Wisdom of the Wishlist

I noticed something extraordinary on my Amazon Wishlist today. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 8th edition hardcover, has dropped in price from $88.31 to $57.44 per volume. That’s a drop of 35%, which brings the hardcover to within $5 of the paperback. Wow.

What happened? This anthology has been on my wishlist since before it was released in Canada, but I’ve been reluctant to buy it because of the price. I can’t remember if it was discounted before, but it certainly is now, though no discount is indicated on the website. The price in the US is only discounted 12%, so this is strictly a Canadian phenomenon. [Correction: I was looking at the wrong edition; the US price is similarlydiscounted.] Perhaps a new printing or revised edition is on its way, though there is no indication of it on Norton’s site.

Who can divine the secrets of Amazon? The main reason I noticed this is because when I add something to my Wishlist, I note down the price at that time in the “notes” box. That way I can track changes in the price over time. More often than not the price goes down, often marginally but sometimes substantially, as in this case. This is in contrast to the tendency of books left in a shopping cart to increase in price over time.

There is a danger to leaving things on your wishlist too long, though. I’ve seen things go out of print amazingly quickly, leaving me at the mercy of what can only be described as scalpers—Amazon Marketplace merchants who jack up the price of recently out-of-print items. One paperback book on my wishlist, the original price of which I neglected to write down but which couldn’t have been over $35, is now going for $170. Ridiculous.

So I guess the wisdom of the wishlist is to stay vigilant. Note down prices, and keep an eye on changes in availability, which is probably the best advance warning that something is about to go out of print. Does anyone else have any wishlist wisdom to share?


2 comments on “Wisdom of the Wishlist

  1. Chuck says:

    I've never been a price watcher where my Wish List is concerned but maybe I should be. I've certainly noticed the price fluctuation phenomenon in my cart and I can't really understand it. If it had something to do with exchange rates it might make sense though books typically have a sticker price that can't be adjusted readily, or so one would think. Have you noticed the fluctuations in the before-discount prices?

  2. Sylvia says:

    No, I don't pay much attention to list prices. They usually seem to be even (or .95) numbers, whereas the discounted prices are all over the place, so I think the list prices don't change.
    Now that I look at a few, it looks like the ones that show a US price and a Canadian equivalent do fluctuate with the exchange rate to some extent. Perhaps that explains the drop in price in so many of my wishlist books.
    The NAEL situation is an anomaly because there is no US price given nor any discount indicated. I suspect it's a temporary thing, especially since it says there are only two copies left. It might be back to the regular price when they get rid of this batch.

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