Bookplate Demand Up; Suppliers Weary

Holy cow, people. We love you and everything — really, we do. But what’s happening with the demand for signed bookplates?

When we first offered to send a free bookplate to anyone who asked, we were surprised that any people would want them at all. In the beginning, there were a few hundred requests a week. You would input your mailing information into this form, which we’d then download into an Excel spreadsheet and format to be printed as labels. Then I’d sign a big stack of bookplates, ship them off to Levitt in Chicago, he’d sign them and send them back to me, and then my assistant Nicole (applause!) would take them down to HarperCollins and stuff the envelopes.

Sometimes it took us a while but we managed to keep up with demand.

These days, we aren’t doing so well. In November alone, we had 5,000 requests for bookplates. As problems go, this is obviously a great one: we are thrilled that so many people would bother to ask. But if you asked for a bookplate and haven’t received it yet, please hang in there. At least neither of us has a name this long to sign.


seamusmccauley

Economists in 'giving away things that people value results in potentially infinite demand' shocker!

Unsigned Freakonomics on eBay - perhaps ten dollars. Signed Freaknomics on eBay - something in the region of $75 - $90. You're offering to mail people de facto cheques for sixty dollars, at a cost to them of nothing. I'm amazed you only got 5,000 requests in November. Logically there's a tragedy of the commons waiting to happen because signed copies get less valuable as they get less rare, but that's shouldn't affect demand yet - right now, demand should still be infinite.

Jun Okumura

Stephen J. Dubner=14 letters
Mike Krzyzewski=14 letters

No excuses, my man.

Jun Okumura

seamusmccauley:

Actually, nobody is going to buy a signed Freakonomics off eBay because you can get it form the source at no extra cost. THe same thing happened when they ended Prohibition, will happen when they legalize marijuana.

What does it do for the authors? Something money can't buy: a personal connection wth all the people who've bought the book. And the marginal utility of money surely must have decreased for the authors, what with royalties from every other person on this planet (including me) buying a copy. (Not that they don't deserve every penny.) It's like winning a big pot, and buying drinks for everyone in the poker game.

seamusmccauley

Jun - "Actually, nobody is going to buy a signed Freakonomics off eBay because you can get it from the source at no extra cost" assumes everyone knows of this kind offer. That signed copies are for sale on eBay at a mark-up demonstrates that some people do not know this. If I run "signed Freakonomics" through Google, the first result is an eBay auction (claiming that the signed book is "rare"); the second my friend Tim auctioning off the first ever signed copy for charity at his website; only on the second page of search results does the signed bookplate offer from this blog come up. So I agree that you're right in theory, but that in this real-world example information inequalities make the bookplates valuable.

ben

Stephen -- Is the logic of this program to build "brand loyalty" with the book? As a soon-to-be published author, I am thinking about offering the same kind of deal, but it is money out of my pocket to make it happen.

Jun Okumura

seamusmccauley:
Spoken like a true economist, and a Freakonomically data-oriented one at that.

Nice blog, by the way.

Princess Leia

"oh yeah--they'll even sign it... well actually, it's a bookplate... just go to the website and email a request for one... oh sure, totally they'll do it."

:-)

Kath

Very considerate of you to advise us of the delay :)

Thanks!

seamusmccauley

Economists in 'giving away things that people value results in potentially infinite demand' shocker!

Unsigned Freakonomics on eBay - perhaps ten dollars. Signed Freaknomics on eBay - something in the region of $75 - $90. You're offering to mail people de facto cheques for sixty dollars, at a cost to them of nothing. I'm amazed you only got 5,000 requests in November. Logically there's a tragedy of the commons waiting to happen because signed copies get less valuable as they get less rare, but that's shouldn't affect demand yet - right now, demand should still be infinite.

Jun Okumura

Stephen J. Dubner=14 letters
Mike Krzyzewski=14 letters

No excuses, my man.

Jun Okumura

seamusmccauley:

Actually, nobody is going to buy a signed Freakonomics off eBay because you can get it form the source at no extra cost. THe same thing happened when they ended Prohibition, will happen when they legalize marijuana.

What does it do for the authors? Something money can't buy: a personal connection wth all the people who've bought the book. And the marginal utility of money surely must have decreased for the authors, what with royalties from every other person on this planet (including me) buying a copy. (Not that they don't deserve every penny.) It's like winning a big pot, and buying drinks for everyone in the poker game.

seamusmccauley

Jun - "Actually, nobody is going to buy a signed Freakonomics off eBay because you can get it from the source at no extra cost" assumes everyone knows of this kind offer. That signed copies are for sale on eBay at a mark-up demonstrates that some people do not know this. If I run "signed Freakonomics" through Google, the first result is an eBay auction (claiming that the signed book is "rare"); the second my friend Tim auctioning off the first ever signed copy for charity at his website; only on the second page of search results does the signed bookplate offer from this blog come up. So I agree that you're right in theory, but that in this real-world example information inequalities make the bookplates valuable.

ben

Stephen -- Is the logic of this program to build "brand loyalty" with the book? As a soon-to-be published author, I am thinking about offering the same kind of deal, but it is money out of my pocket to make it happen.

Jun Okumura

seamusmccauley:
Spoken like a true economist, and a Freakonomically data-oriented one at that.

Nice blog, by the way.

Princess Leia

"oh yeah--they'll even sign it... well actually, it's a bookplate... just go to the website and email a request for one... oh sure, totally they'll do it."

:-)

Kath

Very considerate of you to advise us of the delay :)

Thanks!