The Dark Side of Ebay, Amazon & Abe Used Books
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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:01 am 
 

I know this thread is a little off-topic, but being a used book store owner must be a tough business . . . it's come up before on the acaeum before when members relate how hardcover AD&D books are sitting on the shelves at $20+ without ever being sold . . .   Badmike has lots of humorous stories as well.  :D



Have any of you ever noticed how the sellers on Abe, Amazon and Ebay (stores) have formed a kind of "unspoken" price fixing ring?  That is, when a book is semi-rare or very desirable to a small group of people, they set the price astronomically high and all the other sellers fall in line.  Books that might fall into this category are art books,  military books, books about certain famous people, etc.



Here is a prime example - I've had this book on my shelf for years called The World of Michael Parkes.  It is a beautiful, oversized hardcover book featuring some of the artist's work.  I figured it was time to sell it and wondered if I could get about $25 for it?



But look at the prices out there:



eBay



Abe



Holy crap!  I'm sure almost none of these books have sold . . . they just sit in inventory year after year.  Okay, I guess I'm not much better, after all, I did set my price at $175 which is the lowest out there, but still asking a lot of a potential buyer.  Anyone who wants this book must think to themselves:  "F**king asshole sellers!"



It's a good thing RPG books are too common (relatively speaking) and come from many sources besides used book stores or it would cost $50 for a Player's Handbook!



(Of course, when one finally does sell, it will probably be mine as it's the cheapest, has a nice picture, good seller rep, etc.  I bought the damn thing at the discounted section of Barnes & Noble for around $12 some ten years ago!)


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:01 am 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:I know this thread is a little off-topic, but being a used book store owner must be a tough business . . . it's come up before on the acaeum before when members relate how hardcover AD&D books are sitting on the shelves at $20+ without ever being sold . . .   Badmike has lots of humorous stories as well.  :D

Have any of you ever noticed how the sellers on Abe, Amazon and Ebay (stores) have formed a kind of "unspoken" price fixing ring?  That is, when a book is semi-rare or very desirable to a small group of people, they set the price astronomically high and all the other sellers fall in line.  Books that might fall into this category are art books,  military books, books about certain famous people, etc.

Here is a prime example - I've had this book on my shelf for years called The World of Michael Parkes.  It is a beautiful, oversized hardcover book featuring some of the artist's work.  I figured it was time to sell it and wondered if I could get about $25 for it?

But look at the prices out there:

eBay

Abe

Holy crap!  I'm sure almost none of these books have sold . . . they just sit in inventory year after year.  Okay, I guess I'm not much better, after all, I did set my price at $175 which is the lowest out there, but still asking a lot of a potential buyer.  Anyone who wants this book must think to themselves:  "F**king asshole sellers!"

It's a good thing RPG books are too common (relatively speaking) and come from many sources besides used book stores or it would cost $50 for a Player's Handbook!

(Of course, when one finally does sell, it will probably be mine as it's the cheapest, has a nice picture, good seller rep, etc.  I bought the damn thing at the discounted section of Barnes & Noble for around $12 some ten years ago!)




Wow, spot on!  A lot of this is because sellers have really no recourse when choosing what to price something except someone elses prices.  We all do it, sellers on Ebay, whenyou want to find out a price you look at what it's selling for. I think the very little price variance is twofold:  #1, most sellers are greedy and if they see three other sellers hoping to get $200 for something, they figure it's worth $200 and don't want a penny less.  #2, if the item is priced far below "market" (i.e. what the other sellers are charging), they one of the other sellers will buy the below market item themselves to resell!  I have experienced this recently with MERP items I listed way below market, after blocking certain other sellers who I thought had much too high prices on their identical items...then being contacted by said sellers who tried to buy the item, but were blocked, and wanted to know why.  The funniest part is, every below "market" price, many of my MERP items still haven't sold!  What can I say, I guess I'm a bit greedy also... :lol:



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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:10 am 
 

Capitalism at it's best/worst.  Exploit demand.

  


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:29 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
Wow, spot on!  A lot of this is because sellers have really no recourse when choosing what to price something except someone elses prices.  We all do it, sellers on Ebay, whenyou want to find out a price you look at what it's selling for. I think the very little price variance is twofold:  #1, most sellers are greedy and if they see three other sellers hoping to get $200 for something, they figure it's worth $200 and don't want a penny less.  #2, if the item is priced far below "market" (i.e. what the other sellers are charging), they one of the other sellers will buy the below market item themselves to resell!  I have experienced this recently with MERP items I listed way below market, after blocking certain other sellers who I thought had much too high prices on their identical items...then being contacted by said sellers who tried to buy the item, but were blocked, and wanted to know why.  The funniest part is, every below "market" price, many of my MERP items still haven't sold!  What can I say, I guess I'm a bit greedy also... :lol:

Mike B.


