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What's with the really HIGH prices by some used book sellers?


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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 7:05:04 AM PDT
That was my thought bas well. This is obviously an attempt not to SELL the book, but to drive up the AVERAGE price for a book or inventory. A related puzzle to me is why the pprices of Amazon books flucuate like the stock market,i.e. up by .50 or down by $1.00 while in my cart??

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 8:17:39 AM PDT
Would that I were an attorney. As a layman I treat my cart as an offer to buy that is consummated only when I place my order.

That said, in my business when the representative and I agree on a fee, that is the fee at which the contract is drawn, our agreement by phone or in person being considered a verbal contract. Our word is our bond. Evidently Amazon do not consider that to be the case when buying from them. Possibly because one may delete an item from the cart, thus cancelling the order.

Let's hope that someone with knowledge of the law will answer your query.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 11:47:32 AM PDT
It's all about the sellers who use bots to manage their listings. The bots are programmed to raise and lower the price according to the demand and other criteria. What happens then is that the bots get in "bidding" wars with one another driving prices either up or down. Usually these sellers will have more than one listing or even another account, one with an inflated Bot-driven price and one with a normal price. The normal prices then seem to be incredible bargains so they sell really well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 1:28:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 5, 2012 1:30:21 PM PDT
It's quite simple really. NO contract has been made here until you have purchased the item. The way the Amazon system is set up, you haven't committed to the purchase until you have MADE the purchase. Amazon still lets us back out at that point, as long as the item isn't being prepped for shipment or hasn't shipped, but they lock the price in at that point regardless, since that purchase price is the one you formally agree to and arrange payment on. Otherwise, people could add items to their cart, wait several weeks, add or remove the items based on their price, and so on. It would be ridiculous to try to say that the price should be locked in when added to a cart where items can sit for ages and be added or removed at will, especially since the customer is not committing to anything by simply adding something to their cart, which in simple terms is a basic requirement to any contract (BOTH sides are committing to their end of the deal, like when you talk to a representative to agree on a fee, you are getting "this" for "this much money"). At least when you put a purchase through, your timeframe to "mess with" it is pretty limited. If you pre-order something, you may have a while to change your mind. Generally though, you have maybe a couple days or so to make any changes. In the name of good customer service, Amazon probably considers that more than fair.

What you're basically implying is that you want Amazon to get the very short end of the stick: commit to a price with no commitment from the customer to buy. An incomplete contract.

Anyway, that's a very simplified explanation. I hope it makes at least some sense.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 4:07:58 PM PDT
codyrobi says:
As a novice seller, I try to price where I can make a bit of money ,buy not huge amounts. But take the seller any_book, they really do have any book, claiming in new condition usually. Sometimes these out of print books have no "new" books around...they seem to have them all. I ponder all the time, are they a huge conglomerate or have the biggest storage facility filled with brand new out of print books, they claim millions of satisfied customers...but to their credit at least half a million people have bought books they sell at $100, which I sell at $20. I'm very curious/ yet hesitant about these heavy hitter sellers. But they must be doing something right...if they can make money off 1 cent books!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 5:02:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 5, 2012 5:05:24 PM PDT
AKN says:
I thought it was a way for an author to try to give the impression the book was in high demand but that's just a guess.

I do know of one book that is out of print that regularly gets customers
paying $150 and over for old copies. But that's a rare occurance.

When the prices go up and down, it's so that you can recieve the notice that the price has gone up or down when you look at your cart, that way putting the book title or item in front of your eyes again and hopefully producing a sale.
I have a lot of "saved for later" items and some of them go up or down a few cents every single time I look at my cart. That was also a guess.

Bots pricing things according to how in demand they are is a good guess also.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 5:09:51 PM PDT
Blake Fraina says:
You, Texas Rockhound, are 100% correct.

I am a self-published author who can't even give away copies of my book for free and yet on the extremely rare occasion when a new copy sells on Amazon, a "used" copy invariably appears for a ridiculous sum. For example, a copy of my book inexplicably sold last week and the next day a "used" copy became available for $115. $115!!! Now that the ranking has begun to drop (it normally floats around 2,000,000) the price of the "used" copy has mysteriously gone down to $56. And will continue to drop as the days go on.

In the meantime, you can buy a real used copy for about $6.00.

It's the bots. Definitely the bots.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2012 9:54:19 AM PDT
There are several reasons. One is that the listing is used to preserve the catalog page. If a catalog page is empty, it might be removed by Amazon. Maintaining a "live" listing prevents this, and preserves the page for future use by the vendor.

Also, there are several vendors who place generic listings at high prices on virtually every catalog page. If they happen to sell a copy, they "drop-ship" the order from another vendor.

Still another reason is to create the illusion of scarcity of a title. Let's say you have a copy of a book with dozens of copies listed for a penny or a dollar or whatever. A vendor might create a new catalog page for his copy and list it for a high price. Yes, this is against Amazon rules, but it is done anyway. The strategy can work by roping in a careless or overly-rushed buyer. It can also work because listings are maintained on several servers, so a catalog search can, on occasion, miss some pages.

There are also unique reasons, such as using very high priced listings as a way to maintain a list of "books to look for" at library sales and such.

