A misunderstanding of book pricing By Tamiru Ayele

February 20th, 2015 Print Print Email Email

I read a confounding piece by Meshesha Mekonnen (PhD) about an offprint book that seems to be way overpriced. Dr. Mekonnen even congratulated the author, Tecola Hagos, for having written a book which can fetch $2585.85 a copy. “Congratulations Prof. Tecola Hagos, what a remarkable accomplishment! Your book was priced for $2,585.58 per copy – I hope you got to reap some of these financial benefits,” Dr. Mekonnen wrote.

While I appreciate the doctor’s effort to draw our attention to a book written in 1999 but has since been a vintage college, he seems to miss the small print and some details that could have made his article more informative and complete.

Most books that are likely to be overpriced beyond the real value are most likely out of print or ancient. It is just simply a case of demand and supply. The fact that Mr. Hagos’ book, Demystifying Political Thought, Power, and Economic Development: A Guest Lecture at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Khepera, 1999, is overpriced cannot be good news for the author. Given the fact that the book was published a decade and half ago but has been priced like an antique shows something that Mr. Mekonnen missed. One can easily figure out that the book was published in limited numbers. If there is a huge interest for the book, as Dr. Mekonnen assumed the publishers would have reprinted the book, which would be more beneficial to the author than the arbitrary price of rare book sellers.

If Dr. Mekonnen had done more research, he would also have found one important fact that rare books, which the author wrote when he was an official of the TPLF-led regime, pricing is arbitrary. In fact, the book in question can illustrate this reality.

The seller which listed the price of the antique book at $2585.85 on Amazon is Thrift Books. The same seller has set the price at $787.81 Barnes & Noble. Mind you, there price difference , even if the seller is the same, is $1798.07. What is even more interesting is another fact that I have just discovered. The very seller that has outrageously priced the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble has offered the same book on Abebooks for $88.59. In each case, Thrift Books has indicated that it has only one single copy. The price difference between the offer on Amazon and Abebooks is almost $2500.

It seems to me that there is something wrong with Thrift Book price setters that seem so arbitrary that the prices for the same book on the three online book markets are not based on supply and demand.


Whatever the case, if any vintage book collector is really desperate to have a copy of this book, which doesn’t seem to be reprinted anymore, they can buy it from Abebooks for the much more affordable price of on AbeBooks. The buyer’s, whoever they may be will immediately save $2500 or make a profit in that margin, if there is such a staggering demand for a copy. But Thrift Books needs to recheck its price tags than pricing the same book in the range of $88 to $2586. It is quite obviously absurd.

In any case, I hope my humble contribution has somehow stabilized the price of a book that Dr. Mekonnen says is in huge demand.

  1. Gerum
    | #1

    Ato Tamiru Ayele
    It never stops to amaze me how so called Ethiopian Intellectuals keep posting article after article about Pro Tecol Hagos book Price.
    WHO CARES IF HIS BOOK IS SELLING FOR ONE-MILLION DOOLAR ! Dont you have better things do do in your life ? Is Tecola Hagos book the most imporant thing for Ethiopians life? OR it’s just pure jelousy thats driving you guys crazy

    We are sick and tired of looking at article from EDUCATED MOROONS who simply publish article every week to show their PhD Title or to attack another felow Ethiopian

    GET A LIFE !!!!

  2. Kaleb
    | #2

    This is all for what? Oh! Small minds

  3. Negatu Ayele
    | #3

    People are realistic, be realistic. It is unheard of that a book written by an eminent Ethiopian “scholar” not to long ago does not cost nearly three thousand US dollars. The whole story is highly unlikely. People, where is your sense of humor. I am disappointed that there are a lot of Ethiopians who are nothing but a standing jock like the Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalgne unpopularely known as HD. One must be a cretin to believe this rubbish like the professor, who started the whole thing! One phone call to Amazon will verify it for you. Take it with good humor.

