Facepalm

Amazon is not acting in the interests of the market. Nor is it acting in the interests of the consumer.

Offering free delivery is now not acting in the interests of the consumer. Good to see Ritchie’s up with the idea of consumer surplus.

And the captured economics departments of so many universities.

Of course all the experts are wrong because they’ve been paid off.

Amusing that the scientific consensus can be wrong when it disagrees with Ritchie’s prejudices, isn’t it?

46 comments on “Facepalm

  1. Amazon seem to be becoming another WalMart. These lefties, they don’t like cheap stuff for the proles, do they?

  2. Amazon will be acting in its own(ers) interests (as it should) and does so by giving me more for less.

    Despite loving the sensuality of a paper book, the possibility of deciding to buy a book and getting 2 minutes later (Kindle store is bit clunky and unApple, but hey it works) is so good it has even overcome my prejudices.

    If, when I order dead wood books they decide not to charge postage and packaging, yeah! Way to go!

    Just how is this prejudicial?

    the old bookshop is going to have to up its game. But don’t tell me the market and consumer don’t benefit.

    I have to face up to similar pressures everyday in my business. Keeps me on my toes, I can tell you.

    Would I prefer a lovely monopoly? You bet I would, but that definitely would not be in favour of the market nor the consumer.

  3. Amazon is not acting in the interests … of the consumer.

    Yes it is. It offers me the same stuff, but cheaper.

    *also from that blog post*

    It’s the French who are standing up for free markets here

    Really, Ritchie? How? apparently by having

    French laws controlling the price of books.

    Even he can’t believe this shit, surely? Disingenuous or delusional. Or both.

  4. So, when Ritchie wants to read a … ‘Book’, are they called? …he goes to a place (bookstore? manual repository?) and purchases what he wants, if they have it in stock?

    That must take hours!

    How quaint!

    Posted from my Kindle

  5. I’m confused: if you have to charge to delivery when you sell a book to someone, how are the bookshops going to do it? Stand there holding it until you give them another few euros for handing it across the counter?

  6. I can sort of see an argument that goes big supermarkets undercut little shops until they all go out of business and the start charging monopoly prices. This doesn’t work because of other big supermarkets, its one of those zombie claims the left love.

    But how do they imagine it going to work with the Internet? Do they think Jeff Bezos sits in a chair stroking a white cat on his lap waiting until all the bookshops in France have closed and then upping his prices based on someone’s IP address?

    But this isn’t about protecting small book sellers, its about big bad USA company. If it had been a French company dominant in this sphere then we can be sure it would be receiving State protection.

  7. On a point of order & I do apologise for misleading the reader. The first on the above list is available Kindle edition only.
    Ah!
    We have an explanation from Mr Murphy

    “My new ebook – Over here and under-taxed – has been delayed by a week. However, Random House have now given me some locations where it can be pre-ordered for download. They are:

    Amazon UK

    Amazon.com

    Apple

    Random House

    I’d encourage the last. But if you are a Kindle or iTunes user then the others are for you, and neither I nor Random House are going to censor you if that’s your choice.

    In which case all those who want to suggest hypocrisy can now do so, but don’t bother to do so here. Respecting choice is not hypocrisy. It’s respecting choice.”

    And Random House are still only offering the e-edition. No actual book that can be sold by a bookshop. Choice, unhypocritical choice of course, is not being extended to the bookshops Murph so loves.

  8. SimonF – “I can sort of see an argument that goes big supermarkets undercut little shops until they all go out of business and the start charging monopoly prices.”

    It is a remarkably common assumption that business is about “cornering the market” then gouging people with over inflated prices. I can’t think of any real world examples that don’t involve Courageous State-imposed monopolies though.

  9. I can sort of see an argument that goes big supermarkets undercut little shops until they all go out of business and the start charging monopoly prices.

    as Steve says, this hasn’t ever happened in practice outside of organised crime or it’s legal equivalent (gov’t backed monopoly). Because unless you can back up your monopoly with menaces then the second the prices go above the point where a small supplier can undercut you, they do just that and you’re kind of back to square one.

    the argument that eg Tesco drives small shops out of business isn’t really true. The customer does that. Tesco just provides the means. If you really value your local small shop for non-pricing reasons (that are nonetheless economic, eg location, time of opening etc) then you will support it. My parents happily pay well over the odds in their local shop because unlike the supermarket it’s a two minute walk away, rather than a ten minute drive, which translated into time (money) and petrol (money) saved is a good deal. Also it’s open until 10pm every day including Christmas (they’re Sikhs and don’t much mind).

  10. When a market operates in Murphy’s favour it is “respecting choice”. Orwell could have invented the concept of Doublethink just for him, he is the living embodiment of it.

    Oh, and for the Left to claim university departments have been ‘captured’…dear oh dear. The hypocrisy is strong in this one.

  11. @ JuliaM
    Browsing in a bookshop is one of life’s cheaper pleasures. Also, since Murphy doesn’t have a proper job, he must have ample time during school hours to do so.

