Every now and again someone picks up a book, examines it with interest, then looks it up on their phone, announces it’s cheaper on Amazon and puts it down again. This is fine, I get it (particularly these days, of course). But I could do without the accusatory looks, as though I am deliberately overcharging like a greedy profiteer.
When it comes to pre-loved or rare books, Amazon prices are sometimes weird anyway. What’s being asked is not necessarily what anyone is willing to pay, something which I bear in mind when discussing what I might offer for a bundle of vintage smut someone wants to offload. If I think things are out-of-the-way valuable I often refer the seller to Ram Books as they might get a better deal from a specialist who is likely to have a list of particular things a deep-pocketed client is looking for. I’m not always in a position to pay upfront for a high-end, hard-to-find book that might not find a new home for several months.
I mostly source new books from distributors, though I get them direct from small publishers when I can, as that tends to mean a better deal for them and for me. However, some online booksellers, particularly Amazon, sometimes drop prices of various titles without much warning while I generally sell things at a price which factors in what I originally paid.
OK, sometimes the Zon’s unexpected discounting works in my favour in that I can grab half a dozen copies of something popular at a distributor-level discount on the cover price and, yes, sometimes I will pass a bit of that discount along to customers, but not all of it. Like any retailer, I have other expenses (pitch rent, train travel, packaging) to consider. I used to feel a tiny bit guilty when I got new small-press books at reduced prices, but then I found out that, actually, it’s something of an everyone-but-Jeff-is-winning deal for the indie publisher.