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Customer Discussions > Textbook Buyback forum

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

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Showing 1-25 of 329 posts in this discussion
Posted on Aug 31, 2015 2:58:20 AM PDT
D. Marois says:
I blame Amazon for this. They have draconian commenting rules yet they keep doing business with these ridiculous resellers. Until I read this thread I thought the worst I had seen was an acoustic guitar selling for 5 times what I could buy if for locally - PLUS a shipping charge of $100+! Now I realize that was nothing special! :-) I guess it really is buyer beware!! I often wonder if some people do buy these products. Maybe rich people who REALLY want something and can't find it anywhere else.

Posted on Aug 30, 2015 5:07:07 AM PDT
Lake says:
This phenomenon is not restricted to books and toys. I wonder about the use of Amazon for laundering money. As long as a seller does a reasonable volume of legitimate sales, he can move money around with a few of these strange postings. If someone other than the intended buyer contacts him about the item, he can just say "it's out of stock." A $23 million dollar book will attract attention. But a $20 light bulb sold to a select buyer for $250 can fly under the radar. I'm not speaking from experience. I've never bought one of these oddly priced items nor sold anything on Amazon. But it's plausible that these listings are intended to mask illegitimate transactions.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2015 11:43:45 PM PDT
Tim says:
Yes I agree that some of the midrange pricing is because of that, but a large percentage of decent 1950-1980 non-fiction books with more than 10 sellers have prices that are way above ANY price that book EVER could have sold for. Not a small percentage, we're talking 20-25% of all book listings for older non-fiction books with a significant amount of sellers (10 and up) has at least one, usually multiple listings, that are well beyond any price the book could ever have sold for.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2015 11:38:04 PM PDT
Tim says:
That's great for the buyer, but this is a seller's forum and I can list 250 books on ebay and maybe....maybe sell 5 over the next 2 weeks or I can increase that price by 20% or more...list on amazon and sell a minimum of 30 of those books over the same time frame. For a bookseller ebay isn't even in the same league as amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2015 11:33:24 PM PDT
Tim says:
If you listed a book for 30.00 and sold it Amazon would get 5.85, then even if it weighed say 4lbs....which is heavy, even for a textbook, you would receive approx.. 19.85 for the book. Amazon does charge an extremely high commision for books, but they also can sell upwards of 20 times the books any other site can. It is not the place to sell your old college textbooks I'll give you that, it is the place to build a large online bookstore.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2015 11:15:34 PM PDT
Tim says:
I agree wholeheartedly, but I see seller's w/ 15,000 feedback responses in the last 12 months and every single book they are selling is overpriced, and 95% of their feedback is about's a good example....

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2015 6:09:24 AM PDT
Money laundering or possibly way of I raising the value of one's inventory for raising capital ( ie as potential security against a loan). Btw this is all guesswork, but it's intriguing all the same

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2015 6:37:08 AM PST
J. Hamlet says:
I agree with your thoughts on this topic. As a lot of us have noted, this outrageous overpricing is going on and it has nothing to do with a free market. let's just ask ourselves a simple question - when someone hits 'buy' an amount of money is transferred from one person's account to a seller's account. A transaction then goes on (or does it?) but there is no audit trail to show what actually got sent where (or not). It's just another case of the internet being used in a way Amazon or other on-line shops never intended it to be used.

Posted on Feb 24, 2015 6:17:40 AM PST
Nick says:
I've been pondering this for some time too! I've noticed a lot of tech being sold with 500% markup of the price when new and listing it as refurbished.. these companies seem to have thousands of products, at a glance I'd say they are all outrageously priced. I do wonder whether these shops are simply 'fronts' to fake companies for someone who owns a tiny shed somewhere to prove to the tax man his £millions are coming from a legitimate source and not drugs/other illegal trade - as someone else suggested, is this in-your-face money laundering?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2015 11:25:46 AM PST
saguaro says:
i couldn't agree more "little life mystery i would love to solve". the time traveler's wife, selling for $999 also. what in the world? i think you are onto something about making inventory seem more valuable or something.

