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Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?



 
 
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  #1  
Old February 10th 07, 03:18 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 69
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

I own a pristine copy of a volume titled "The Picatrix", published by
Ourobouros Press in 2001 in a limited edition of 1000 copies (mine is
#331). I'm doing an appraisal of the current value of this book, so I
searched Bookfinder to see what was listed there.

There are several copies listed, ranging in price from a low of $204
to a high of over $500 (the latter from a Seattle brick and mortar
store for a copy with a scuff on the cover!) One of the outliers,
pricing a copy at $430, was an outfit called "seattle_bookseller". I
wrote and asked why the price was so high, and got an amazingly
vituperative and abusive response, stating that this "WAS HOW THE RARE
BOOK BUSINESS WORKED" and that I "NEED A COURSE IN REMEDIAL ECONOMICS"
and so on.

I was a little surprised at this, but a little research turned up the
even more surprising information that this seller is one "Luis M.
Arsupial", the same person who was doing business (kinda) as
"texas_bookseller" up until about six months ago, and who previously
created a huge stink in this group over some questionable
transactions!

This kind of pricing seems like nothing more than gouging to me. I
could buy two copies of this book for what this yoyo is asking for it.
I can only assume that he's doing business on a basis of relying on
his customers being ignorant and not doing their research. Based on
the listings on Bookfinder, I'd estimate the value of this book at
$225 to $250, certainly nowhere close to $430.

Is this a usual practice? Do a lot of booksellers price their wares in
the hopes that their buyers will be too stupid to know that they're
being asked to pay twice what a book is worth?

(Apparently this "Luis M. Arsupial"--"marsupial"...?--was once known
as "Jason Christopher Hughes", a name which turns up a wide variety of
odd and amazing postings on USENET...)

Ads
  #2  
Old February 10th 07, 04:40 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
my-wings
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 75
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?


"Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)" wrote in
message oups.com...
I own a pristine copy of a volume titled "The Picatrix", published by
Ourobouros Press in 2001 in a limited edition of 1000 copies (mine is
#331). I'm doing an appraisal of the current value of this book, so I
searched Bookfinder to see what was listed there.

There are several copies listed, ranging in price from a low of $204
to a high of over $500 (the latter from a Seattle brick and mortar
store for a copy with a scuff on the cover!) One of the outliers,
pricing a copy at $430, was an outfit called "seattle_bookseller". I
wrote and asked why the price was so high, and got an amazingly
vituperative and abusive response, stating that this "WAS HOW THE RARE
BOOK BUSINESS WORKED" and that I "NEED A COURSE IN REMEDIAL ECONOMICS"
and so on.

I was a little surprised at this, but a little research turned up the
even more surprising information that this seller is one "Luis M.
Arsupial", the same person who was doing business (kinda) as
"texas_bookseller" up until about six months ago, and who previously
created a huge stink in this group over some questionable
transactions!

This kind of pricing seems like nothing more than gouging to me. I
could buy two copies of this book for what this yoyo is asking for it.
I can only assume that he's doing business on a basis of relying on
his customers being ignorant and not doing their research. Based on
the listings on Bookfinder, I'd estimate the value of this book at
$225 to $250, certainly nowhere close to $430.

Is this a usual practice? Do a lot of booksellers price their wares in
the hopes that their buyers will be too stupid to know that they're
being asked to pay twice what a book is worth?

(Apparently this "Luis M. Arsupial"--"marsupial"...?--was once known
as "Jason Christopher Hughes", a name which turns up a wide variety of
odd and amazing postings on USENET...)


I remember some sort of hoo-haa over "Luis M. Arsupial" but forget the
details, so my comments are general.

First: Good for you for doing your homework! The first rule of internet book
buying is "buyer beware".

Second: While the seller's response to you was over the top and
unprofessional, it's hard to know by how much without knowing how your
inquiry was phrased. Did you say: "I collect this author and I'd be happy to
know if you've got something special I haven't seen before that would make
your book worth more than most of the others I've seen"? Or did you say:
"You are a price gouger and a thief who preys on the ignorant and unwary.
Why are you charging so much?"?

Again, I'm ignoring whatever reputation the seller has already acquired.
Just talking in general.

One possibility is that the seller doesn't even own the book. That happened
to me not too long ago. I sold one to another seller who asked me to drop
ship the book. When I looked at his web site, he had copied my description
lock, stock, and barrel and upped my price by a third.