I usually don't care as to who buys from me.  I have sold to folks which I knew where going to end up trying to resell the item for more money than I got for it, but I feel that hey, if you can make more money off it than me then more power to you.  The only times in the past where I have blocked sellers are the ones who are blatant rip off artists i.e jonb(or whatever incarnation that he is using at the time) or those who threaten to try and take over the RPG World(muwhahahah), i.e Coug, Creep, etc.  :)


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:51 pm 
 

I should also probably mention that I also block anyone caught shilling and those jerk-offs that sell pdfs.  Those are also extremely quick ways to end up on my blocked list.


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 3:34 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:I know this thread is a little off-topic, but being a used book store owner must be a tough business . . . it's come up before on the acaeum before when members relate how hardcover AD&D books are sitting on the shelves at $20+ without ever being sold . . .   Badmike has lots of humorous stories as well.  :D

Have any of you ever noticed how the sellers on Abe, Amazon and Ebay (stores) have formed a kind of "unspoken" price fixing ring?  That is, when a book is semi-rare or very desirable to a small group of people, they set the price astronomically high and all the other sellers fall in line.  Books that might fall into this category are art books,  military books, books about certain famous people, etc.

Here is a prime example - I've had this book on my shelf for years called The World of Michael Parkes.  It is a beautiful, oversized hardcover book featuring some of the artist's work.  I figured it was time to sell it and wondered if I could get about $25 for it?

But look at the prices out there:

eBay

Abe

Holy crap!  I'm sure almost none of these books have sold . . . they just sit in inventory year after year.  Okay, I guess I'm not much better, after all, I did set my price at $175 which is the lowest out there, but still asking a lot of a potential buyer.  Anyone who wants this book must think to themselves:  "F**king asshole sellers!"

It's a good thing RPG books are too common (relatively speaking) and come from many sources besides used book stores or it would cost $50 for a Player's Handbook!

(Of course, when one finally does sell, it will probably be mine as it's the cheapest, has a nice picture, good seller rep, etc.  I bought the damn thing at the discounted section of Barnes & Noble for around $12 some ten years ago!)




That has happened with Through Dungeons Deep or seems to have. I know someone got luckly to get a sub $30 copy here recently but otherwise they seem to be selling for $30+ even on eBay and in the online bookstores alot more than that.



As to the book you mentioned is it that good? I have never heard of it or the artist. I will see if I can find some other books that have examples of his work.


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 4:03 pm 
 

Marlith wrote:
That has happened with Through Dungeons Deep or seems to have. I know someone got luckly to get a sub $30 copy here recently but otherwise they seem to be selling for $30+ even on eBay and in the online bookstores alot more than that.

As to the book you mentioned is it that good? I have never heard of it or the artist. I will see if I can find some other books that have examples of his work.



A copy of this sat on my local Half Price Books shelf for almost a year.  I looked through it quite a bit, it is a curiousity item, nothing more.  Just pictures of different scenes from a dungeon. At the time, it was selling for little on Ebay so I never picked it up.  I wouldn't pay the amount onlinestores are asking for it, it doesn't seem to be significant enough of a collectible.

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 4:10 pm 
 

bclarkie wrote:
I usually don't care as to who buys from me.  I have sold to folks which I knew where going to end up trying to resell the item for more money than I got for it, but I feel that hey, if you can make more money off it than me then more power to you.  The only times in the past where I have blocked sellers are the ones who are blatant rip off artists i.e jonb(or whatever incarnation that he is using at the time) or those who threaten to try and take over the RPG World(muwhahahah), i.e Coug, Creep, etc.  :)


I usually don't care either, I'm of the school that "Hey, I made my profit, if you can make more, power to you dude".  But like you dislike rip off artists, I don't like those that try to corner the market on a particular item (Cougie's obsession with H1) or genre (MERP in this case).  I'm not particularly altruistic, but sometimes you basically have 2-3 sellers cornering the market on certain items and then jacking up the prices because of this.  Not mentioning the item or rival sellers, but I recently listed an item for $100 less than the rival sellers had the same collectible item listed.  Not only was I contacted because the sellers wanted to buy my copy, but neither their copy NOR my $100 cheaper copy has sold in the last few months.  As a matter of fact my rivals have LOWERED their prices as the result of not being able to buy my copy cheaply, or having sold their copies. This tells me the true worth of the copy is closer to my price than theirs. Regardless, I would rather sell this particular item to a gaming fan rather than having another seller turn it over at substantial profit.  It may be hypocritical, but in the end I guess I hope by selling to gamers I might drum up more business that way.

