Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Who will buy? Quantum physics for the wealthy

I've just received my copy of Compendium of Quantum Physics, a hefty book of short articles on all sorts of aspects of quantum physics. I was sent a copy because I have a small contribution - the closest I'll ever come to having my name on an academic paper - as co-author with Professor Guenter Nimtz of the article on quantum mechanical tunneling. (If I'm honest, Prof. Nimtz wrote it, I just edited it and tweaked it a bit.)

But what I really wonder is who is going to buy this book. At Amazon.co.uk it is just under £130, while at Amazon.com you can snap it up at a bargain $157.99.

This is clearly not a popular science book. I'd say from the content that you would have to be an undergraduate physics student to get something out of it, but I can't imagine any students buying it.

I guess it's just going to be libraries, which is a shame in a way, because for the right audience (science writers, for instance) this is going to be a really useful resource - but I just can't see many people buying it at this price.

2 comments:

  1. Books like this may well only be bought by libraries which is why the price is so high; the economics are really wrong though because I'm sure with a little thought and some creativity the price point could be reduced by 90% so benefiting a lot more people (students as well).

    Apropos the same theme there is a good discussion on LT about what e books will do to libraries and their costs. http://www.librarything.com/thingology/2009/10/ebook-economics-are-libraries-screwed.php

    I recall you being very enthusiastic about your e book reader; does the argument hold water for you?

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  2. I'm not sure about this. Perhaps we'll see something similar to the special rental versions of movies, where libraries will get a special version early at an extra cost. I'm not convinced libraries are a significant enough market to drive up prices of ebooks for anything outside the academic market.

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