If I had to guess, I'd guess that that's what's really happening with your
seattle_bookseller. He finds books worth a few hundred dollars, prices his
copy a bit below the top, and plans on buying one of the lower priced books
if he has to fulfill the order. What could be better? Somebody else buys and
stocks the book, and it doesn't cost him a cent until he gets the order.
Again, just speculation, but that's my first guess.

All that said, basically used books are worth exactly what some one will pay
for them. The internet has been a great leveler as far as pricing, because
most people, even with a simple Google search, can do exactly what you did
and get the range of prices available. In the "old days", books moved much
differently. Sellers had shops, and priced for their geographic areas and
their specialty. A book that was priced at $12 in one shop could bring $50
or $200 when moved to a dealer who had the right clients for it. Sales from
dealer to dealer were a much bigger part of the trade. It was understood
that part of the value a dealer added to a book was his knowledge of the
collecting area and years of cultivating the kind of customers who would
want that kind of book.

So...your seller may indeed be a sleaze-bag. I would certainly never buy
from him based on the unprofessional response he made to you. But if he's
got the book and he wants to list it at $400+ when most copies are in the
$200-range, so what? Maybe his policy is to never revise a listing, and he's
just waiting for the market to catch up with him! You don't have to buy the
book, and he doesn't have to justify his price to you, unless he's got a
really good story that truly makes the book worth what he's charging.

Not that I think it's necessarily right for a dealer to charge any price at
all. I've seen some things that would simply embarrass me to be involved
with. There was an auction on eBay two weeks ago where a seller paired two
common $25 books, hyped the illustrator and sold the pair for over $200. And
a copycat did the same thing with the same titles and netted over $100.
Again, nobody made any of the customers bid on the auctions, and the books
were started at a very reasonable price, but seeing the final values, I just
cringed. I would hate to be either of those sellers when their customers
found out they could have gotten the same books for a quarter or half the
price on amazon.

And that, my friend, is why serious collectors often support specific
sellers over a period of years, even if it means they pay a small premium in
the pricing over what the same titles in the same condition would bring in
other venues. They do it because they know they can trust the seller to
accurately describe the books, to stand behind their products, and to price
fairly, even if not at the cheapest price.

Alice

--
Book collecting terms illustrated. Occasional books for sale.
http://www.mywingsbooks.com/


  #3  
Old February 10th 07, 05:43 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 69
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

On Feb 10, 8:40 am, "my-wings" wrote:
"Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)" wrote in
ooglegroups.com...

And that, my friend, is why serious collectors often support specific
sellers over a period of years, even if it means they pay a small premium in
the pricing over what the same titles in the same condition would bring in
other venues. They do it because they know they can trust the seller to
accurately describe the books, to stand behind their products, and to price
fairly, even if not at the cheapest price.


Thanks for your comments! Especially when buying rare stuff, having an
honest dealer is critical. The feedback for "seattle_bookseller" on
Amazon, at

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/seller...=AM0TBPF72AOXR

seems to support the notion that this business is best avoided.
Negative feedback is 8% in just the last month, and there have been
complaints about the condition of books being seriously misrepresented
(this was the issue that caused the fracas with this person last
time), non-delivery, delivery of less than was purchased (e.g. one
volume out of ten, ten out of twelve, etc.)


  #4  
Old February 10th 07, 06:46 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
Don Phillipson
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 41
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

"Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)" wrote in
message oups.com...

Based on
the listings on Bookfinder, I'd estimate the value of this book at
$225 to $250, certainly nowhere close to $430.


You may have a mistaken apprehension of the retail
market for genuinely rare books. In comparison with
other goods (e.g. computers, e.g. mass-produced new
books) vendors cannot set prices in order to undercut
the competition (because these items are so scarce
that price competition seldom works.) By contrast,
haggling (bargaining) over price may be as common
as in some other markets (e.g. automobiles.)

We still do not know why you did not buy a couple
of copies at $250 and offer to sell them to this dealer
at $350.

--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)


  #5  
Old February 10th 07, 07:18 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 69
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

On Feb 10, 10:46 am, "Don Phillipson"
wrote:

We still do not know why you did not buy a couple
of copies at $250 and offer to sell them to this dealer
at $350.


For starts, because he's abusive in response to straightforward
questions; secondly, because (based on his Amazon rating, and on
complaints about his previous incarnation as "texas_bookseller") he
appears to be dishonest.


