Dynamic Pricing and The Holy Books
Amazon is famous for changing prices frequently to test the demand for products or undercut a competitor on hot items like Beats headphones or Razor electric scooters.
According to a price-tracking site called camelcamelcamel.com, Amazon has changed the price of the King James Version of the Bible over 100 times since May of 2010. What on earth?
In the past five years, it’s been listed as low as $8.99 and as high as $16.99. Amazon spokesman Scott Stanzel wouldn’t dish on the exact process that goes into determining when and how a item’s price changes, but Amazon does change prices on up to 80 million items a day. So, the Bible’s not exactly unique in having its rate adjustments, but some of the circumstances around it all are a little interesting.
The shifts in pricing are presumably automated, as Amazon’s computer systems react to rising or falling consumer demand and other factors. But the fact that such a standard, age-old item as the Bible can change in price so frequently and dramatically suggests strongly that dynamic pricing affects almost anything a consumer can buy online.
The e-commerce giant is apparently using dynamic pricing on other holy books beyond the Bible. Pricing data show that Amazon’s shifts affect the most-Googled Koran, Torah, and to a lesser extent, Bhagavad Gita, on its site.
Stanzel declined to comment on whether Amazon’s prices change in response to real life events. But it’s interesting that the single largest price shift for the Bible happened around the same time as the world was predicted to end in December 2012. And there was a steady increase in its price when The History Channel’s miniseries “The Bible” originally aired in the US in March 2013. Here’s how popular Google searches for the Bible and God were over the same period: