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Why do some sellers list ordinary books for truly exorbitant amounts?


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Showing 1-25 of 87 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 1, 2012 12:39:12 PM PST
T. McCormick says:
In the discussion about penny book sales, someone asked the opposite question: Why do some sellers list ordinary books for truly exorbitant amounts? I purchase a lot of travel books and am amazed at the prices sometimes (rarely it must be conceded) asked for outdated and apparently useless guidebooks and maps, often in the thousands of dollars, when the same item is often listed at a reasonable price. I imagine nefarious schemes such as money laundering or extortion payoffs.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 1:25:44 PM PST
Sometimes Amazon automatically assigns a value to the book. That value is based on the number of similar items available and demand factor. (What people have searched for in the past few days.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 3:01:27 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2012 3:04:24 PM PST
Actually, Amazon never "assigns" a selling price to a third-party seller's items. The problem is with the way that some of the third-party sellers determine their pricing on their listings. They have an automatic system in place that reads a certain "price value" based on the other listed prices, and adds on a certain percentage, when automatically adjusting their asking price on their listing. The problem is, when multiple sellers of the item use this automatic computerized system on a listing, their system automatically reads each other's prices as legitimate listing values, and so they drive each other's prices upwards, through a series of constant adjustments. I don't know that I explained it so well, but there was a story on this not long ago, when some plain book (I think it had to do with fish, but I'm not certain) reached an astronomical asking price among some of the sellers, prompting an unofficial "investigation" by the curious. Apparently, they don't have a "maximum value" set into the programming, so it can easily get insanely high very fast.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 10:10:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2012 10:11:56 PM PST
Eden Allen says:
I have approached several book sellers on this issue because they are selling MY Book at this extremely high prices and NEITHER of us is getting any sales. It is confusing for the consumer also I can imagine. None of the sellers has any Desire to fix the problem and I just get frustrated when I think about it. I tried to contact my publisher but that say its up to amazon, Amazon puts it back on the sellers. :(

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 11:32:19 AM PST
Jim says:
I agree with you. I am the only legitimate distributor of my book and I sell it at cover price of 24.95. Yet there are two sellers listing it at over 100.00 new and used. The only way they can sell a 'new' copy is to buy it from me. Some sellers prefer to rip off buyers and do a diservice to authors. It's a shame... my book is nominated for this years Rondo Hatten Classic Horror Award and I hope none of my readers are getting ripped off!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2012 7:49:22 PM PDT
I am new and came up with one idea. they are using Amazons warehouse and will have to pay storage or pay to have it disposed of or shipped back so they would rather sell it for one penny than do that. The buyer pays the post.
It they are shipping boxes of books to Amazon, they how the ones that sell make up for any that don't sell. Hope this helps.

Posted on Apr 5, 2012 11:53:10 AM PDT
Rich Hartzog says:
Optimists!

The only way you can explain the insane prices asked, is that the sellers are optimists (and greedy). There is one major seller (internationalbooks) with hundreds of thousands of sales, and they just put in some random number for the price. Enough people pay the crazy price, that they don't care about the unsold items! I wrote a book and sell it for $49.95 on Amazon. Three other sellers have it at $999 and $1156!

I suspect the automatic pricing programs see other high prices, and just put in a random high price to match. I actually LIKE the high prices, as it sure makes my price look fantastic, and drives sales to me.

Rich Hartzog - World Exonumia Press

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 1:02:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 6, 2012 1:19:41 AM PDT
Darkwriter says:
Amazon needs to develop software that weeds out the nefarious sellers that cancel orders to inflate prices or continually fake inventories. Lately I have had several sellers sell me a book at a normal price for the edition and condition; however, they quickly cancel the order by the reason of being "out of stock" while I can clearly see they still have the same book advertised in their inventory; or, they will you send you a worthless, wrong edition and/or a damaged book instead. The last seller I dealt with still has the book I ordered and another just like it listed at a new, exaggerated rate that increased from $3.80 to $28.00 after they cancelled the order because they were "out of stock". Heck, the publisher isn't even charging this amount for a new edition.

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 4:12:09 PM PDT
Bubba says:
I wonder if some sellers are hoping that somebody accidentally orders a book at the extremely high price. Just takes one or two sales to make it worthwhile.

