Image: Hägar the Horrible Comic Strip
©King Feature Syndicate, Inc. (Artist: Chris Browne)
Question: “Why does the same book show up with different prices. What’s the difference?”
The Fairly Short Answer: There are many reasons for price differences, but primarily it is owing to the following:
1> Different Publishers: The same book can be and is printed by different Publishing houses with each publisher setting his own price. So Random House may price the book at INR750 (Execution) while Crown may choose to have a list price of INR1460 (Execution).
2> Different Editions: One might be an Indian edition printed in India, while the other is the International Edition printed in the US/UK.
3> Format: This essentially refers to the binding – Hardcover/Library Binding/Prebound/Paperback/Trade Paperback/Mass market Paperback – and so on. Each style of binding indicates a certain degree of quality, and accordingly influences the list price of the book.
The Fairly Long Answer: For the purpose of illustration, let’s take another title – “Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco – and compare 2 of the results side-by-side.
Rs. 405 -: PRICE :- Rs. 847
9780749397050 -: ISBN-13 :- 9780156001311
Paperback -: Binding :- Paperback
2004 -: Publishing Date :- 1994
Random House -: Publisher :- Houghton Mifflin
512 -: Number of Pages :- 552
English -: Language :- English
A few things become immediately obvious. Although both books are in English and are both Paperback Editions, the similarity ends here. The covers of the two books are different and the one on the right is priced at more than twice as the one on the left. Here’s why:
Books are over the years printed by various Publishers in various formats and bindings, each one having a fairly unique price.
ISBN13: The International Standard Book Number is a number assigned to every edition of a book and is unique to that particular edition. This 13 digit number is used for cataloguing and identification purposes, pretty much like humans and finger prints. By and large, a 13 digit number will belong to just one particular edition of a book (although some Publishers are notorious for recycling ISBNs!)
Since the edition on the left is different from that on the right, each of them have a different ‘unique’ ISBN number. The two editions are also printed 10 years apart (One in 2004 – the other in 1994) by two different publishers – Random House and Houghton Mifflin.
There is also a 40 page difference in the two books, although the content in both books is the same (for all practical purposes). This page difference is mostly dependant on the size and typeface used. Think of it as font and font size. Different typesettings and formatting styles mean different ‘lengths’. The 2004 will also have a forward or a preface that the earlier edition did not contain, and all of this adds up.
The edition on the left is an Indian Edition while the one on the right is an Imported Edition.
All these factors and everything else combined eventually adds up to different prices. In most cases and for all practical purposes, the content is the same. Except of course, when, let’s say:
* One is abridged while the other unabridged
* One is a pocket book while the other is not
* One is a newer updated edition while the other is the older one
That’s pretty much it. I’ll post updates as and when other things strike me. You guys are equally free to post comments and corrections.