Vending Machine Sells Books For Whatever Price You Want

from the i'll-buy-that-for-a-dollar dept

While we've seen pay-what-you-want models work quite well for digital goods, it's still uncertain as to whether the model works for tangible goods where the marginal cost of each sold item does not approach zero. However, that doesn't mean people shouldn't try. A Brazilian company launched a line of vending machines that sell books without a set price, allowing customers to decide what they want to pay for the book. That said, it's not entirely pay what you want, since the machines require that customers put a minimum of a 2 BRL note (equivalent to about $1.17 USD) to get a book.

Initial reports claim that "sales at the promotional machines had already more than doubled within just over a month after the program’s launch, and most purchases are indeed paid with a BRL 2 note." While this sounds promising, there's no mention of how much more the books were priced before the new model was implemented, nor the profit margin beforehand. Furthermore, in looking at the vending machine, it's not apparent that customers are given any real reason why they should pay more than the minimum for the book. The books are just placed in a normal looking vending machine -- customers can't leaf through the book or even look at the back cover until after they've bought the book (and decided what to pay for it). This seems like a lost opportunity. Especially in a pay-what-you-want situation, it's still about giving customers a reason to pay more.
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Filed Under: books, pay what you want, vending machine


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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Feb 2012 @ 1:08am

    The article says they normally run 5 BRL.

    They could do more, but part of the problem looking at this from the outside is lacking the entire frame of reference to what kind of books these are.

    Are they just Wikipedia scrapes like some Kindle books?
    Are they short pulp chapters?

    This would change what people would think the value is, but failing to connect with the consumer means this machine will more often than not just get 2 BRL notes and nothing more.

    If it was a serialized book, and there was a note that said here is chapter 1, and next to it was chapter 2... and you really liked chapter 1 a note spelling out how much the author gets after they collect their printing fee of X might encourage people to support the authors they enjoyed.

    It is the start of an interesting idea, but so many factors they don't cover.

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