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 9:24:53 PM PDT
Right I wish someone would crack down on these exaggerated prices and stock claims...I've noticed that in looking for a certain out of print children's book over the past few years that many of these amazon third-party sellers often list crazily different prices, many purporting to have an edition available with a dust jacket. Yet when I invariably email them to double check that the edition they are selling actually has a dust jacket, they either don't respond specifically to that question, and will refer me back to their original description which isn't always stated or in some instances they've actually told me that their inventory is too large to actually check this information. So I end up not ordering the book. Unfortunately a lot of these same sellers are on ebay so I have yet to track down an edition with a dust jacket of this particular book. The sellers seem to know that this is an edition that is in demand, but they are very cagey about admitting whether they actually have a copy with a dust jacket...like they want to trick the buyer by listing an exaggeratedly high price that makes it seem as if this is an edition with a dust jacket, but they back down from responsibility if your order is shipped and you don't receive what you are looking for and have specifically inquired about, because they claim they can't 'check the large amount of their inventory.' Pooh!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2012 11:19:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 6, 2012 11:22:00 PM PDT
Darkwriter says:
Exactly! I didn't mention it in my post about contacting the seller to verify the ISBN and condition before I purchase but I do it if it seems odd in any way. Sellers who are not serious or do not have the actual inventory will either not respond or will auto-reply without a straight answer to your query. I also agree that in most cases you can find the same seller with the same imaginary book and/or the inflated price on other book-selling sites.

Posted on Apr 7, 2012 12:05:58 PM PDT
S. Williams says:
I am thinking...(1) seller made an honest, sloppy, error, which seems most likely...either it is a collector's copy (e.g. signed) that is not described or classified that way, or they added an extra digit to the price, or crossed wires with two different books, (2) seller is hoping someone will think it must be a collector's edition and buy it in an impulsive panic (the used car salesman analogy filters over into other resale dealers), or (3) it is a black market cover...exchange $300 and a UPS mailing that nobody except guy in the know would pay for the "listed item", which they know is not the book.

Posted on Apr 7, 2012 6:12:27 PM PDT
Alphaboo says:
Simply put I have stopped buying from third parties. The first time I ordered I learned an important lesson. I had bought the item as part of a larger order and did not realize the book I was buying at a good price became a bad price because the third party charged double the books price in S&H making it cost more than a current edition/ I just looked at a book Master shots, a filmmaking book which in the 2nd edition cost less than 20 dollars but the two third party original editions are listed a 1000 thousand yes one thousand dollars plus. Did the 1st ed use gold ink? how can you justify this. These sellers should be banned forever from amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 6:19:06 PM PDT
Alphaboo says:
Quite often I placed an item in my cart intending to purchase the item the next day after reviewing it and making sure it's the item I want. Many times the item has doubled in price in less than 24 hours. Why does the fact I want to buy it make it twice as valuable. If Amazon can track these items these theives and that is what they are thieves, they don't even rate being called scam artists, should be banned forever, but they would come back with a different name. I don't even believ seller profiles. The amount of sales some record and book reseller claim are hard to believe.

Posted on Apr 8, 2012 2:40:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2012 2:43:18 AM PDT
There is an ongoing internet rumor (which I am sure you have all heard but I'll just put it in here in case someone hasn't) that the very,very high priced items come with "extras"-like cocaine. Its supposed to be a way of selling drugs openly on Amazon. So the high priced scammers may get a vist from the DEA if this rumor continues.
(edit: I see S. Williams has already adressed this. When I first heard this rumor last year it was about the gallon of milk for $32,000 which, while white, was not milk)

Posted on Apr 10, 2012 4:33:40 PM PDT
A vast majority of the ridiculously priced books (not rare, expensive books) are from parasite "virtual dealers" who do not actually have any books at all, but have repricing software that relists books from other dealers and/or publishers. As someone noted previously, some of these programs automatically increase the price from the target copy and if several of these target each other's books, they can climb rapidly in price. A simple way to check if your seller is a real book seller or a parasite seller is to send a polite question about the book like details on the dust jacket or condition. The parasites will either not answer or send a reply to the effect that their books are in such huge warehouses that they can't check for you (with the obvious question, how will they sell it too you if the warehouse is so large they can't find it?). Keep looking and you will find the same book at a more reasonable price. Usually real book sellers have condition descriptions of the books and not some boilerplate like "thousands of happy customers" or "buy with confidence, fully guaranteed". Caveat emptor.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 11:22:09 AM PDT
G. Chastain says:
It is insane.
I've seen one seller, COLLEGEBOOK_DEPOT, who appears to have every book in their inventory listed for the same price; $598.00!!! I can't guess at how many searches I've made for used books from this seller under different subjects and they all popped up for $598.00! Case in point: "Electromagnetic Wave Propagation Through Rain." Condition: Acceptable. Price: $598.00! Amazon.com's NEW price? $148.00! Retail price from publisher? $172.00.
I've sent them e-mails more than once notifying them that their listings appear incorrect but the e-mails were ignored.

I see MANY MarketPlace sellers listing MANY used books (I'm an engineer and search for bargains on engineering, mathematics, other technical books) for SEVERAL HUNDRED PERCENT of what you can buy the same or current edition at full retail directly from the publisher.

