Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Memoir only $999! Get 'em while they last!

A friend of mine pointed out yesterday that there is a link through the Amazon page for my memoir of a reseller offering a used copy for $999.11, plus shipping.  Really?  When a brand new paperback is just $10.39?  It seemed crazy, but when I looked I found that he was right.

And this ironically on a site called DailyDeal USA.  There were five other sites also offering used copies, all for over $30.  So what is going on here?  The whole thing seems crazy.

I put this question to a writer's forum and got some varying theories.  One is that the high price is the result of automated bots that go around and price books just a little higher than the competition.  If two of these bots are going head to head, the price gets boosted way up.  There was one example of a biology textbook that this did happen to.  Eventually the price went to $28 million.

So why would a company automatically price their book higher than the competition?  That seems strange in itself.  I guess the idea is that they can then buy a copy from the competition and resell it?  In any case, when I clicked through to the DailyDeal USA storefront I found that almost all of their books for sale were listed at $999.  Many of these were current bestsellers, all used.

This leads to some speculation on another of the theories, which involves money laundering.  Theoretically, some criminals could set up their own bookstore.  They could charge exorbitant prices for the books.  Then they could take ill gotten gains they'd acquired somewhere else and use them to buy these super expensive books.  As the owners of the online bookstore, these funds would be clean; simply the income from "legitimate" book sales.

It's possible.  Really I have no better idea for what's going on with these prices.  I noticed that the same retailer has my book "Natalia" at $999 as well.  And here I can hardly manage one sale a month on that title at $3.99.  I guess if they can get a cool grand for a used copy, more power to them...

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