  4. aha!
    | #4

    This article by Tamiru Ayele sets the condition for rebuttal to Dr. Mekonen’s article about the pricing of Dr. Hagos’s book entitled “Demystifying political thought, power, and economic development- aguest lecture at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1999″, from the stand point of antique road shows, by a book collector of a book that is out of print, rather than the supply and demand by readers in market oriented economy from book stores and/or online purchases.

    In this case the demand for the book itself has been initiated by the “antique book collector and advertised on Amazon and others, but not by the demand of the readers as with regular market driven economy of supply and demand in which case the book seller would have reprinted the book to sell it at a price commensurate with the demand.

    The other revealing fact from this article is that which states “If Dr. Mekonen had done more research, he would also have found one important fact that the rare book, which the author wrote when he was an o official of the TPLF-led regime, pricing is arbitrary”, with a qualifier research meaning search and retrieve data/information.

    Not only that “the pricing is arbitrary”, ie not market oriented to my understanding, but also the content might be biased towards the TPLF-led regime with its ideologies of ethnic federalism and secessionism in its political model and totalitarianism as a carry overfrom the Derg regime and its creation of state capitalism as its economic model, assisted by crony capitalism by TPLF/Political, TPLF/EFFORT, TPLF affiliated enterprises and foreign corporations particularly in terms of land leases, while denying the silent majority of Ethiopians free market capitalism particularly in terms of private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia.

    Therefore, ones article or book is likely to be scrutinized in terms of which of the two ideologies: Ethiopian Nationalism with goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the last item refers to individual freedom, liberty and equality before the law has precedence of over ethnic and secessionist rights for a true democracy to have a foothold in Ethiopia with non-violent strategies to achieve those goals and the current ideologies of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism that denies the individual its political and economic freedom, free market capitalism and democracy, a rule by the people, for the people and of the people.

    While the ideas presented in an article or a book may be tested against the above ideologies, the litmus test for the audience/or the individual is to put Ethiopiawinet ahead of ones ethnicity, with due regard to ones citizenship to Ethiopia, the national interest ahead of ones self interest and put ones loyalty to the tax payers by coalescing around the national agenda to achieve the goals for Ethiopian Nationalism to save Ethiopia from disintegration into ethnic homelands, a prelude to secessionism, future boundary conflicts, ethnic cleansing, human trafficking and ethnic dictatorship of minority now and majority ethnic rule in the future, which only could be resolved by ratification of the constitution and resorting to original provincial boundaries of assorted ethnic groups to recreate autonomous states of the original provinces to which Eritrean province may want to join or surrender one or two of the ports to Ethiopia.

  5. Tecola W. Hagos
    | #5

    I read Mr. Tamiru Ayele’s brief article “A Misunderstanding on Tecola’s book price,” and the comments of readers. I find the article to be full of lies, demeaning, and accusatory statements. Before accusing Prof Mekonnen for missing “the small print and some details,” Tamiru Ayele himself should have checked his odious misrepresentation about me writing the said book while I was an official of the “TPLF-led regime.”
    Tamiru Ayele wrote, “If Dr. Mekonnen had done more research, he would also have found one important fact that rare books, which the author wrote when he was an official of the TPLF-led regime, pricing is arbitrary. In fact, the book in question can illustrate this reality.” [emphasis mine]

    The fact of the matter is that I resigned from the Ethiopian Government in 1993 having worked as a senior advisor for a little over a year and a half, and I left Ethiopia in 1993. I have never contacted or worked in any capacity with the leaders of the TPLF or that of the Ethiopian Government ever since. I was a fellow at Harvard University Law School for almost two academic years 1993 to 1995. Starting from 1998 to date, for the last seventeen years, I have been teaching Philosophy and Composition Courses at a local college in Maryland. [As an aside, let Tamiru Ayele and all other individuals know that would not be heaping some special honor on me if they address me as “Prof Tecola W. Hagos,” which is how even the President of the college addresses me.

