keep this up, the WMRA community should remain in fine financial fettle. But we do have to keep this up. . .

Go team! 
That number again, 1-800-677-9672 (800-NPR-WMRA) or you can support on-line at

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