Gray Frank, a founder and former owner of Booksmith in San Francisco, has a major Letter to the Editor in the New York Times on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, “Real and False Discounts”. He says that books are one of the few mass-produced commodities with prices printed on the product, a fact which enabled Amazon and Jeff Bezos to focus on books two decades ago when forming Amazon as a “discount” online store.
He also describes a furtive effort among booksellers (the American Booksellers Association ) to implement net pricing, to protect the effectiveness of physical stores.
I don’t recall seeing prices printed on many books that I order recently, and they are not printed on my own “Do Ask, Do Tell” series. Paperbacks seem to have prices a lot of the time.
I can remember a similar concept with phonograph records, and later compact discs, for music. Back in the early 1960s, a standard list price for an LP record was $4.98 mono and $5.98 stereo, with discounts often been 20-30% in “discount stores”. Budget labels were $1.98 and $2.98. In the mid 1980s, classical compact discs often started with a list price of $15.99. Back around 1962, a friend said, "Bill, why don't you pay $4.98 for a classical record like most people?" I didn't have to.