September 15, 2009 | Arabic

Pimsleur Pricing and a Library Snafu

Good news: Pimsleur prices are dropping. Bad news: I learn about a bad mistake at the library.

Today I received an e-mail from a charming and helpful man, Kelly, at Simon & Schuster, which is the publisher of Pimsleur products. The e-mail came in response to my questions about Pimsleur prices, which seemed to have been dropping dramatically and inexplicably.

Kelly confirmed that there had indeed been a significant price drop. “Many of our CD resellers are now able to sell our courses at a fraction of the $345 list price,” he wrote. “We actually routinely see our CD courses for $120 shipped brand new on Amazon. With digital downloads slowly become a bigger part of our sales, we are also working on lowering those price points across the board.”

That’s good news for language learners everywhere.

Now, this was actually the second message I received from Kelly today. The first message did not contain such good news. He was responding to concerns I had expressed regarding the quality of Pimsleur Eastern Arabic offerings, Level I. The lessons were so inferior in so many ways to what I had experienced with the Russian Pimsleur series that I was perplexed.

Arabic Shelf at the Library: I Got What I Paid For

Kelly quickly figured out the problem. I had checked my set of lessons out of the New York Public Library, and apparently, Kelly said, that version was old—recorded “in the early stages of Pimsleur almost 20 years ago.” He added that it should not be on the market.

The reality is, it wasn’t. It was at the library. An example of: you get what you pay for. Kelly said library sales are handled by the company Recorded Books, which would be contacting the library immediately to fix the problem. He added that there is a “completely different and updated course available these days.”

So, that’s what I need. But I don’t want to buy it.

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