Monday, November 18, 2013

How dumb do you have to be?

I see where you can buy the paperback of my book brand new for $8.73.  Or, if you're a complete moron you can buy one used from a second party.  Check out the last one.  I want to meet the cretin who pays that.  And it doesn't include shipping.   Anyway, if you want a new copy for $112.00 less, here's where you go.   Thanks.


19 comments:

mdv1959 said...

To be fair, it does say they will give you your money back if you're not happy.

I could be making this up, but I think I read that some of these listings are placed automatically by 3rd party software. They know they can get the book for $10 so why not see if someone unwittingly buys it for $120 and at that point they will fill the order by buying a new one from you. Basically automated book scalpers accept they don't have to by the merchandise up front.

Mike said...

Yes, these are computer algorithms locked together in a duel to the death. Something like: the highest offer sets its price at $10 more than the next highest offer. That offer sets its price at £10 less than the highest offer. The price then escalates automatically. There are two pairs in this example.
Shouldn't Amazon be blocking this kind of behaviour? Like paying the taxes it owes to the countries in which it operates, I guess that's not part of the Mission Statement.

Richard Y said...

I have always wondered about that as I have a few books on Amazon where sellers are offering them at outrageously high prices when two of them are still in print. Crazy

Charles H. Bryan said...

Forbes magazine had an interesting article on Amazon’s tax behavior a few months back. Particularly enjoyable was Amazon’s attempt to deny that they had a physical presence in Texas despite a giant distribution building with a giant Amazon flag in front of it.

However, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about Amazon’s behavior because I’ve concluded that all large corporations, and many not so large ones, are ethically smelly, so I might as well buy stuff from the shitheel with the best prices. This might be what Dr. Freud referred to as ‘rationalization’.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Amazon and others (Google, Vodafone, Facebook, Apple) have been under a lot of fire in the UK for using the complexities of subsidiaries and international law to pay ridiculously small amounts of tax given their earnings as reported to the SEC. I don't know if he's right, but Warren Buffett has said that if all US companies paid tax the way Berkshire Hathaway does, US consumers wouldn't have to pay taxes at all.

Meantime...my copy of MUST KILL TV is on its way, or so I'm told.

wg

Dodgerdog said...

Perhaps it's because it's a First Edition Collectible!

Hamid said...

Never underestimate the stupidity of some people. When Whitney Houston died, within days on eBay there were people in the UK bidding up to £10 for a used DVD of The Bodyguard. At exactly the same time, you could purchase a brand new copy from Amazon.co.uk for £2.99.

Tim W. said...

I bought 5 copies of the $121 copy. My theory is that you get what you pay for, so I should enjoy those copies more than the $8 version. That's just logical.

chuckcd said...

For that price, you have to come to my house and read it to me!

Kay said...

More importantly, what if your book were a $29.95 hardcover, for which you and your publisher would receive royalties? On Amazon, right next to that $29.95 new price, will be a used price for something like $2.50. Well, what fool is going to buy the you-receive-royalties copy? Worse, Amazon encourages this practice by offering easy buy-backs.

I've never understood why publishers and the Author's Guild didn't slam Amazon hard for this (probably too damn scared of Amazon's power) or at least try to negotiate a royalty cut on used copies, which would not be difficult to track and distribute given the sophistication of Amazon's software.

Kay said...

Erratum: Authors Guild.

RCP said...

For a time you could find a package of Special Edition Oreos w/ Candy Corn filling for around $32 on eBay, though Target was selling them for $2.99 a pop. If you have money to burn, you can tell yourself you're part of that special elite who can enjoy this precious commodity while the masses press their dirty faces against the windows.

I'm saving my copy of "Must Kill TV" for my flight back East next week - it'll help ease the pain of travel!

Cap'n Bob said...

My first book was listed on Amazon's second tier list for $25,000 by one guy. Good thing it wasn't autographed.

Mark P. said...

I figure these are like mini-tender offers; it costs them next to nothing to try, and once in awhile someone will mistakenly take them up on their offer.

Some enterprising dirtbags even try to publish their own editions of someone else's books. An acquaintance of mine had a self-published hard copy book listed on Amazon. She was surprised one day to see a Kindle edition of her book listed on the same page.

bj said...

Because of these automated algorithms, a book about flies actually reached 23 million dollars. Hope yours does half as well Ken.

http://www.geek.com/news/amazon-algorithm-freaks-out-sells-book-for-23-6-million-1347813/

Ed Gorman said...

i've been a crime and mystery writer for thirty years and occasionally I need to buy used copies of my old books as file copies. A few years ago at the end of a list that ran from $1 to around $6 there was a copy for $350. Even if I didn't own a single copy of the book I'd never pay that. Unlike you I WOULDN'T want to meet the cretin who'd pay that. His knuckles would be dragging on the ground and he'd likely be criminally insane. BTW Your column has long been one of the true highlights of my day. Thank you.

Johnny Walker said...

Ah, so these weird discrepancies are actually algorithms gone mad? I always wondered. You see the same things on eBay sometimes, too.

I often wondered if there was some sort of money laundering, or black market thing going on:

People were buying a $10,000 copy of a book, but they were getting it packaged with cocaine. Or something.

Johnny Walker said...

From that GEEK.COM article, if anyone (besides me) is interested:

With some research, Eisen uncovered the hidden algorithm that was causing the prices to rise so drastically. It’s actually pretty simple. He said all it took was two sellers adjusting their prices in response to one another “by factors whose products were greater than 1.” The two Amazon merchants, “profnath” and “bordeebook,” seemed like legitimate sellers, with 8,000 and 125,000 ratings in the last year, respectively.
Eisen said the prices seemed random, which meant that they were probably computer generated. Each day profnath would try to sell its book at a slightly higher price (Eisner figured the amount was 0.9983 times bordeebooks’ price). The prices would stay close for a few hours, but then bordeebook’s price would predictably change (to 1.27059 times profnath’s). This pattern would go on and on until we had the final total of $23.6 million for one book.

Dale said...

I ordered my copy through a BOOK SHOP. Abbey's books in Sydney, to be precise. It arrived yesterday and I will collect it this Sunday.
I could have ordered it online, but I prefer to keep book shops alive.