What Westworld teaches us about pricing

Who doesn't love Westworld? Turns out artificial intelligence is a real thing right now. And I think it's more than just wanting something new to watch on television after the election. 

So of course, being an AI company, we watched Westworld. No spoilers here, so fear not if you haven't already watched it. And it taught us something about pricing. 

In the opening credits you may have noticed it is based on the book by Michael Crichton (of Jurassic Park fame). So when the final credits rolled, I headed over to Amazon to buy the book and see if perhaps I could peel back the onion one or two more layers.

Had I found the center of the maze? I wasn't sure. There's a lot more in A Song of Ice and Fire than made it on screen into Game of Thrones. Maybe Westworld the book would explain it. 

And perhaps it would. But I'm not finding out anytime soon: it costs $499.95. 

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Go see for yourself here. Maybe it's cheaper now–or more expensive?

What is even more staggering is that the seller is asking five hundred dollars for a mass market paperback. Those are the books you see in the supermarket checkout line that are not only is the cheapest possible book to print, but also virtually self destruct after one person reads them (perhaps by design?). They have virtually no collectible value. Oh, and they are only ever made in the millions. Your aunt might have one sitting in her attic, under something. (Go find it. It's exactly like finding $500 in your aunt's attic.)

Sellers are asking $550 for the regular paperback (in industry parlance, "trade paperback"). Also, virtually no collectible value. Made in the tens or hundreds of thousands. 

The lessons Westworld teaches us–about pricing

Demand is what matters. This book is rare, at least, at places where it can be bought. Tens of millions of people just spent 10+ hours of their lives engrossed in a show based on it. The fact that it cost less than $1 to make is irrelevant. 

Of course, like Pepsi Perfect, and Nike Mags, both limited edition runs of Back to the Future memorabilia, it's sometimes hard to predict what will be in huge demand before it is in huge demand, and what price is the right price.

But reacting to a spike in demand–we don't need Dolores to figure that out. We already built the AI for that. 

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