From $0.99 to $999.00

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Have you ever kept an Amazon Marketplace book in your ‘shopping cart’ for a long period of time, only to see that the price varies erratically from day to day? Amazon graciously posts a list of price changes (if any occur) at the top of your cart page each time you open it. A highlighted box shows you which items have increased or decreased in the intervening time since you last logged in. This feature has been invaluable to me, especially when it comes to tracking items that occasionally plummet far below their typical list prices.

Amazon Marketplace sellers can log in to change the prices of their third-party wares, and, occasionally, a few mistakes are made. Take this copy of Salman Rushide’s collection of short storeis, East-West. I have been watching it for the past few days, and in that time the price has gone up from $0.99 to $2.27. Then suddenly today, it soared from its humble dollar bin origins all the way up to a very elite $999.00. That is quite the markup.

Now, this book isn’t particularly rare or valuable, it is just a standard trade hardback in like new condition. There was probably a very large number of print runs for this title as Mr. Rusdie is a famous (and infamous) author. So why has the asking price climbed through the stratosphere?

There are a few other books that I could buy for this sum that are actually worth a thousand bucks, and they would most likely accrue much more in value than this relatively common short story collection. In fact, since the holiday is coming up, I think I could buy an 1891 vintage copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol instead. I really hope that no one stumbles across this listing, thinks that it is of great value, and recklessly makes a purchase.

I’m sure that this is some sort of mistake on the seller’s part. Perhaps he or she meant to reduce the price back down to $0.99 and accidentally rearranged the decimal point. I’m not sure if you can use an automated program to set your marketplace prices, but this could be the cause of the problem.

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