    Although I appreciate the role of Editors of websites, nevertheless, they should not have wasted space and time for such sophomoric writing of Tamiru Ayele that adds nothing to the mystery of the pricing of books of any kind. The Price is still high, almost the same price only less by fifty dollars. I demand a public apology for misrepresentation and the innuendo from Tamiru Ayele and a solemn promise that he will not write about me or in reference to me ever again without first checking his facts.

    A small matter for Aha! #4 to consider is that the economic principle dealing with cost/price is better understood through the “opportunity cost” of an item that is what one gives up to get that item, rather than the supply-demand method or principle.

    Tecola W. Hagos
    Tecola W. Hagos

  6. aha!
    | #6

    Lo and behold as I predicted Prof Tecola Hagos rebutted by stating: “The book is based on “Seminar-lecture I conducted (presented?) at John F. Kennedy School of Government”, clarifying the subtitle, but with no hint about its content or its argumentative positions/thesis to spare us ordering the book for exorbitant price. The other rebuttal Dr. Hagos offered by stating: “I resigned from the Ethiopian Government (TPLF/eprdf regime?) in 1993…… I was a fellow at Harvard University Law School for almost two and half hears in 1993-1999. I taught philosophy and composition courses since 1998 at a local college in Maryland. Although,the book might serve as test case about ones inclination is to which of the two ideologies, it is not clear why he left the advisory position before the draft constitution was signed in 1995, embracing the ideologies of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism which gives precedence to ethnic and secessionist rights over individual rights, denies free market capitalism at least in terms of private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia, divides Ethiopia’s land mass into ill defined boundaries, rather than original provincial boundaries other than to serve as a prelude to ethnic secessionism and future boundary conflicts, etc., which rebuts the time frame he had been in that Office, despite his mind set about the Ethiopian Government(TPLF/eprdf regime, where TPLF is the Politburo and the teletafi parties are only a cover for the TPLF with nominal autonomy over their respective ethnic homelands), where the loyal opposition parties in OPDO/EFDUF/Mederek/fdre are engaged in a peaceful struggle with the goals for ethnic rights, “yekili Mengistats iqulinet mebit Mekeber, human rights and democracy as a mirror image to the TPLF/eprdf regime and seeking for political space in terms of election only to achieve a bi-cameral seat in the parliament, which left it to one seat in the past and perhaps a little more seat in 2015 with no apparent ratification in the constitution from ethnic-oriented to people-oriented democratic rule.

  7. Taazabiw
    | #7

    Of all the Drs. and Professors of Dedebitawit Ethiopia
    Araya Gelawdewos is unique and genius in his ability to
    come up with original (self researched) selection of
    Titles for his articles without copying and pasting from
    wikimedia and US and foreign medias and writers.
    I have been observing his all articles and they are all
    original to him.
    Here are some examples.
    1. Ethiopia is “too big to fail…..”
    2. ” Clash of civilizations…….” and many more others.
    I verify that they are not plagiarized and copied from the
    works of other writers……kkkkk……kkkkk…….kkkkkkkk
    I am kidding Folks ! sorry !
    I am only saying he copies titles of articles of other people already printed out on the cyber world media and plagiarizes the intellectual
    work of others. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Getaw
    | #8

    The good prof Tecola Hagos still thinks the book worth $2,500. Really amazing.

  9. Taazabiw; London, UK
    | #9

    you got it wrong
    Tecola is greatly motivated and encouraged by his first
    book and is about to come up with a new book probably
    better than his first soon.
    As I heared it from close friends that are close to him.
    Tecola never expected that it will have so much impact
    when he wrote his first book. He only was attempting to
    reconcile and clarify misunderstanding and some issues
    only in profile and generalized form in his spare part
    time.But the one coming soon is said to have put more
    focus,detail and facts.

  10. Getaw
    | #10

    #9 Are you serious? Let’s bump it to $3,000, you and me. To the contrary, the book was so artificially priced because there was no taker, my friend. The article was written to inform the dummys, but there are still super-dummys more who do not get it.

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