In case you weren’t paying attention…

James Joyce, Ulysses, Kindle edition, $3.19.  Free shipping, too. 

Is the book market going the way of the music market, where there is a systematic redistribution of the surplus toward suppliers of the hardware rather than suppliers of the content?

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This is unbelievable.

I just paid $3 for a 20 year old copy of Ulysses at a yard sale lat Saturday and I thought I was getting a pretty deal. That is the only thing I've ever purchased at a yard sale in my entire life.

Right, but which Ulysses text? How much is the Annotated Ulysses, or the Stuart Gilbert companion text? And the copies of Hamlet and the Divine Comedy and Portrait of the Artist and the Odyssey which you have to read before you have a chance in hell of figuring out the Circe chapter...

"Is the book market going the way of the music market, where there is a systematic redistribution of the surplus toward suppliers of the hardware rather than suppliers of the content?"

Not until the hardware reproduces the printed page as well as the iPod reproduces CD audio.

...i.e., not until OLEDs are cheaper.

Now you can have Ulysses sitting not only unread on your bookshelf but now unread on your Kindle!

James Joyces, Ulysses, Project Gutenberg edition.
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4300

Price: free

My book royalties are about 4-5 bucks a sale. So, 3.19 for a book with zero marginal cost and zero royalty (public domain) seems not unreasonable. Add $4 to that for my royalty. The book now costs 7.00. What is cut out is the cost of of producing and distributing a hard copy of the book. That hits paper producers and printers and binders.

Agreed, Michael. In fact, those public schools that assign Joyce as reading material could be said to be imposing a government-subsidized deadweight loss on consumers.

Damn that Rent-seeking Irish modernist!

Also, who would want Ulysses on a Kindle? It's certainly not a book that is read straight through. I've talked to Joyce scholars who admit to having not read all of Ulysses. Certainly the bulk of sales are to college students, for whom the book wouldn't be useful on a Kindle anyways.

"Is the book market going the way of the music market, where there is a systematic redistribution of the surplus toward suppliers of the hardware rather than suppliers of the content?"

I'm sure James Joyce is upset about his reduced royalty payments. Shakespeare and Milton too.

Cost of a Kindle: $399.
Cost of membership at your local public library: $0.

I maintain my stance that buying books in any format is irrational. Yes, there's "opportunity cost," but you're already paying for the library in real money. Would you not managae a brokerage account that was losing money because of the opportunity cost? And how hard is it to get to the average suburban library or the local branch of any big city library?

A fairly common book like Ulysses seems like an especially foolish purchase.

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