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 10:41:13 AM PDT
Patrick says:
Have not read all the comments but it seems to me everyone is missing the boat on this one.
The reason sellers put stuff up at ridiculous high prices is in PROTEST !! I do it too.
Amazon drives prices down to the point where it no longer makes sense to even sell anything. The only one making money is Amazon.
The constant drive to lower prices slowly drives people out of business, lowers overall quality of products and service and ultimately is bad for consumers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 10:46:49 AM PDT
gilly8 says:
to C. Klauber: Well, sometimes the older books are collector's items, and that is usually stated. Others are not....
However, for me, the increasingly high prices for Kindle books are a true rip off.....which Amazon/ Kindle CAN control. I am sure they get a large kick back though the publishers who supposedly "set the price"....HA!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 10:47:29 AM PDT
@ Patrick; That's why I, for one is going KINDLE.. (smiles) No more SELLERS, Agencys, Bookstores nor bookpublishers. Yeaa, amazon :-)

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 11:38:46 AM PDT
Sometimes books really are worth the high price charged, meaning of course that people will gladly pay it. As an example, I remember when the Phantom of the Opera musical movie came out, it rekindled interest in Susan Kay's "Phantom" (among others, of course, but this is the one relevant to the discussion). Unfortunately, that book had been out of print for a while at that point, so there was no just going out and buying it new. Suddenly, even highly used copies were fetching $150 or more on a regular basis. It was definitely a good time to happen to own that particular somewhat obscure (well known in devoted phan circles, but until then not regularly heard of outside of them) rewrite of a classic. Yes, it was insane, but it was the value supply and demand set for those several months or so. Of course, after a fairly short while, the rights holder yielded and authorized a reprinting, I have no doubt motivated largely by the interest in the book being at such a high level. Now, it's still priced slightly high for a paperback, but at $16 or so for a new copy, it is certainly far more reasonable than $100+ for a really worn used one, and the used copies of course have seen a corresponding drop in asking price.

So, believe it or not, sometimes those really high prices are the actual prices that supply and demand dictates. This is quite rare, but it does happen, with collectors books and/or rare out of print ones that are desired.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 11:41:53 AM PDT
Oh yes, I'm sure Amazon can control the prices on Kindle books and are just lying about it. That's why all those e-books were yanked from the Kindle store when the publishers withdrew the rights from Amazon to sell the digital versions when Amazon tried to name their own lower selling price. Having to do things legally is such a pain sometimes.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 6:03:19 PM PDT
Patrick, if one does not offer books for sale on Amazon, why on earth are the prices listed of any interest beyond amusement or bafflement?

Doesn't anyone use a search engine to locate a book and then check out the shops with cheaper prices, turning to Amazon only if it has the cheapest price for the book in the condition you're willing to accept?

I'm obviously missing something; for after reading the post about prices being set by algorithm, I don't understand why buyers continue to post. Sellers are another matter.

Perhaps someone will explain things to me. There are days when I am not smart enough to get out of the rain. This must be one of them.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 6:39:40 AM PDT
pinky says:
I have noticed the high prices on books that are out of print and unavailable elsewhere. I collect art books; I often have a bunch saved to buy later. I used to procrastinate about buying sometimes, then I saw books that I had wanted to buy go out of print and they weren't to be had anywhere...ebay, alibris, overstock, nextag, bestprice, etc. It's the law of supply and demand...I think there are people who price high waiting for this scenario. I also did wonder if there were some triggers on pricing the seller could set, like setting a max price based on book availability? Amazon itself starts to raise a book price as stock goes down.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 2:55:36 PM PDT
greymouse says:
I've just noticed copies of my most recent title priced from $115 to $888--PLUS SHIPPING. The list price, new, is only $7.99. I'm thinking there must be some sort of money laundering or tax write-off scheme involved. Or maybe occasional impulse buys by Arab oil sheikhs?

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 5:32:43 PM PDT
richard says:
.
... tax write off sounds the most feasible ...

I recently confronted a seller with their extraordinary price on an ordinary item. They did not at first respond. When I told them that I was intending to bring this issue it up with Amazon directly, they then claimed it was an entry error in a very terse email. The listing disappeared within 5 minutes ... peculiar.

Indeed ... something is up.
.

Posted on Jun 11, 2012 9:25:41 AM PDT
Cleosmom says:
What is up..is the high prices that amazon charges to sell things online. In order to make any profit, you're going to have to sell it close to list price, and then add shipping costs.

Sellers make little profit on items sold. Amazon makes billions. Please support your local used bookstores and book stores. Oftentimes they belong to reading groups and other websites where they can get you ALMOST any book printed, for a very reasonable cost.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 5:44:55 PM PDT
L. Dixon says:
I was wondering the same thing myself while looking for a Calliope magazine, I found them priced from $18.00 - $24.00 in some cases. Others could be picked up for $2.99. It's not like their the only resource on history. I didn't get it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2012 12:24:08 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 12, 2012 12:28:14 AM PDT
F. Balch says:
David, try putting the book in your shopping cart. I did this for a stupid book about English Gypsy Carvans (talk about your esoteric knowledge). It started out at >$400, I bought 6 months later at about $50.

Posted on Jun 12, 2012 6:38:32 AM PDT
Not to mention the Kindle price for this one at $23.62!! With a NEW hardcover listed at $8.98. Ridiculous !!

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 12:49:00 PM PDT
A. Novel says:
I think these books are listed by contractors, who then sell them to the US armed forces at those ridiculously high prices. Not wonder why the Iraq and APAK wars have costed so many billions.

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 9:22:41 PM PDT
LaJuana says:
http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=358 This is the explanation posted back in October. Makes sense.

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 9:53:15 PM PDT
richard says:
This explains the case where the price of two or more books is snow-balling algorithmically.

How about the case where it is but one book of substantially inflated price among others of comparatively insignificant price?
What is the operative principle for the price determination of such a single book?

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 7:22:58 AM PDT
This phenomena occurs for all sorts of goods priced on Amazon. Occasionally it is an error. There might be a few Dutch auctions going on. Most often it is a scam. They generally aren't trying to scam buyers. They are trying to scam insurance companies, lenders, and like by submitting these particular listings to substantiate inflated prices for insured losses or other valuations, sometimes for clients.
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Discussion in:  Textbook Buyback forum
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