So if any of you sellers out there with rediculous pricing on your used books are wondering why people aren't buying some of your books? This is why.

Posted on Apr 12, 2012 12:42:23 PM PDT
S. Andrews says:
These are all great theories. I always figured that the person was a hoarder and was being forced to sell the books. Since they don't want to get rid of them, they list them for ridiculous prices and say, "Well honey, at least I tried!"

Posted on Apr 13, 2012 2:38:06 PM PDT
A. Gilbert says:
Many, if not most of my sales are to libraries, so my theory was that these are libraries buying the high-priced books. From my experience with college libraries, at least, they have a certain amount of funds that they must spend each year. If they don't spend them all, then they only receive the lower amount that they spent the next year. In order to keep their allocation high, they sometimes send us (professors) emails saying "We have to spend our funds now! Tell us some books to buy!" and I wonder if as the deadline for the end of the fiscal period ends, they buy a few ridiculously expensive books in order to finish up their funds and preserve their future line of funding.

Posted on Apr 14, 2012 10:51:09 PM PDT
Denni says:
I've been wondering about this problem also. I was looking for a few good copies of a recently OOP short story collection which sold for $7.99 new. A few schools still show it as required reading, so when the school year starts up the price goes through the ceiling...there are several copies listed in the $300 - $700 range. The rest of the year, copies can be purchased (if one watches) for under $4.

I agree with whoever suggested greed sellers, and I think Amazon should address this situation. Buyers are becoming leary of whatever scam is going on and will look elsewhere for their merchandise. I suspect there's a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

Regarding the $3.99 additional shipping for third party sellers not using Amazon Fulfillment...the website makes no attempt to hide the shipping fees, there are right there in plain sight. The customer really needs to take a little responsibility. Basically, any book/item not sold directly through Amazon or utilizing Amazon Fulfillment will have additional shipping charges.

I've also heard the rumors that some of those stupid/huge prices include 'other' merchandise...I'd be curious to see an investigation done. You'd think just the 'scam' factor alone would warrant a consumer protection investigation.

Posted on Apr 15, 2012 12:12:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 15, 2012 12:15:45 AM PDT
I'm curious as to if anything can actually be done, or would be done, anyway. If people are knowingly paying a given amount for an item that is clearly listed as what it is, there generally isn't any obligation for the price to be "fair". Just as you can get a good deal, you can get a bad one. If you're appropriately informed as to what you're paying for, with no false or fraudulant claims made, it's usually "buyer beware". So, if a seller said it was a signed copy or whatever, and it wasn't, then it's fraud. But, it's quite a bit trickier when they're selling EXACTLY what they claim to be selling, with a price clearly listed that is the price a buyer is in fact charged. It's not really a scam if you get exactly what you pay for. Not that I think it's right. I just think it'd be kind of tough to justify banning such sellers or having a case against them or anything. Nobody is holding a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to pay an inflated price, and I don't think there's any law declaring the price private sellers can sell a book for, as long as the buyer knows what they're paying for and how much.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 1:57:22 AM PDT
very close to the truth i think.amazon has reached the poinnt where they can ignore the customers(both buyer and seller)and just lay back and watch the cash roll in,sort of the way our government ignores the needs of it,s people!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 6:59:56 AM PDT
There are times when sellers don't think to check their inventories when for some reason a very ordinary price somehow gets published with an extra zero added. I've had to go into Thatsstore's inventory list when books I KNEW would sell quickly but don't. When the price gets changed back to the one I originally sent Amazon the book sells. Since Thatsstore sells nearly every book at under $10 no matter what it is keeping the price the way it was intended to be is a deep concern.
Another reason why other sellers put their prices incredibly high is that they may just unconsciouly want people to buy from Thatsstore instead. High prices at other shops is my shops best friend.

Posted on Apr 15, 2012 7:36:41 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 15, 2012 4:15:27 PM PDT]

Posted on Apr 15, 2012 7:44:16 AM PDT
The Lady & Her Porch

I found it very interesting that on the day I emailed my final manuscript to my publisher (Feb 7, 2012), I saw my listing for books available for order in paperback with a 1 to 3 week delivery timeframe from Amazon (my printing company got the file Feb 7 also) and ebooks were available for order that same day. All that seemed reasonable to me. Additionally what I saw, though, was Used books available for up to $46.xx. My printing comapny hadn't even gotten the book run setup at that time. I had placed a large order for myself so I didn't get my physical book order in my own hands until March 15.

After reading all of these posts, I have a better picture to explain the mind-boggling experience of seeing Used books available when no hardcopy had yet been printed. Thanks to all for your info; it was very helpful.
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Discussion in:  Textbook Buyback forum
Participants:  51
Total posts:  87
Initial post:  Mar 1, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 29, 2014

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