A Penny for your Thoughts. How can Amazon Sell Books for a Penny?

by Jan 11, 2016Digital Marketing

I love when January comes around because as wonderful as entering a new calendar year and feeling a reset, this last 6 months I have dedicated to not waiting until the “new” year comes to accomplish what I want (and in most cases, need to). So that being said, in December I was reminiscing over childhood memories of the days, literally multiple days that I would spend in bed reading fascinating books. I can’t remember though the moment that I stopped reading, the moment I deemed work and success more important than taking that time for myself to do something I enjoy.

Last year I had the opportunity to spend a couple months in Mumbai, India. When talking about my trip, so many times people would ask “have you read Shantaram?”. This past summer I started reading Shantaram, I read the whole book front to back in 2 weeks (it’s a massive book). I think this was the moment my boyfriend realized how much of an inner nerd I am.

Rekindling my relationship with a cant-put-down novel I decided it’s time to start reading. Following Mark Zuckerberg’s 2015 resolution of reading 2 books a month, I thought this was a great goal to follow. In search of my next daily scapegoat, I trotted off to the used book store to support the local Literacy foundation. This turned out to be a unique experience, almost every book I was looking for was not there, with a lot of chaos throughout the store.

After recalling a book title “When to Rob a Bank” in the business section a couple months back, it caught my attention, not that I’m interested in robbing a bank, but it turns out this book was written by the authors of Freakonomics and a whole bunch of mini stories by an economist. That found me the “How to Think like a Freak” title at the used book store. However left me without the original book, Freakonomics. You can buy this book anywhere, from Chapters, Cole Books, Abe Books and a whole slew of online retail locations.

I found this book and many used other books (listed as in fair, good or great condition) from a ton of Sellers on Amazon, and get this for $0.01. Books for a Penny! In Canada, a penny is not even considered a currency and is now rounded up or down to the next nickel. You could say it’s free. However, shipping and handling were required which did cost $6.38 (to Canada). This book (because it’s so good), couldn’t be found new in stores or even as an e-book for less than $18. All in all, I saved around $11, thanks Amazon and Green Books!


The book itself costs $0.01 but Amazon collects $3.99 from the Buyer in shipping fees. From this $3.99, Amazon collects $1.35 “closing fee”.  The Seller of this books receives $2.66 ($0.01 + $2.63 shipping allowance).  The Seller doesn’t pay the $0.99 fee per sale because they are most likely a Pro Merchant, however they do pay a monthly subscription.   The shipping will cost the Seller $2.35 (1lb weight) in postage for shipping and recycled packaging is free. The profit on a book the Seller gets for free somehow is $0.31.  This is not including labour costs to make it happen.  Amazon is clearly the winner, as their profit is $1.35 vs. $0.31 for the Seller.  All for a $0.01 book.

My thoughts on Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt? LOVED IT! I would suggest this is a must read book. This is one of the first books that I actually stopped reading it one night because I was worried about not being able to read it the next day. I also suggest reading the sequal “How to Think Like a Freak” and I’m just about to load “How to Rob a Bank” onto my kobo. Freakonomics explores questions such as What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?; How much do parents really matter?; and explore the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan. Everyday riddles you haven’t thought of and make you think of the incentives and root causes through a unique story telling format. Since I started reading the book, I have found myself on numerous equations bringing “Freakonomics” up in conversation.

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