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 4:17 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
I usually don't care either, I'm of the school that "Hey, I made my profit, if you can make more, power to you dude".  But like you dislike rip off artists, I don't like those that try to corner the market on a particular item (Cougie's obsession with H1) or genre (MERP in this case).  I'm not particularly altruistic, but sometimes you basically have 2-3 sellers cornering the market on certain items and then jacking up the prices because of this.  Not mentioning the item or rival sellers, but I recently listed an item for $100 less than the rival sellers had the same collectible item listed.  Not only was I contacted because the sellers wanted to buy my copy, but neither their copy NOR my $100 cheaper copy has sold in the last few months.  As a matter of fact my rivals have LOWERED their prices as the result of not being able to buy my copy cheaply, or having sold their copies. This tells me the true worth of the copy is closer to my price than theirs. Regardless, I would rather sell this particular item to a gaming fan rather than having another seller turn it over at substantial profit.  It may be hypocritical, but in the end I guess I hope by selling to gamers I might drum up more business that way.

Mike B.


I just realized it wasn't clear...I would never block other sellers, EXCEPT
those I identify as trying to aggressively corner a market on an item or genre specifically to jack up prices to artificial levels on those items for resale.

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 4:40 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:I don't like those that try to corner the market on a particular item (Cougie's obsession with H1)

Just for the sake of argument, I'll say that I think we give Cougie way too much credit here.

He has not — and never will — "cornered" this particular market. For one thing, the print run was too high for a single collector to ever be able to hunt down and purchase a large enough percentage of the thousands of copies that are still out there. For another, our least-favorite feline sells off his stock of H1s far too often to give himself a chance at even partially "cornering" the market. The idea is to hoard, not to sell off a copy every time you need 50 quid for cat-nip.

H1 will never be "cornered," by Cougie or anyone else; it has scattered too widely. ST1, maybe ... although it would cost some serious coin. But a product with a print run in the thousands? Not going to happen.

Sorry, I'm probably lurching us off-topic. It's just an expression that's always bugged me, and I don't think it really applies to anything ever printed by TSR. I'm not looking to attack BadMike or anyone else ... I just really don't like the expression.

I feel better now that I've gotten that out of my system ... I'll stop now. :)

*edited for spelling*

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 6:51 pm 
 

bclarkie wrote:I should also probably mention that I also block anyone caught shilling and those jerk-offs that sell pdfs.  Those are also extremely quick ways to end up on my blocked list.

I'm with you, BC — I block idiots by the dozens. Most of the bozos who get discussed on the shady, PDF, or silliest threads I just block without a second thought. Life's just too short ... and if costs me a few bucks here or there, I guess I've learned to live with it.  :wink:

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:24 pm 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:Just for the sake of argument, I'll say that I think we give Cougie way too much credit here.

He has not — and never will — "cornered" this particular market. For one thing, the print run was too high for a single collector to ever be able to hunt down and purchase a large enough percentage of the thousands of copies that are still out there. For another, our least-favorite feline sells off his stock of H1s far too often to give himself a chance at even partially "cornering" the market. The idea is to hoard, not to sell off a copy every time you need 50 quid for cat-nip.

H1 will never be "cornered," by Cougie or anyone else; it has scattered too widely. ST1, maybe ... although it would cost some serious coin. But a product with a print run in the thousands? Not going to happen.

Sorry, I'm probably lurching us off-topic. It's just an expression that's always bugged me, and I don't think it really applies to anything ever printed by TSR. I'm not looking to attack BadMike or anyone else ... I just really don't like the expression.

I feel better now that I've gotten that out of my system ... I'll stop now. :)

*edited for spelling*


Maybe I should have said "Attempt to corner". Regardless if it's possible or not, this type of mindset always irks me immensely.  It goes with Shipley's "Genius" idea...that these guys somehow think they have beaten the system in some way and are going to RULE THE WORLD!!!  And even if that person cannot corner the market on say an H1, it does prevent a legitimate collector or buyer from purchasing that item for a reasonable price while the "Genius" drives up the price bidding up every copy that comes for sale. That kind of idiotic thinking always gets the block.

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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 5:46 am 
 

I block a few resellers whose business practices I don't agree with - you can probably guess who they are and they have most likely been discussed on the shady dealers thread.

While I "generally" don't care if someone buys from me and then resells, I really don't have to worry about it anymore as my minimum bid or store price is too high for reseller profit.  

