The Kindle store is sort of like a quantum vacuum; items flicker into and out of existence, and when they’re there, their measurable attributes don’t stand still.
An Ethiopian Romance · That’s the subtitle of The Chains of Heaven by Philip Marsden (here’s another listing from amazon.ca). I bought it on Kindle, based on a recommendation in The Economist, and enjoyed it as much as anything I’ve read in the last ten years.
It’s not there any more. Except for sometimes it is, maybe as a consequence of where I am or what browser I’m using. This is baffling. Someone took the work to prepare it for online publication and get it up online. Why on earth would one ever take it down? The cost of hosting it is more or less zero, and even if only a couple of people a year bought it, they’d make money. How can the Long Tail have a chance if merchants treat their shelf space as finite?
Pricing · I get reports from Amazon on things people buy there after following links from here. Some of them are not books, and are surprising. But the book pricing is weird. Here’s a little snippet of the report covering sales of Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story, which I recently raved over in this space.
The second column is the unit price, and the third the number of copies at that price. I guess you can explain some of the price variation in terms of exchange rates. But still... it’s the same batch of electrons, being sold at 7 distinct prices. Weird.
This retailing thing, it’s complicated.