  #6  
Old February 16th 07, 06:07 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 110
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

On Feb 10, 7:18 am, "Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)"
wrote:
I own a pristine copy of a volume titled "The Picatrix", published by
Ourobouros Press in 2001 in a limited edition of 1000 copies (mine is
#331). I'm doing an appraisal of the current value of this book, so I
searched Bookfinder to see what was listed there.

There are several copies listed, ranging in price from a low of $204
to a high of over $500 (the latter from a Seattle brick and mortar
store for a copy with a scuff on the cover!) One of the outliers,
pricing a copy at $430, was an outfit called "seattle_bookseller". I
wrote and asked why the price was so high, and got an amazingly
vituperative and abusive response, stating that this "WAS HOW THE RARE
BOOK BUSINESS WORKED" and that I "NEED A COURSE IN REMEDIAL ECONOMICS"
and so on.


Well, he sounds like a grouch. Smart dealers
have a civil and positive-sounding reply for any
question. He should have told you what a
wonderful deal he was offering. Maybe there
is some satisfaction in saying "That's my price,
like it or lump it," but all that does is ensure
that customers don't come back. Some
dealers have that small shopkeeper mentality
where they think it is more important to put
customers in their place with thngs like,
"It is my shop and I'll do as I please blah
blah blah," while to better business people
the trick is to keep people happy and keep
them coming back. That does not mean
letting people walk on you, but it means
explaining things in a positive way when
at all possible.

There is dealer in my area who got exercised
because I simply ask him if a paperback
was new or used. His store is basically a
used bookstore, so it looked to me like he
was pricing "used like-new" p.b.'s at cover
price, and I simply asked him if a paperback
was new or used. (I am not referring to
rare, out-of-print p.b.'s, but just trade-
sized p.b.'s that many used book dealers
around here price at fifty-percent of cover.)
It just so happens thatthis dealer
does not like that question, probably
because he hears it all the time. He insisted
that the book was brand new, not used.
Actually, I believe the guy, because there
other things about his business which
suggests he is a person of some integrity.
He is just an oddball type who does order
new books and mixes them in with his used
books, which most used-book dealers do
not do. Even so, I suspect he has driven
off a lot of customers by getting hot under
the collar regarding a very sensible
question. All things considered, he has
one of the better used bookstores in the
San Diego area, so I still patronize the
guy, but you have to walk on eggshells
in his shop because he will fly off the
handle if you ask the wrong question.

[Memo from the upstairs office.]


I was a little surprised at this, but a little research turned up the
even more surprising information that this seller is one "Luis M.
Arsupial", the same person who was doing business (kinda) as
"texas_bookseller" up until about six months ago, and who previously
created a huge stink in this group over some questionable
transactions!

This kind of pricing seems like nothing more than gouging to me. I
could buy two copies of this book for what this yoyo is asking for it.
I can only assume that he's doing business on a basis of relying on
his customers being ignorant and not doing their research. Based on
the listings on Bookfinder, I'd estimate the value of this book at
$225 to $250, certainly nowhere close to $430.

Is this a usual practice? Do a lot of booksellers price their wares in
the hopes that their buyers will be too stupid to know that they're
being asked to pay twice what a book is worth?


You can't blame dealers for trying to get what the
traffic will bear. In no way is that "price gouging."
On the other hand, many listings show that dealers
like to use "fantasy pricing." That is, when someone
has the only copy of a book of obviously some value
for sale on the entire internet, and he prices it at $400,
that may be very sensible. On the other hand, if he
prices his book at $400 and four other equally
reputable dealers are offering what looks like an
identical copy at prices between $30 and $50,
then the first dealer is not price gouging, he is
dreaming. Or, since you assume he is trying
to sell his book, you might say he is "pricing
stupid." But, I completely agree with the other
posters who say that "price gouging" is not a
correct term to use regarding the pricing of
rare collectibles.

[Memo from the upstairs office.}

(Apparently this "Luis M. Arsupial"--"marsupial"...?--was once known
as "Jason Christopher Hughes", a name which turns up a wide variety of
odd and amazing postings on USENET...)



  #7  
Old February 16th 07, 06:15 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 110
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

On Feb 10, 10:46 am, "Don Phillipson"
wrote:
"Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible)" wrote in
ooglegroups.com...

Based on
the listings on Bookfinder, I'd estimate the value of this book at
$225 to $250, certainly nowhere close to $430.