Well, except for Wayne . . . he stills buys stuff now and then and sticks it in his Amazon store . . .  :D


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 3:38 pm 
 

I sell probably $100 a month to a *Certain Unnamed to protect privacy* reseller.  I love when they buy something from me that I have a couple of extra copies in stock of and then I relist at the same price as quick a I can thereby negating their plan to hike the price up on it.  =)

  


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 3:50 pm 
 

Here is a question for anyone and everyone who sells on EBay.  Exactly how many bidders do you have blocked from your auctions?  You don't have to list specific names, just the total amount of bidders that you have blocked.  I am actually quite curious.  I will tell you that I have a total of 65.  Granted a portion of those blocked are surprisingly enough "No longer registered users", but I still have them blocked just in case.  Anyone else?


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 3:56 pm 
 

18 for me, many would be familiar names to those who frequent this site.  =)

  

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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 4:08 pm 
 

I don't have many - most of which there is no current concern about (like jonb and game emporium, etc.)

The only currently active ebay users I have blocked are cougar, creep and zabe.


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 4:18 pm 
 

Heh, I figured my number was going to end up being high. :oops:   My number is pretty high though for 2 reasons:  

1) I try to be proactive in blocking those who I perceive to be problem bidders.  In my Ebay travels, if I see that someone has been  continuously a problem bidder in the past, based on other sellers comments, I will go ahead and block them.  I just don't want to deal with people who act like 12 year olds or those I see have a history of leaving loads of not so nice feedback for sellers without at least showing the courtesy of contacting them first.  I also don't tolerate stupid ass games either.  For instance, the guy who emailed me a few months back looking for me to sell him a copy of the Jade Hare I had up for sale, yeah he got blocked.  Blocked immediately as a matter of fact.  No time for that sh*t.

2) The other reason my number is probably high is because of the way that I am, I am kind of a lighting rod for the jack-asses of EBay, i.e emailing pdf'ers, calling out shillers, etc.  I would imagine that if I took a much more laid back approach to things, I could probaly save myself some headaches.  :?


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 5:13 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:Have any of you ever noticed how the sellers on Abe, Amazon and Ebay (stores) have formed a kind of "unspoken" price fixing ring?  That is, when a book is semi-rare or very desirable to a small group of people, they set the price astronomically high and all the other sellers fall in line.


Right, but that only works if you actually have something THAT desirable.  Otherwise, you have a wonderful selection of frozen assets.

I would think a smart businessperson would eventually drop the price a bit, simply because turnover has to be better than sitting on unsellable product.  Honestly, I think the whole thing fits better into "wishful thinking" more than any kind of sound business model.  Very few things are as rare as people like to believe.

The concept can be countered by a patient buyer.  I do this frequently in another of my collections (a small sub-niche of comic art).  Something pops up on eBay, and I bid.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I don't, but I always see just the same three or four bidders.  So I wait for the next one, when there will be one less bidder.  Eventually I get a copy, for FAR less than the used book dealers are asking.  Granted, this won't work in every area, but I think the "Tortoise And The Hare" lesson has some merit always.  And please don't confuse this with being cheap - I pay big money when the situation warrants it.

When I occasionally stumble across something good, I just let it fly in an open auction.  I have generally been happy with my results, but I'd rather have a good price now than a great price later.  Has anyone done any studies of auction vs. fixed priced?  I would think inertia/auction frenzy would eke out a bit more money in the end, but I have no data to support that.


A weird practice I have seen recently (although confined to just one buyer so far, so it's possible he's just loony) is raising prices.  During an auction.  Yep, no one bids and he raises the opening bid.  I assume the idea is to get people to bid early and not wait for the last moment.  I don't believe that would actually get any more money in the end, and really just leads to one seeming a bit... odd.  If the original opening bids weren't already too high, it might not be so ridiculous.  The sell through percentage achieved is not very high.  Shocking, I know.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 11:34 pm 
 

TheHistorian wrote:

When I occasionally stumble across something good, I just let it fly in an open auction.  I have generally been happy with my results, but I'd rather have a good price now than a great price later.  Has anyone done any studies of auction vs. fixed priced?  I would think inertia/auction frenzy would eke out a bit more money in the end, but I have no data to support that.
.


I'm actually very down on auctions right now, unless the item is guaranteed to garner interest from multiple bidders, or was purchased at such a low price that a minimum bid would make me profit.  In my case, almost everytime I have gotten more money off fixed priced ebay store items than when I auction them in  a week's time.  I know a lot more sellers do better with auctions, I just seem to have terrible luck vs just sitting it in my store for a few weeks at a price I want.

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