1024.99 for a book. Why?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Vol
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed May 09, 2018 7:36 pm

1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by Vol » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:21 pm

I have a question which has puzzled me for years. Like a lot of people, I buy books used online. Saves money and often I cannot tell the difference between a new book and a used book. What I don't get is I click used books in Amazon and I get a list of used books. Some say good, others say like new, etc. But there are always these books in that list that say like $1024.99 for the same book other are trying to sell for around $35. Have others seen this too? Always was curious what that is about. Is somebody crazy enough to buy a book for 1024 that they can get for 35? :sharebeer

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 19547
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:23 pm

A fool and his money are soon departed.....
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions


onourway
Posts: 1393
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:39 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by onourway » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:26 pm

It's just sellers gaming the Amazon system. There is no cost for them to list at that price, and if they get just one buyer it's a huge payday. Yes, people do actually fall for some of these.

There was a good episode of the podcast Reply All on this subject recently.

AlohaJoe
Posts: 3949
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:00 pm
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by AlohaJoe » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:33 pm

I was under the impression that most people had decided it was due to money laundering:

http://mebfaber.com/2018/04/18/how-to-l ... -now-free/
https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/26/crook ... on-ebooks/
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/ ... laundering
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/02/mon ... on-amazon/

From the Meb Faber link:
About a year ago a reader asked me why one of my books cost $75 on Amazon. [...]

My first instinct was that enterprising scammers were listing the books at a higher price point in an effort to arbitrage an Amazon search. If some poor, unsuspecting consumer searched for a book they might land on the wrong page, and inadvertently buy the book for the marked-up price.

I searched more authors and found that fake pages are the norm. My good buddy Barry Rithotz? Five fake pages. His partner Josh Brown? Only two fake ones. You name the author, chances are they have fake listings

SlowMovingInvestor
Posts: 916
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:27 am

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by SlowMovingInvestor » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:47 pm

Not familiar with how Amazon referral works, but could this pricing somehow be used to make $$s with that ?

tim1999
Posts: 3517
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 am

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by tim1999 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:51 pm

I have a 25 year old book that is somewhat rare in that it was only distributed to people of a certain organization, and some see it as a collector's item. There are some on Amazon and Ebay for $300-$400 each. I've had mine listed for 6 months for $40 and no takers. Other than some kind of scam, I can't comprehend what the thinking of the other sellers is. It's probably not even worth the $40 I'm trying to get.

SlowMovingInvestor
Posts: 916
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:27 am

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by SlowMovingInvestor » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:23 pm

Any similar issues on Ebay ?

I was looking at some selling some books and comics I have via Ebay, and some of the reported sales prices (especially for comics) strike me as strange.
Not as insane as this $1024.99 price on Amazon, and possibly mildly understandable for comics since comics quality is so vital to determining price. But still rather peculiar when the sales price seems to vary so much within just a few days of each other for comics of equal quality.

For books, local benefit or book sales often have the same books significantly cheaper than the sale prices on Ebay (even without shipping). Now, I recognize that rural areas may not have as many local sources of books, and Ebay or sites like AbeBooks are the only game in town, but I'm still not convinced those sales prices are legit.

jminv
Posts: 652
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by jminv » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:36 am

There are scarce books with limited supply but where there is legitimate demand so not suprising there that prices are high for them.

Then there is money laundering and/or credit card fraud which is what the prices for the book in The NY Times article could actually be about. Strange that the newspaper didn’t realize that was a possible angle where there’s a plethora of 99 cent listings and one for 2k+ for the same book. The only person buying the expensive ‘book’ would be a confederate of the seller. I think that they do try to avoid detection by amazon by listing for books with zero supply but also zero demand. It’s more obvious what they’re doing when there’s 20 copies at 99 cents and one in the stratosphere.

User avatar
jhfenton
Posts: 3540
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:17 am
Location: Ohio

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by jhfenton » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:38 am

I looked up an old college textbook on Amazon this week to see if it was still in print, and I found two separate listings:

Histoire De La Langue for $36.98 new or $21.52 used
HISTOIRE DE LA LANGUE DU LATIN A L'ANCIEN FRANCAIS for $2,943.25 shipping new / $847.15 to $846.40 for 4 used copies

If not for the legitimate listing, I would happily sell my "Good Condition" copy for $750 and undercut the second listing.

