Amazon Mystery: The Pricing of Books

LA Times Staffer David Streitfeld noticed something curious about’s shopping cart. When he put something in it, then left it there, the price changed. And it didn’t just change, often it went up.

    “On Nov. 6, seeking to boost my dubious culinary skills, I decided to buy “The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook.” I went to Amazon and placed the book in my electronic shopping cart but got distracted and never finished the transaction.
    The next day, I signed on to Amazon again. A pop-up message informed me that the price had increased from $11.02 to $11.53.
    This seemed odd.”

What’s the deal?

After replicating the effect several times, Streitfeld suspects Amazon might be using “dynamic pricing” which means the price of the book has a lot to do with recent sales, available inventory, and yes, maybe even the amount of people who’ve added a book to their shopping cart or put it on a wish list. Streitfeld contacted Amazon, but they declined to discuss their pricing strategies.

“Prices change,” spokesman Sean Sundwall said. “Prices go up, prices go down.”

Dynamic pricing is great for companies, but it tends to irritate consumers. Imagine a Coke machine that charged more when it was hot outside. Is Amazon doing this? We’ll have to add some items to our shopping cart and test it for ourselves. —MEGHANN MARCO

Amazon mystery: pricing of books [LA Times](Thanks, Jennifer)

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