NOTE: This post is not mocking the authors mentioned, merely highlighting the irony of anti-capitalist book prices.
The prices of some anti-capitalist books have a decidedly capitalist ring to them.
The 2003 book, Anti-Capitalism: A Marxist Introduction, has a hardcover price starting at $69.95 on Amazon—for the used version. One copy is going for $675—display value?
If books are expensive enough, publishers can make money on them even if they only sell a few hundred copies.
A 2015 Guardian article on the practice offered this summary: “Seventy-five [different] books, £80 each, selling on average 300 copies. That’s £1.8m.”
The author of that article had been asked by a commissioning editor of a publisher to write a book. The author asked how the editor had found him:
“Um, well, I found your name on your university website.”
At the time, there was no information about me on the university website. No publication list, no information about my research interest, not even a photograph.
So I’d been asked to write a book about whatever I wanted, and this editor didn’t even know whether I’d written anything before. It didn’t matter. It would sell its 300 copies regardless. Not to people with an interest in reading the book, but to librarians who would put it on a shelf and then, a few years later, probably bury it in a storeroom.
Unlike some academic books, though, Alfredo’s title has a paperback version. You can buy that for just under $31 on Amazon, and a couple of sellers there had it for less.
If you introduce fellow animals into the anti-capitalist equation, though, this could raise the price.
Steve Best’s book, The Politics of Total Liberation, curiously charges more for the Kindle version of the book—$81.20—than the hardcover version at around $56 used to about $76 new.
A more recently released title, Animal Oppression and Capitalism, outdoes that, though. Possibly because it’s a two volume set, the Kindle version retails for $142.52, although the hardcover version is ‘rightly’ more expensive at $164.
There’s no paperback version at present.
Still, perhaps anti-capitalists should be thankful: they don’t have to pay anywhere near $23 million for a book on flies.