From: Lamezia Terme (Italy)
I'm confused? I paid $99, which was full price and included the 3 hardbound books...
It's been a long time, I might be confused myself but I'm pretty sure that the price was well over $100 when I bought it shortly after release. One of the major issues was shipping for the hardcover books (which I didn't want in the first place, but they were a mandatory purchase), which could add a huge amount to the total price, depending on where you had them shipped to.
Yes, I had the same experience: shipping was a killer but buying the three hard cover books was mandatory (IIRC you could even add to the order a paper copy of the humongous map). IIRC I, too, spent about 150 Euro.
Anyway I had no qualms in ordering the books: they looked fantastic and gave to the whole project an aura of real quality (the books, in all fairness, are fantastic: sometimes I still look at them and sigh). The game actually arrived in the mail while I was away in Paris for a culinary tour, and I couldn't wait to return home and play it! From Paris!
It could be said that, when this sad story will be finished and chronicled, the turning point was the day when buying the books was no more mandatory: all of sudden the PDFs were enough (notice how you could still order the books, so there was no shortage of them). Dropping the physical books was, IMHO, the moment when Matrix symbolically admitted that the whole project was in trouble.
"Yes darling, I served in the Navy for eight years. I was a cook..."
"Oh dad... so you were a God-damned cook?"
(My 10 years old daughter after watching "The Hunt for Red October")