Weird Book Prices

We are having this silly secret Santa thing at our office party in a couple of weeks time. You know how it works: you draw a name and you buy a gift for that person to the value of, say, fifty bux, and someone else who drew your name buys a gift for you. I’ve drawn the name of a Shona oke from Zimbabwe, so I thought I’d look for something to do with his culture. To that end I ran a search on (books section), and these are the first few hits:–

Peasants, Traders, and Wives - Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe (Paperback)
Elizabeth Schmidt R457

Rhetoric in Shona Audio Agricultural Adverts Aired on Radio Zimbabwe (Paperback)
Otto Tendayi Mponda R900

Shona Religion of Zimbabwe (Paperback)
Takawira Kazembe R1241

Judaic Traits in Funerary Customs of the Shona of Zimbabwe (Paperback)
Canisius Mwandayi R955

Why are these books (paperbacks nogal) so expensive? I suspect it’s because of the lack of economies of scale–they can’t expect to sell more than one copy of “Rhetoric in Shona Audio Agricultural Adverts Aired on Radio Zimbabwe”, and that will probably be to the author’s mother.

Eish… for paperbacks… nope, get him “there’s a Bantu in my Bathroom”, or “50 people that stuffed SA up”… Much cheaper and might get him to think a bit too. >:D

Check Kalahari as well, sometimes they have obscure titles at dirt cheap prices.

I hate these office initiatives. Its annoying, a waste of money and personally I feel its insensitive, that little chicky on the switchboard… she doesnt earn much and now she needs to schlep out R50 to a colleague instead of on her kid.

Specialist and obscure titles usually are pricey because, as you suggest, their print runs are typically quite small, being in the hundreds or low thousands, which means that the production overheads are proportionally higher. The unit cost difference between hardcover and paperback isn’t huge either.

Then again the titles you’re looking at may well have been printed on recycled Zimbabwe dollar notes and the publishers accidentally shifted the currency conversion factor by eight decimal places…