Friday, September 9, 2011

Pricing on the Cheap

As I said in the previous post, I had been looking for a copy of Unbought Spirit, a selection of essays by John Jay Chapman. Amazon had eight new, some used, one "collectible".The eight new were priced oddly: five from two dealers clustered around $49; two from two dealers were in the upper $50s; the outlier was in the upper $70s.

The clustered dealers suggest computerized pricing. This year comp.risks mentioned a case in which pricing "bots" drove up the offer price of textbook on molecular biology until it exceeded $23 million.

I'd be happy to pay a small premium over the new cost of the book. I could certainly afford, if I wished to, even the outlier price for a new copy. But to pay dealer X $49.48 because dealer Y priced the book at $49.47? That is to reward and encourage sloth and stupidity--and greed, but I don't so much mind greed when it is accompanied by industry.

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