Why are Amazon used-book vendors overpricing this book?
January 29, 2013 5:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to understand the logic of wildly overpriced used books on Amazon.

I was looking at the Amazon page for my recently published book when I noticed that there were several used copies available at prices ranging from more than double to almost five times the listed cover price for a new copy. (here's a self-linky link to what I'm talking about).

What's the logic behind these wildly inflated prices? As I believe these are copies of the books I gave away on Goodreads, they may be autographed but aren't labeled as such. Also, my autograph has no value. So why sell the book at so much above market price? Does it mean anything that three of the copies are in Florida? What's the scam?
posted by Bookhouse to Work & Money (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bots?

So why sell the book at so much above market price?

Why not, if there are suckers in the marketplace.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:35 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Probably bots. There was some media coverage about this within the past year.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 5:37 PM on January 29, 2013


brookebooks is also selling a "new" copy of your book for the same price as a "very good", which is odd.
posted by smackfu at 5:41 PM on January 29, 2013


Most likely, nobody actually has the item. They're listing a price based on acquiring it from somebody else. So they're finding somebody else's price and adding a little margin in there.

The thing is, it's an automated process. So if every seller in the market is a drop-shipment bot, they're going to get into a price escalation war as all of the bots use each other to figure out what the market price + margin should be.
posted by zjacreman at 5:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Previously, previouslier
posted by RogerB at 6:21 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone. Should have searched better.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:37 PM on January 29, 2013


I'll throw in my favorite example of an amazon bot price war: Amazon’s $23,698,655.93 book about flies
posted by rockindata at 7:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh, except aloysius on the mixing boards beat me to it. oops. Mike gets two different links making unexpected spikes in his analytics.
posted by rockindata at 7:02 PM on January 29, 2013


The guys on the used listing are "mega-sellers" well-known for sky-balling prices. (When they are not way undervaluing items. It's a real PITA.) I suspect that at one time, Amazon had sold out, so prices leapt. Amazon has them back in stock, and the used sellers' bots never got the message due to being set up to compete only with sellers also selling used.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:39 PM on January 29, 2013


How about this book for $999,999,999? (Used - "good" condition.)
posted by John Cohen at 9:57 PM on January 29, 2013


($1,000,000,002.99 with shipping.)
posted by John Cohen at 9:59 PM on January 29, 2013


I think some people are rich enough and some people are desperate enough to find some point at which an equilibrium is met... and the item is actually bought. Miraculous? Probably. lol

Also, demand : supply

Higher the demand and lower the supply, the more people can be manipulated into paying more :(

Maybe some people want to package less often, so they'd rather take their chances with a seemingly weird/different/odd idea?

Who knows!

I hope no one gets ripped off by absurdities though... I'm sure Amazon would be more than glad to revoke charges, or however that should be worded. I've had great experiences with them, personally.
posted by JamesBlakeAV at 12:52 AM on January 30, 2013


But why would a new book, say Stalin's Ghosts: Gothic Themes in Early Soviet Literature, be priced by Amazon at a ridiculous amount, in this case $5,398.35? (The publisher's page for the book gives the price as $73.95, €56.45, or £45.00.)
posted by languagehat at 6:16 AM on January 30, 2013


But why would a new book, say Stalin's Ghosts: Gothic Themes in Early Soviet Literature, be priced by Amazon at a ridiculous amount, in this case $5,398.35?

Doesn't seem to be the case here, but at another company I occasionally saw books loaded with a price that turned out to be part of the ISBN. Usually because of a glitch in an automated electronic catalog loading process.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:50 AM on January 30, 2013


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