  12. Ah, but john77, I can ‘browse’ on my Kindle in the comfort of my own home, G&T in hand, by getting the first chapter entirely free!

  13. I noted in a private exchange earlier this week that, when presidential candidates address rallies in a foreign capital (London) to an audience of almost entirely young people, i.e. expats, then your country has a huge problem. When you find that country’s parliament working so very hard at looking after the interests of incumbent producers, it all becomes very clear how it got itself into that position.

    Are we headed that way?

    As for Murphy: he’s a knob; that is all.

  14. I can think of a case where a private company put prices up after driving out competition: Glasgow-to-Belfast Easyjet flights became much more expensive after Easyjet bought Go. That was years ago. Maybe someone else has started on the route and pushed prices back down again; I haven’t checked. I expect the same thing to happen again on Belfast-City-to-London in a few months, as Flybe are pulling out of that route — although Belfast City Airport are confident they’ll be able to find another airline to operate the same route, as it’s so popular.

    Anyway, it still doesn’t happen very much, and air routes are of course not a good example of private markets because of the massive amount of red tape involved in operating one.

    I see loads of people very confidently stating that Amazon’s grand plan is to charge us all an utter fortune for everything once they’ve cornered the market. But all the available evidence points to quite the opposite. Amazon are all about finding inefficiencies in markets and removing them, which benefits not only themselves but anyone else who wants to exploit the new efficiencies. Just look at Netflix. They’re in direct competition with Amazon’s Lovefilm, and they use Amazon’s cloud to enable their business. If Amazon really were doing what everyone claims they are, they’d be fucking with Netflix’s service to make their own look better, or they’d just outright refuse to do business with Netflix at all. Instead, they are more than happy to enable a direct competitor. They just don’t care if competition forces their prices down, as forcing prices down is their business plan regardless.

  15. Insurrection happens at grass root levels. We must start this as a movement amongst those who understand these ‘free market’ myths.

    Refuse to comply – pay the delivery charge as an act of defiance. That will stick it to The Man!

  16. Let me fix my post as some seem think I supported that argument:

    “I can sort of see an argument that seduces the terminally stupid that goes big supermarkets undercut little shops until they all go out of business and the start charging monopoly prices.

  17. @ Squander Two – I am almost with you. I think most companies dream/plan of a day where they can capture monopolistic profits. The Terminal Value of most DCF plans I see assumes that. So up to a point the lefties are correct – it’s just that it is extremely rare and short lived that monopoly profits actually come to pass in practice. But that requires an understanding of how markets regulate Capitalism, and lefties are never gonna get that one…

  18. The “drive out of business and then price gouge” tactic only works if the barriers to entry are substantial. What’s the most common barrier to entry?

  19. er, Amazon doesn’t do free delivery – it does prime – you pay an annual fee rather than a one off charge per delivery.

  20. SimonF,

    But this isn’t about protecting small book sellers, its about big bad USA company. If it had been a French company dominant in this sphere then we can be sure it would be receiving State protection.

    I don’t agree. There’s all sorts of protectionism in France for certain sorts of small businesses. The E Leclerc hypermarket chain has come up against it more times than Amazon.

    For example: buying tobacco. There are a number of licenses for a number of shops, based on the population of a town. And the prices are fixed. Which is why there isn’t a cigarette shop at Cite Europe in Coquelles. Coquelles already has a shop elsewhere.

    If you want to build a supermarket, it needs full planning consent, including support from current local businesses. Which is why the Leclercs and Auchans are on the outside of towns.

    And then there’s all sorts of laws covering any business that calls itself a boulangerie, like having to have enough of them open in an area at a particular time of year, and being able to demonstrate that you can make a baguette properly. You might be able to make awesome cottage loafs and pumpernickel, but you can’t call yourself a bakery.

  21. Tim Almond

    Thanks for the examples. I bet you’ll find more young French people opening up boulangeries in Southern England at the moment than in France.

    I think The Courageous State must be compulsory reading at all French universities!

  22. This just in from Ritchie:

    “In France book prices are regulated

    Free post circumvents that

    So abolishing free post makes local shops cheaper.”

    No it doesn’t you complete tit.

  23. I miss the Net Book Agreement. In the eighties I bought a lot of cut-price ‘damaged’ books, damaged only by the bookseller writing ‘damaged’ on it. Perhaps booksellers can revive that as a tactic.

    Blackwells on Charing X Road are charging for plastic carrier bags, (except if you insist) presumably on the basis that cutting down trees and bleaching the pulp makes them models of environmental virtue.

  24. alastair harris said “Richard – that’s not free delivery – its a discount on the price”

    Actually it’s mostly a discount on the order. The cost of posting two books isn’t two times the cost of posting one book, so there isn’t a set discount on the price of each book – it’s one that depends (inversely, oddly) on the number of books you buy.

    Which would be a rather odd form of discount, so it makes much more sense to refer to and think of it as free delivery.