Posted on Feb 17, 2015 5:58:38 PM PST
Chad says:
How can the amazon fees be higher than the selling price? I sold a book for $2.54 and the Fees were $2.72... I was already in the hole before shipping. I emailed them and they have no answer.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2014 1:48:01 PM PST
I agree with you. I have seen so many instances of simple, common items going for outrageous prices listed right with the same item going for a reasonable price. Just now (and what got me curious about whether or not it's a front for something else), there's a book/toy for kids called "Paper Fashions". I was looking at getting it for my daughter for Christmas. They have several listed for $6-$9 and then there's one going for $249 dollars...with one offer on it too! It's listed as "hardcover" yet I cannot find any hardcover editions anywhere else (they are all spiral-bound).

Posted on Nov 20, 2014 5:28:54 PM PST
I BELIEVE I HAVE THE ANSWER(S) !! Firstly, entering the item at a ridiculous price is merely a means of creating an inventory on Amazon. The seller KNOWS it will never sell at the rate posted ( I just looked at a book listed at over $3000.00 where there was another copy going for $10.00) BUT...
1. Some time ago I heard of a Harvard grad who had written a brilliant program which was able to find out when someone was looking for a particular book. This seller NEVER had her own inventory but was able to complete a sale from other people's inventories. I recall hearing that she was creating a fortune without actually ever lifting a finger as the computer program did all the work. I wish I could recall where I read this as this 'explanation' doesn't actually fully explain the operation but if it did, and I knew how to do it I wouldn't be telling you now , would I ?

2. You will note that it is generally these college textbook seller companies that is overpricing.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2014 6:25:52 PM PST
here is how it probably works for most of them - The bookseller has a low level worker whose job it is list a book for a default high price, since they are not qualified to make that decision. The automatic repricer program looks at the competing sellers and adjusts the price to match a few hours later. If there are only a few sellers, the autopricer keeps creeping up to the upper limit specified by the seller, or whatever settings they choose, whether they are reasonable, or not.

Posted on Oct 31, 2014 10:44:14 PM PDT
Misty Weare says:
This site has a very good explanation of why we're seeing these obnoxious prices for used books:

Posted on Oct 10, 2014 11:51:17 PM PDT
As a former seller and business owner, here is the down low on that. A very high priced item will not sell, and at the end of the year my inventory value exceeded my profit, leading to a bigger tax break. Sometimes someone will buy it, however rarely. Also, depending on what state the seller is from if there items in stock value exceed profit for a physical year there are no tax's. The rules on this vary from state to state and size of business. Individual sellers can use non sold items as a tax write off also, depending on there income.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2014 5:36:48 AM PDT
J. Hamlet says:
I don't think this issue of selling books for $4,000 is about supply and demand. At that price the demand is zero - and it's not about cancelling orders if someone makes a mistake and hits the wrong button. Some people are suggesting it is a way of money laundering and that looks a plausible hypothesis.

Posted on Sep 3, 2014 8:04:00 PM PDT
Repricing programs are often set like the following: if there are no competing offers it reprices to the sellers maximum price allowable in the repricing program, so two sellers selling an item for $10 and seller A sells out the repricing program for seller B reprices the inventory to $999, when seller A gets more inventory relisted at $10 the repricing program looks at the percentage drop and since it is a huge percentage it ignores and does not reprice. If seller B has hundreds or even thousands of items listed they never get around to manually looking for these exceptions and fixing them. I seriously doubt any seller is trying to scam someone by hoping they will accidentally buy one of these overpriced items. The buyer can simply cancel the order before its shipped, or return the item for a refund and the seller is either out all the shipping charges or ends up with negative feedback which will cost them much more in lost sales in the future.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2014 9:14:29 AM PDT
If someone did make this sort of an error, it is easy enough to cancel the purchase - esp before it has shipped. It would be really difficult for Amazon to set an upper limit price on anything. After all, who knows what some person is willing to pay for a given book. People pay $50,000 for a baseball card. The real secret of controlling the price of anything is to "just say no." Ultimately, if literally no one is buying xyz merchandise for a long enough period of time, the price goes down. No one likes to carry inventory indefinitely and, in addition, pay to have it listed. Sellers sometimes get inflated prices about what something is worth - anything, not just books - particularly if they have no background or expertise in the field. these folks somehow concoct notions about what something is worth where those ideas have no basis in reality. It happens all the time in real estate. It is only when the sellers realize that no one will buy the book (or whatever they are trying to sell) at the asking price, that the person eventually comes down on the price. They get a dose of reality. You need only simply wait it out. When it comes to books, eventually, you will get what you want at a reasonable price - read something else in the meanwhile. There are no shortage of books for sale.

