Beware of Book Pricing Scams


There is currently a massive book pricing scam going on industry wide. The bulk of this problem can be laid squarely at the feet of Amazon.com’s lack-of-management team. Other selling services have now figured out how to exploit this ethic-less on-line retailer world with various automated pricing scams of their own. Each one designed to get their vendors “the most for their products.”

Amazon is big part of the problem

Part of this, a large part actually, of this problem has to do with Amazon Prime. I don’t sell on Amazon. Nobody with ethics does. There are many scams going on with Amazon Prime though. Just follow the news reports. I’m not speaking of the rampant catfish schemes. I’m talking about the reports I’ve heard on NPR where scammers put up a shiny new title priced north of $400 which has N pages of boilerplate legal speak about the copyright and content, then has only a single sentence or paragraph of actual original content. I wish I could find the link to it now.

Why would anyone pay $400+ dollars for an eBook with only a scant few words of original content? They wouldn’t. What they would do is snag that puppy for their “free” title and try to resell it to recoup their Prime costs. In truth it is hard to feel sorry for either side in that scam. The scammer gets paid some percentage of the list price so even at 10% they make out like a bandit. Rumor has it a great many people world wide are adopting pen names and hopping on this scam train.

The print book pricing scam

The print book scam is what bothers me.

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Just look at that. A title still in print with a publisher list price of $18.00 is being offered at prices ranging from $159 – $584. I can tell you the people hawking it as a new copy don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of actually shipping you a new copy. They will be selling a review copy or a previously sold copy. I control my own inventory and am careful about filling orders. Things are no better on Amazon.

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Used copies from 61.02 and “new” from $195.68. Ah, I couldn’t resist, I had to click on 5 new to see what it showed.

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Once again, those “new” copies aren’t “new”. I use no distributor. Barnes & Noble is the only book seller having a purchase contract with me. Thankfully, smart shoppers will most likely visit Barnes & Noble.

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What we have here is one person deciding to scam a system. They find a place where the book isn’t currently listed on-line and offer it at an unbelievably high price. Then they and others sign up for automatic pricing services. And that, dear reader, is how we end up with a nearly $2.2 million paperback. Hopefully nobody will be mislead by the Web site name half.com.

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My ebooks are all EPUB with this exception of this title. That title was release as a free PDF to be the tutorial/documentation for the xBaseJ OpenSource project. Would you be shocked to learn that twice now someone has put it up on Lulu.com as a POD with a $35 price tag? Yes, not once but twice, I’ve had to jump through hoops to get it taken down.

What we don’t currently have in this industry is a Trivago for books. A service which scans ALL or at least hundreds of on-line retailers to find the cheapest price. That is the only thing which will put an end to such pricing scams. Well, that and the law.

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