Re: More On Book Price Inflation
- From: Michael Hart <hart@[redacted]>
- Subject: Re: More On Book Price Inflation
- Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 12:30:09 -0800 (PST)
[Moderator: I'm taking this as Michael Hart's closing statement on the
"book price inflation" thread. See the more detailed comments on this
thread I made at the top of Jose Menendez's thread-closing statement.
I consider this thread now closed on this list, unless some other prior
participant in the thread wants to also add a closing statement of their
own. Submissions on other threads and topics will continue to be
taken until tomorrow's list-closing. - JMO]
Very Sad Closing for [BP]
I think it is very sad that Jose Menedez' 25K rant should
be perhaps the last major message received by those of us
left of "The Book People" listserver.
Normally, as you know, I would simply refute it paragraph
by paragraph, or line by line, but I haven't the time for
such a serious effort in the last 24 hours of [BP], and I
would like to think a different kind of parting comments,
which are in progress at this moment, will be better, and
more appreciated, by our audience.
Instead I will simply hit a few high points, and hope the
moderator will see fit not to ask me to re-edit them when
there is so little time left.
I am afraid I don't have time to try to correct spelling,
and still make the deadline for our last day of [B], not,
of course, that my typing and spelling were so great!
In more or less chronological order:
First of all, I was not the one cite the URL from:
I just passed it on and did not quote it.
Mr. Menendez would have you believe otherwise, in several
places, if you take the time read all 25K of his message.
Sorry, I can only take credit where credit is due, and it
was just not something I originated.
Second, perhaps I should not be surprised that a message,
as so often before, is allowed to refer so much to "form"
as opposed to content, taking an early stance against the
form in which I stated I was replying to lots of email in
one single message, however I find it totally "off topic"
and would like to think others might agree. The same has
to be said of the various [sic] comments of last week, as
they are just more "noise" in the system," as this week.
Third, once again I was just passing on the "Guardian's,"
story from someone who suggested it might be useful.
People often reply to me offlist or offline, who wish for
whatever reasons to remain anonymous, because they do not
wish to be impaled repeatedly on [BP] and I respect their
wishes without going out of my way to talk about it, thus
I simply include their references, period.
If I had made a major point of it, Mr. Menedez might have
a case for his ranting about my citations on the one hand
and non-citations on the other, but since I did not quote
from them in any major manner, and made no POINT from the
source material, what is there for him to refute. Nada.
I had mentioned that I did "not agree with the quotations
and had no desire to do anything to further their cause,"
and so I would not repeat them, yet Mr. Menendez wouldn't
leave them be. . . .
"Apparently you think I'm psychic" just plain lost me.
Fourth, as for the entire "wild inflation" comment let us
be sure to recall that quote is Mr. Menedez', not mine.
My quote is "hyper-inflation."
Misquoted and misrepresented several times.
[An aside, I have repeatedly asked if anyone believes the
rants and raves of Mr. Menedez and Mr. Noring, but no one
at all has replied that they believe. Personally, I have
had trouble believing either of them believes their words
even as they are writing them, but use them as weapons.]
Fifth, Mr. Menendez citation of inflation of 1970-1980.
By his own numbers prices doubled in a decade, the decade
legitimately numbered 1971-1980, to include 10 years.
If that is not inflation enough for you to worry, then it
must be that you don't have any financial interests quite
enough to notice if half your wealth disappeared so fast.
[Of course, there have been times and places with so much
inflation that the money became worthless, but I hope Mr.
Menedez does not mean we should think they are reasonable
ways for a currency to be run. Meanwhile it should seem,
according to quite current reports, that the U.S. dollar,
the currency in question, has lost almost half its power,
yet again, and this time is less than 10 years. However,
the price of the paperbacks cited still exceeds inflation
of the entire 50 years from 1955 to modern times.
Why 1955??? Mr. Menendez asks, as if it had not been the
subject of many conversations, because that is the year a
record started being published in "The Bowker Annual."
I simply went to the library and checked it out with some
more recent editions, even own one, just for reference in
the cases when so much mis/dis/information is around.