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 6:45:27 AM PDT
J. Hamlet says:
My point on the issue is this: is it ethical to allow sellers to price books at several thousand pounds hoping some unsuspecting (probably elderly computer novice) buyer will accidently click on the wrong button? I suspect they would answer that they are not concerned about ethics so long as no-one is breaking the law, and Amazon is a free market environment. As someone who has authored and published books for sale on Amazon I find it incredible that Amazon is allowing its platform to be used for what can only be described as predatory selling.

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 12:44:10 PM PDT
plodding says:
I thought maybe they were selling drugs or money laundering???

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2014 3:35:21 PM PDT
Disgusting! Scammers who prey on the elderly - or anyone for that matter - should be shot. It is wise for everyone to remember an old Russian saying: "The only free cheese is in the mouse trap"

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2014 3:27:33 PM PDT
buyers are simply venting and commiserating (spelling?) with one another. I for one, wish to encourage all buyers to stand your ground. Do NOT let your desire for a particular book over-rule common sense. READ SOMETHING ELSE for now and come back later when likely the price will have come down to a more reasonable level. The more buyers give into this sort of thing, the worse it will get. Now I am all for sellers making a reasonable profit. I don't begrudge them such. I am simply reminding everyone to try to practice what the Buddhists preach (I am not a Buddhist, BTW) and try to free yourself of unreasonable desires. There are millions of books for sale - read some other book for now and wait for your seller to regain his or her sanity.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2014 3:20:49 PM PDT
Then you should list your books in several places - not just on Amazon. If I want a book which is listed on Amazon and I think the price is too high, I look around for it elsewhere -, ebay, google search etc. If I find it elsewhere at a price I want, then I will buy the book. If not i.e. Amazon is the ONLY place wherein the book is sold AND also the price is too high, I simply do not buy the book. I will read something else in the interim - eventually the market will prevail and the book will come down in price. There are literally millions of books to read - there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be pressured into buying something which is selling for more than it is objectively worth. My advise to buyers is to stand your ground. Don't be pressured into paying more for a book than it is worth. Read something else and come back to the Amazon page later. Sooner or later the seller will get tired of carrying the book in inventory and will sell it at a more reasonable price.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2014 2:37:52 PM PDT
I did so and also made an offer to buy the book at a reasonable price - probably more than the book was actually worth, even. I got a snide remake back from the seller who advised me that "Sorry, I have to make a living." Unless he (stupidly) paid a high price for this particular book, my guess is that he got it used at some garage or book sale for less than a few bucks. He is asking several hundred for the book - others are available for much less although all of the sellers are - in my opinion - overcharging for the book. n. I offered $18 plus shipping - probably would have gone to $20 but that is it. If he only paid a few dollars - if that for the book - as I suspect is the case based on this particular book - why would he prefer to let it just sit in inventory. If he paid $2 for the book at a garage sale - selling it for $20 would represent a huge profit. The bottom line is that buyers must simply "just say no" to the requested price. Sooner or later, the sellers will get tired of carrying the book in inventory and eventually the price will drop. The less you want something and the more you are willing to read something else in the meanwhile, the better off you will be. Sooner or later someone will sell the book for what you wish to pay. Sort of like what the Buddhists are always preaching - the less desire for worldly goods you have, the better off (and more powerful) you will be. This theory applies to used books and sellers with grandiose ideas of their worth, as well.
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Discussion in:  Textbook Buyback forum
Participants:  192
Total posts:  329
Initial post:  Oct 20, 2011
Latest post:  2 days ago

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