Monday, April 17, 2006

Something just doesn't seem right

A few months ago, I purchased a book. (Okay, I purchased a lot of books, but I am talking about once specific book.)

The printed price on the cover of the 600-page paperback is 95 cents.

There are two second-hand prices written inside the front cover. The first, in bold felt-tip pen, is 10 cents.

The next price is penciled in, along with a catalog number of some kind, and at that time, the book cost $6.50.

I paid $10.00, plus shipping, for the same 600-page paperback, which is now over 50 years old, by the way.

Some things improve with age, but paperback books are not among them. Why does my 50-year old book cost ten times as much as it did when it first went on sale? I did a little research, and a little math. If I were earning an average weekly salary in 1944, when the book was printed, it would have cost me 3% of my salary to buy the book. If I were earning an average weekly salary today, the current price is 1.4% of that average salary. So, while the actual cost is ten times the original price, the book might be considered to take only half as much of my available funds as it would have 50 years ago. But still. You'd think after 50 years, you'd get a better bargain than that.

The book in question is _A History of Education in Antiquity_, by H.I. Marrou. Originally written in French, this book has been considered a "classic" in its field since it was published. It is still considered the authoritative work on this, admittedly obscure, area of interest. Every modern book on classical education that I have read has made reference to this work. So I am going to read it. And I already know that what I am going to learn from this book is going to be worth more than $10 to me. So maybe it was a good deal, after all.

I won't be selling it.


At 6:55 AM , Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Hey, this is one of those books I picked up for fifty cents at a thrift shop or library bookstore because it looked interesting to me. I just unpacked it last week. Guess I'd better read it!

At 2:40 PM , Blogger Krakovianka said...

What a deal! But you won't get your 50 cents' worth if you don't read it...


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