However, not even Mr. Menendez is going to say 60 times a
1955 price is what prices should be today, right?
As for his claim of "Casino Royale" at $8, if one finds a
copy that cheap [certainly NOT in the display racks quite
recently featuring the new movie version] that is still a
price 32 times as much as the original edition.
I have to challenge that Mr. Menendez has once again NOT!
gone to an actual Borders or Barnes & Noble to look.
And it appears this is rather consistent, see below.
The various Bond editions in those display racks were $15
as I recall, but not all exactly the same price, some had
a variation of $1, but the plus tax cost is still 60x.]
Enough on Bond for now.
Sixth, Mr. Menendez continues to shift between paperbacks
and hardbacks without comment.
I have only mentioned one kind of hardback, blank books--
other than when responding to other mentions, and then to
a minimal degree.
However, I fully and freely admit that hardbacks wouldn't
show exactly the same inflationary curve since their cost
had already settled out previously to 1955.
Seventh, Mr. Menendez includes inflation from Salon.com--
but I give the exact prices--then calculate inflation--it
is not a good idea to trust "inflation factors" as it has
been all too often the case they are biased, certainly an
accepted truth they do not agree with each other.
Please do not let Mr. Menendez fool you that inflation is
a topic that should be considered only decade by decade--
inflations should be considered FIRST over long periods--
SECOND over short periods. Just because the decades will
not line up exactly does mean the trends do no happen for
the longer periods. After all, no one say deflation, eh?
Eighth, Mr. Menedez returns to "Nothing Books" in manners
even I cannot follow, not to mention his silliness saying
I might have been in college in 1955. As above, I did do
a mention of various blank books, but only in response to
comments about the price of hardback paper, binding, etc.
The FACT that these books are of high quality, low price,
continually [not just remaindered as falsely stated] just
confirms that the excuses given here were not worthy.
Ninth, Mr. Menendez would like us not to consider payment
to higher level publishing industry people as valid for a
question about "Where the money goes when you buy books."
Instead he gives salaries for the middle and lower ranks.
Let's face it, we all know that editors and proofreaders,
and the rest of the staff workers don't get millions.
Did we need Mr. Menendez to tell us that? No. . . .
"Follow The Money". . .the first rule of reporting.
However, Mr. Menendez's figure of $52,117 per employee is
certainly well above the national average job, and even a
"Median National Income For A Family Of Four" with worker
statistics between two and three jobs, not to mention the
salaries here are at least 4 years old, now even higher.
"Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics!"
However, we haven't touched what the top 10% of publisher
salaries are. . .and we may find it difficult to do so.
The "CPI-U" figure Mr. Menendez uses, strong suspect, but
even so, he is talking a change from inflation 2003-2006,
of 6.9% - 5.4% or 1.5% OVER FOUR YEARS!!!
Sorry, not even the hardest headed member of the teams of
statisticians who make those figures would EVER say their
work was accurate enough to detect changes totalling 1.5%
over a four year period. . . .
Most of their admitted error ranges are over 10 times the
yearly average of Mr. Menendez' example. . .10 times!!!
OK, enough on those statistics. . . .
Tenth, the gas prices. Mr. Menendez figure of $.29 isn't
all that different that the one I cited as $.25, and I am
pretty sure I cited figures for every year of the 1950's,
and $.25 was more the average than $.29, but still, it is
not that much a difference, considering how retrospect it
all is, I'm not trying to argue a few cents in one year's
figures, I'm trying to argue many times the price over an
extended period. . .this is just a red herring.
If you use consistent figures [though I am the first from
any point of view to point out you have be SERIOUS! about
getting consistent figures] you will come out to the same
kind of conclusion, plus or minus a little bit.
As for the current price of gas, it is still nowhere near
the price of the current price of paperbacks, no matter a
whole rant and rave about that.
Just how much the inflation is/was [sic] depends so much,
so terribly much, on the day/month/year [sic] that it has
to be done over longer periods of time that conversations
we have had here, as long as they may have been.
