Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 14, 2012

Wall Street (the book) going for almost $1,000

This screenshot just taken on Amazon.com:

This is, of course, preposterous. But ego gratifying. And it also means that the four or five copies that were priced around $50 the other week just after the marvelous Justin Fox Review appeared actually sold.

But really, how are these things priced? Are their bot-driven algorithms, like on the stock market?

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Responses

  1. Repricing software…..

  2. Repricing software….the college textbook buyback place I worked for used “the art.of books”

  3. It’s just possible you haven’t seen this: http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=358

  4. I actually re-sell used books as part-time thing – in the age of internet freelancing jobs- as a supplement to my stupid temp job and its unlivable wage. Since I am a one-person operation, I don’t use the repricing software. But I have worked for a large textbook buyback company, and also scoured the Amazon sellers userlists back in the day when I used to sell there. http://www.booksalefinder.com has a good amount of ads for the different software people use. The company I worked for used http://www.theartofbooks.com . And some of the more savvy resellers reprice the books manually–I read their exploits on the amazon.com seller forums… Typically, if something goes way up in perceived value, they will buy up all the copies from every source they can find and then jack up the price (petit-monopoly capitalism?)

    this story is rather illustrative of the silliness and dangers of automatic repricing bots– back a few years ago, there was an even more wily tactic that the most savvy resellers, who manually price their books, would employ to gain monopoly control of a particular valuable, but relatively rare item. The repricing software can be set so that the seller using it can always have the lowest price–it will take the lowest price as a benchmark and always price your copies 2 or 3 cents lower. Some small sellers would realize that bigger companies were doing that. The small seller would try to order 99 copies of that book from the large seller to see how many actual copies they had–if they had less than 99, amazon would automatically your quantity to the maximum number of books that were available. Once the small seller knew how many copies were available, they could make the decision the exploit the large seller’s repricing software–or not. The small seller basically begins a pricing war in by pricing lower than the large seller, whose software then automatically reprices it lower than the small seller employing this trick. They race into a downward spiral of pricing, and soon most of the other sellers follow suit. Once the price gets down to the minimum that the big seller will go—which often times would be 1 cent–the small-time seller buys up everyone’s copies, and then jacks the price back up to 2 or 3 times the price they initially started at. ;-)

  5. I wrote something about this a few years back: You’re in good company. Fred Jameson’s book “Representing Capital” was right at $1k.

    http://onculturalproperty.blogspot.com/2011/06/jamesons-epresenting-capital.html

  6. I don’t know if there are bot-driven algorithms, but I know for sure their aren’t any.

  7. You go ,Doug !

  8. Oh man, this is great. I have a copy, and though I’d hate to part with it, I’ll wait a few weeks and see what happens.

    Seriously, I believe the time is ripe for a new Doug Henwood book along these lines but updated. I’ve read all sorts of books tumbling off the presses over the past few years about the global meltdown, but they’re all optional. What I NEED is your take developed at book length.

    Absent that, do you have a recommended reading list for these times?

  9. Hmm. I still have the copy I bought when the book first came out. Perhaps I should sell it.

  10. Is this a bubble or just the start ? Then we can start with a futures market and hedging swaps.

    10 crisp hardcovers would cover a bit of college.

  11. Buying Doug’s book for $999 to get an opportunity in your field of vision … that is exactly how the Wall Street casino works! Well, it’s actually fairly difficult to find a used hardback copy for under $100…

  12. I’m happy for you, but it pleases me and may please you to know that I downloaded the freed pdf from your site and printed it on The Man’s Xerox machine.

  13. Er, “free,” that is, except that “freed” is oddly appropriate too.

  14. I remember Doug fucking with the Verso rep at the Left Forum because they allowed Wall Street to go out of print. Dumb-asses. Clearly it needs another printing.

  15. it’s a drag that doug only posts on twitter now…lbo-talk, this blog have become wastelands..
    twitter seems like a high-tech circle jerk
    a post on gold would have been instructive…
    oh well


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