When I saw this ad on the NYT website, I thought it had to be some kind of satire. But I clicked through and it looks legit. Here's where it goes. Am I missing the joke?
One of my pet peeves is the way book publishers appear to ignore price elasticity when they decide what to charge for e-books. (See my articles here and here.) For my Twitter feed, I've taken to combing Amazon's monthly list of heavily discounted Kindle editions and posting a couple of titles especially likely to interest people who follow me on Twitter. Through this process, I noticed that HarperCollins had run a sale on Neal Stephenson's Anathem (big thumbs up, but it's back to full price.) So I asked if they'd also run a special on The Substance of Style. They immediately said yes, and the Kindle edition is now on sale for $2.99--for one week. Here's the link.
UPDATE: The Nook version is also on sale for $2.99. Here's that link.
It certainly looks like it, as I discuss in my latest Bloomberg View column. Here's the opening:
When I saw that Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) is negotiating to buy an idled Pennsylvania oil refinery in hopes of saving money on its fuel bill, I had a flashback to July 7, 1981.
Back then, I was an intern in the now-defunct Philadelphia bureau of the Wall Street Journal, and DuPont Co. had just announced its agreement to buy Conoco Inc. for about $7 billion in cash and stock. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in history.
Our little bureau mobilized to cover the story and, as the least knowledgeable of the crew, I was given the simplest job: Call a bunch of Wall Street analysts and ask them what they thought. It was an especially easy assignment, because they all said the same thing. Buying an oil company was a clever idea, they told me. It would give DuPont (DD) a reliable supply of oil for its petrochemicals and protect the company from price increases.
The market disagreed -- DuPont's stock price went down on the news -- and the conventional wisdom soon changed. (DuPont finally spun off its Conoco division in 1999.) But in those early hours, everybody I talked to thought the merger was a smart move. And, because I was a naive intern, I believed them.
Vertical integration fools a lot of people.