Obviously as different times in this conversation pricing
of gas and rates of inflation have probably come close or
far to and from several convergence points.
I still maintain that Mr. Menedez would have been willing
to trade an average paperback for gallon of gas in 1955--
and would NOT NOT NOT be willing to do so today, by far!
Gas and paperback made at similar times, countries, etc.
After all, the books I mentioned went up much more than gas.
And when millions of people have to start burning new books to
run their cars, trucks, SUVs, minivans, motorcycles, etc., I'm
sure the media will start paying a lot more attention to the
price of new books. :)
People are still buying gas at record levels.
Other than the Harry Potter effect, books not doing as well.
>According to the BLS's Inflation Calculator, $1 in 1955 is
worth $7.80 in 2007. 7.8 times as much isn't the same as 12
times as much, unless the price of a gallon of gas was $0 back
then, and it wasn't. :)
Note the change from the previous CIS-U? indicator???
As I already pointed out, SERIOUS people don't change them.
I don't think I've ever seen a $15 mass market paperback.
(Have you?) And when I was at Borders to find out more about
your favorite blank books, I took a brief look through the
store's literature section. I quickly spotted one of my
favorite books, Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the
Western Front,"prominently placed on a shelf with the front
cover facing outward. It was a mass-market paperback edition
with a list price of $6.99.
I have to challenge that Mr. Menendez has once again NOT!
gone to an actual Borders or Barnes & Noble to look.
And it appears this is rather consistent, see more above.
Mr. Menendez had obviously somehow managed to avoid displays
of the movie and book versions of James Bond's Casino Royale
that were part of a publicity campaign costing millions!!!
However, I will admit there are still SOME $7.99 editions,
and _I_ will at least ASK for them, unlike Mr. Menedez who
seems to find ways NOT to find the $15 editions that could
hardly be missed over the past year!!!
I am hardly going to go into the short term breakdowns for
specific instances when books went up more or less than an
average book inflation rate for the past ~50 years.
Of course there were exceptions. . .there always are.
However, an exception does not change the nation average.
That's why they call it an "exception."
And we already covered the "semantic" issue of what trade
paperbacks are and are not. . .those are the one Menendez
seems NOT to ever be able to find in spite of millions of
dollars pushing those books in our faces.
I can't answer about "Nothing Books" with dust jackets at
$3. . .I can only say they weren't at my bookstores, they
were more money, and without dust jackets where I was.
This is just an example, not a national average or trend.
I never saw or heard of the leather editions, and the end
my college career here had already ended by 1974, so I am
unable to speculate on what happened then.
No, I didn't forget at all. I also didn't forget the price you
gave in this post for the ones with "~400 pages":
"The Current Batch of 'Nothing Books'" (11 Aug 2005)
The very first line in that post of yours was this:
"Price: $7.99 ~400 pages Cloth Binding in Several Colors"
And $7.99 was the price I saw on those blank books when I was
at Borders. Needless to say, $7.99 isn't half of $3.00 either.
First, I never saw them at $7.99, they were always half price,
or buy two get one free, etc. In the last few years, I think,
never over $3.99, but check each current report I made.
As for "half of $3.00" it is when you factor in inflation!!!
Nice try. . . .
> Not to mention the nicer bindings.
Nicer than your fictitious description of "The Nothing Book,"
but not nicer than the real thing. :)
I have not described Mr. Menedez points as "fictitious" or
any of the other nearly slanderous or libelous words used,
so frequently to define Mr. Menendez' style and demeanor.
I try as simply as I can to point to FACTS and then make a
comparison of those FACTS over the years.
Not once has Mr. Menendez admitted that the common edition
of "Casino Royale" and the other James Bond books sold via
the prominent display stands, are around 60x times pricing
of the original paperback edition. . . .
Not once has Mr. Menendez admitted that "mass paperbacks,"
as such, are being "phased out" in favor of these new kind
of paperbacks at twice the price, with no real name yet as
to what kind of paperbacks they are.
Perhaps this non-conversation will now come to an end.
Michael S. Hart