  25. I would like to live forever, but in practice there are realities which prevent that.

    The Left really, REALLY has to get around this simplistic roadblock they have over desires (or even desires they imagine others to have) being in any way reality.

  26. We sell some stuff on amazon, competitors offer free delivery quite often. Overall same price as us, just we are charging cheap £2.20 postage while competitor charges postage included in the price. Either way buyer is paying for postage.

  27. @ JuliaM

    Our 16 year old daughter understands, as she has for half a dozen years or more, the unadulterated pleasure of browsing in a bookshop, especially a second hand bookshop. We love to discover little towns like Bridport in Dorset with three bookshops within just a few yards of each other. Two of her three siblings derive the same pleasure. We bought her an eReader about three years ago as she reads two or three books each week but she prefers to pay the extra for real books and it lies unused and unloved somewhere in a drawer. Our house is full of bookcases and book shelves filled to the brim, with many other books stored in drawers and tubs in the cyclone shelter (tropical North Queensland).

    Each to their own, but to us real books give a pleasure that eReaders cannot give.

  28. Oh, I’ve got plenty of ‘real books’ too, bought them for years, and loved old bookstores when on holiday – but the last real book I bought was…over a year ago.

    And as they start to back-convert, I’ll slowly replace them.

  29. I’ve got real books and eBooks. Gogol, Solzhenitsyn, Proust and Joyce on the shelves, Child, Brown, Clancy and Forsyth on the reader.

  30. Docbud, and you are free to pay more (and pay for the storage of, even if that is only a trivial opportunity cost) for real books. That’s choice, it’s what markets enable, to some extent.

    The printed book will go the way of all flesh eventually. You can complain about that, I can complain about the death of Kodachrome, and the increasing difficulty of getting darkroom chemicals and decent silver-gelatin photographic paper. That will pobably survive longer as a niche market than the printed book. The set up costs for a print run are horrendous, while once you have the setup the printing cost per book is pennies. Reduce that typesetting cost by several orders of magnitude (ebooks) and it becomes economical to publish almost anything.

    There’s a perception that free market economics means everyone has to have the cheapest version of everything, the perception is however rather consumer psychology. People want quantity over quality most of the time and love getting a bargain. A friend sells beds for a living and reckons 90% of sales are the second-cheapest bed in the shop. Another 50% are of the cheapest, while a whole 5% of customers go for one of the premium lines, and splash out a little on the thing they spend a third of their life on.

  31. Actually, I half thought about producing eg Gulag Archipelago covers to slip over Da Vinci Code etc books but eReaders killed the market.

    Books (paper) will soon be one of the coded ways of telling classes of people apart.

  32. James, I think there will always be books – just high quality hardbacks, which look and feel nice and furnish a room. Paperbacks are fucked.

  33. Interesting re beds.

    You’d think an order like that would be within affordabilty purely qualititative. Unlike say wine, where there’s just bullshit at both ends of the list.

    Go to most half decent restaurants and order the best (or most expensive) wine. Chances are they’ll be ‘just out’. It’s on the list for show, and they haven’t ever had one in, or possibly even see one.

    I learned this from a friend in Bordeaux who sells wine for a living. Most amusing watching him order stuff even he’d never seen, and the sommelier go through the charade of ‘checking’.

    Likewise the cheapest wine rarely sells because who wants to look a cheapskate. Best for quality and value is usually about three up from the bottom. Psychology.

  34. Decent bed matters a little too – people forget about the support for the mattress. The bed also affects the look of the room, the mattress is not so visual.

  35. @ JamesV
    I’ve inherited some books that are well over 100 years old and my college has at least one book that is over 1000 years old, so while the printed book will go the way of all flesh eventually that may ell coincide with all flesh going the same way.

  36. @ Interested
    This is a recent twist. A fairly long time ago when I left school my parents no longer had to support their offspring (apart from my (and my little sister’s) food, and decided to eat out on Saturday evenings. One amusement was seeing, when the waiter asked me for a choice of liqueur, how far down the list I got before he could say yes. I was not a weirdo, just a bit more sophisticated at 18 than the middle-aged person choosing what wines and liqueurs they should stock.

  37. And when its one of those genuine consensii that a majority of those included in actually support unlike the warming one that has not a single member from the vast majority of scientists who don’t work for the government.

  38. “so while the printed book will go the way of all flesh eventually that may well coincide with all flesh going the same way.”

    If Bob Geldoff is correct, books will outlive humanity.

  39. The set up costs for a print run are horrendous, while once you have the setup the printing cost per book is pennies. Reduce that typesetting cost by several orders of magnitude (ebooks) and it becomes economical to publish almost anything.

    There’s a middle way there, Julia – print on demand. The set up costs are very low because they’re mostly amortised over all the books printed on the machine. Getting a properly formatted source file to print is similar in effort to creating an ebook, and there’s a lot of overlap. The cost per page is considerably higher than a mass print run, but for small print runs it’s a lot more cost effective.

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