I've read explanations for the occasional absurd price for a book, but I don't see a legitimate explanation for a separate listing for a book with 5 nominally-separate sellers selling a book for absurd prices. :shock:

Edited to add: The main seller for the $2,943 book has inflated prices on everything in its storefront. $66.75 for $8 aquarium strips. $63.77 for a roll of tape. $67.14 for stickers. Etc. It has over 1,000,000 random items in its store and a few thousand customer feedback reports, 100% positive. :confused

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 4339
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by whodidntante » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:09 am

Maybe it's cheaper than a credit card cash advance + Western Union international wire fees. Credit card fraud is also a possibility. And if you hang around churning circles, you learn that banks that serve areas were money laundering is common are hypersensitive to legit transactions that give off a whiff of money laundering, so it might also be that. I don't think there is just one explanation for why someone would do that.

ddurrett896
Posts: 884
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:11 am

If it’s for college, tuition reimbursement from employer. Both books are covered, however:

1) the more expensive book = more credit card points
2) the more expensive book = better condition, higher resale after class

Valuethinker
Posts: 36742
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:23 am

Vol wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:21 pm
I have a question which has puzzled me for years. Like a lot of people, I buy books used online. Saves money and often I cannot tell the difference between a new book and a used book. What I don't get is I click used books in Amazon and I get a list of used books. Some say good, others say like new, etc. But there are always these books in that list that say like $1024.99 for the same book other are trying to sell for around $35. Have others seen this too? Always was curious what that is about. Is somebody crazy enough to buy a book for 1024 that they can get for 35? :sharebeer
My impression was that this was about pricing algorithms like "set it higher than the next price by $1".

I had not thought of the money laundering angle, however it would make sense -- at least I could see how that works.

SlowMovingInvestor
Posts: 916
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:27 am

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by SlowMovingInvestor » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:45 pm

When a marketplace seller sells through Amazon, who incurs the chargeback risk ? is it Amazon or is it the seller, or does it depend on the specific marketplace services that the seller chooses ?

I suspect that if Amazon itself were losing money from these transactions, they would clamp down on them fast, and given their algorithms/data expertise, it's not hard to do so for items like books (excluding vey rare books).

gtd98765
Posts: 120
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:15 am

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by gtd98765 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:46 pm

AlohaJoe wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:33 pm
I was under the impression that most people had decided it was due to money laundering:

+1

adamthesmythe
Posts: 2335
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by adamthesmythe » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:38 pm

That is certainly a possible price for a first edition.

It is also possible for a rare, out of print but still useful book to be listed for this kind of price.

expatjoe
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:32 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by expatjoe » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:38 pm

Maybe it's a pricing error.

User avatar
CaliJim
Posts: 3001
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:47 pm
Location: California, near the beach

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by CaliJim » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:36 pm

Scams to earn credit card points?

I buy your one book for $1024, you buy my two books for $512/ea.

??
-calijim- | | For more info, click this Wiki

Pluto9th
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:59 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by Pluto9th » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:39 pm

"Selected Nuclear Materials and Engineering Systems" (https://www.amazon.com/Selected-Nuclear ... 540484744/), multiple used and new copies, from $3,420 and up. Years ago on the New Yorker, Nicholson Baker, writing about the Kindle, mentioned the high price of the Kindle version of this book. Some amusing customer reviews of the book on Amazon, but none was from a verified purchase.

Don't leave "voice purchase" on your Alexa on w/o requiring a confirmation code! :D

TravelGeek
Posts: 2484
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by TravelGeek » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:37 pm

CaliJim wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:36 pm
Scams to earn credit card points?

I buy your one book for $1024, you buy my two books for $512/ea.

??
And you pay how much in commission to Amazon? Sounds like expensive points to me.

Doctor Rhythm
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:55 am

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by Doctor Rhythm » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:33 pm

Vol wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:21 pm
But there are always these books in that list that say like $1024.99
Because it's psychologically easier to accept than buying at $1025 even.

phantom0308
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 6:52 pm

Re: 1024.99 for a book. Why?

Post by phantom0308 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:09 am

It’s algorithmic pricing gone bad (computers guessing prices from supply and comparable goods). Some are attempts to screw up others algorithms.

Post Reply