David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Hacking my way through the Amazon

February 12, 2011:  Hacking my way through the Amazon

Within the first few days that It's All Academic was available, Amazon.com was already offering used copies for less than the list price.  "Who the hell could have a used copy, already?" I wondered. Even today as I look at the purchasing options for the paperback, I see that one used copy is available for a price more than the list price.  Go figure!

 Even now, almost five months from the release of the book, I'm still waiting for IUniverse to tell me how many books have been sold through the outlets, such as Amazon.com, as well as bookstores.  I'm not sure what to expect, because the figures for sales through the IUniverse website became pretty much nil after the first month or so anyway.  Why pay full price when all these outlets are offering it for much less?  I'm not even obsessed with the royalty issue, I'd just like to get a sense of total sales. 

IUniverse cautions their writers about putting too much weight on the "Amazon Bestseller Rank."  Apparently Amazon is very secretive about the calculations used to determine that rank.  All I know is that when the book was first available and people were going to Amazon, I could get excited to see the book go from the 1,121,248 bestseller to the 35,310 bestseller.  As one friend told me, "take solace in the fact that you have a better seller." Anyway, it didn't take me long to stop even looking at that ranking.

Within the past few weeks,  Amazon has been able to say that people who have bought It's All Academic have also purchased Steven King's Under The Dome.  It is the first "customers who have bought this item . . ." reference for It's All Academic.  (And there was much rejoicing!) Surprisingly, when I go to Under The Dome's Amazon page, It's All Academic is nowhere to be found in the "Customers who have bought this item have also bought. " Who would have guessed that people who buy Stephen King buy a lot more Stephen King, or when not King, Dean Koontz?

Finally, what about "related forums" for customer discussions.  No one's started one on It's All Academic and that's o.k., but I'm fascinated that Amazon lists two related forums for the book. One is the mystery forum, a painful recognition that the book will frequently be labeled mystery just because there is a reference to a dead dean in the first sentence, and that the investigation of the murder is the background for the more interesting investigation (at least for me):  how is it that an institution like Boan University operates?  Still, I can accept being part of the mystery forum, if for no other reason, I absolutely love mysteries. However, when the second forum is "textbook buyback," I cringe.  As the novel implies briefly, the textbook industry is one of higher education's challenges, and I'm not sure I want discussion of It's All Academic tossed in with complaints about why the introduction to statistics textbook is bought back at a fraction of which it was sold.