China Fact of the Day

by on June 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm in Books, Economics | Permalink

One of my students, Helen Yang, writes from China:

I encountered Tyler's book at a small bookstore. They were pirated English copies. Guess how much?  2 dollars per kilogram!  I bought one and paid 1 dollar because it weighed 0.5 kilo.

I wonder if this is what Tyler meant by Create Your Own Economy?

1 Andrew June 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm

If only publishers paid authors by the kilo…. I could write some mammoth text books…. & Ayn Rand would have made much more.

2 david June 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Since the books are pirated, the cost is almost wholly that of the paper. Hence charging by weight.

3 Andrew June 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Ah, so this is what atheists mean by the word “miracle.”

4 Bill June 2, 2010 at 3:55 pm

You should print every other chapter or section, and require the owner to download (with a key) the missing chapters to make a complete book. You can monitor the keyed material, denying access when you think the key was not acquired by the registered owner. You can also permit resale of the key, requiring the person who acquired the key with a book to register and pay a nominal fee.

Thieves aren’t too clever or industrious.

5 el June 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I just got back from China myself and saw a similar bookstore selling books for about 10 RMB / kg. I wonder if it’s the same store or if it’s that common? All the other bookstores I wandered into charged the usual retail prices (admittedly, these were large chain stores while the per kg store was clearly a mom & pop shop).

Ahh, I remember my childhood summers spent going to hole in the wall shops that sold manga copied from Taiwanese or HK editions (I’m not sure if there were ANY legal mainland Chinese versions at the time, but I’m sure no one would’ve bought them anyway)

6 Brett June 3, 2010 at 1:06 am

Teaching students to blog is all you guys do at gmu. Or maybe only those students who like to blog (rather than research) go to gmu?

7 Indian June 3, 2010 at 3:45 am

Happens in India all the time! And Thailand too, there shop-owners convince you by saying “xyz product is the no.1 copy of original” (actual sentence)!

Solution is to print economy editions for this part of the world and that too ASAP – because pirates aren’t going to wait for long! Wont eradicate the problem, but fix majority of it.

Some Indian publishers price books cheap – fiction at around $2 and non-fiction at around $7. If they can make money at these prices, why can’t others?

8 Gabi Huiber June 3, 2010 at 10:27 am

Cool. Back in 1990 in Eastern Europe one popular business trend was to sell gently used clothes imported from the West in what I assume must have been huge bales of mixed items. These clothes were sold by the kilo too, presented in open bins that customers would rifle through. In Transylvania these shops were called diggers, using the Hungarian word specific for the chaotic kind of digging that pigs do with their snouts. They were fun.

9 Marco Bertini June 6, 2010 at 10:47 am

In Beijing I found a section of “photocopies of originals”, but they were not sold by the weight. Prices were 1/10 of the original:

10 mbt shoes August 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm

When I was in China 2 years ago, Peking University ran two copy/printing offices inside the campus that pirated foreign textbooks in a grand scale; they even accepted custom request. The price is determined by the number of pages.

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