You may have a mistaken apprehension of the retail
market for genuinely rare books.


Absolutely true. When you are talking about a
rare collectible, the term "price gouging" is
inappropriate. On the other hand, good
business people develop a sense of what
the traffic will bear -- not so good ones price
more in accordance with their fantasies
regarding what they think they can get.

In comparison with
other goods (e.g. computers, e.g. mass-produced new
books) vendors cannot set prices in order to undercut
the competition (because these items are so scarce
that price competition seldom works.) By contrast,
haggling (bargaining) over price may be as common
as in some other markets (e.g. automobiles.)

We still do not know why you did not buy a couple
of copies at $250 and offer to sell them to this dealer
at $350.


Why waste time doing that? Assuming he is
like many other dealers, he probably paid no
more than $20 bucks for that book in the first
place.

[Memo from the upstairs office.]

--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)



  #8  
Old February 18th 07, 09:54 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
RWF
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 134
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

On Feb 16, 1:07 pm, wrote:
There is dealer in my area who got exercised
because I simply ask him if a paperback
was new or used.


Geez palmjob, after going on at length in about a million posts about
how smart and knowledgable you are, one would think you'd be able to
tell the difference between a new and a used paperback!
I guess it's true that self-abuse does diminish one's eyesight!

  #9  
Old February 20th 07, 09:11 AM posted to rec.collecting.books
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 110
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

On Feb 18, 1:54 pm, "RWF" wrote:
On Feb 16, 1:07 pm, wrote:

There is dealer in my area who got exercised
because I simply ask him if a paperback
was new or used.


Geez palmjob, after going on at length in about a million posts about
how smart and knowledgable you are, one would think you'd be able to
tell the difference between a new and a used paperback!
I guess it's true that self-abuse does diminish one's eyesight!


You are full of beans, as always. It is often absolutely
impossible to tell whether a book is new or "used, like
new." Yes, sometimes books do have that "never been
opened" look and feel. On the other hand, a great many
books have been opened, browsed, thumbed-through,
etc., right in new bookstores. Or, are you going to
invent a rule that states that a book which has sat
on a bookstore's shelves for a while cannot be called
new? Of course, the custom of trade in the book
business does not adhere to any such ridiculous rule,
as you well know. When a book has been owned by
a careful reader, it is often impossible to say from
looking at it whether it is new or "used, like-new."
Yes, you can often tell if a book has been opened, but
you have no way of determining whether it has been
opened by someone glancing through it in a bookstore
or has been opened by a careful reader. So, in your
pathetic attempte at humor, your are blaming me
for not knowing things that no one else could
possibly know either. You're really sort of dumb,
aren't you? A veritable dim bulb! 'Fess up, now...

[Memo from the upstairs office.]


  #10  
Old February 20th 07, 12:44 PM posted to rec.collecting.books
RWF
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 134
Default Unscrupulous Dealers and Price Gouging in Seattle?

On Feb 20, 4:11 am, wrote:
On Feb 18, 1:54 pm, "RWF" wrote:

On Feb 16, 1:07 pm, wrote:


There is dealer in my area who got exercised
because I simply ask him if a paperback
was new or used.


Geez palmjob, after going on at length in about a million posts about
how smart and knowledgable you are, one would think you'd be able to
tell the difference between a new and a used paperback!
I guess it's true that self-abuse does diminish one's eyesight!


You are full of beans, as always. It is often absolutely
impossible to tell whether a book is new or "used, like
new." Yes, sometimes books do have that "never been
opened" look and feel. On the other hand, a great many
books have been opened, browsed, thumbed-through,
etc., right in new bookstores. Or, are you going to
invent a rule that states that a book which has sat
on a bookstore's shelves for a while cannot be called
new? Of course, the custom of trade in the book
business does not adhere to any such ridiculous rule,
as you well know. When a book has been owned by
a careful reader, it is often impossible to say from
looking at it whether it is new or "used, like-new."
Yes, you can often tell if a book has been opened, but
you have no way of determining whether it has been
opened by someone glancing through it in a bookstore
or has been opened by a careful reader. So, in your
pathetic attempte at humor, your are blaming me
for not knowing things that no one else could
possibly know either. You're really sort of dumb,
aren't you? A veritable dim bulb! 'Fess up, now...

[Memo from the upstairs office.]


Good old balmy palmy, just making stuff up as you go along, as usual.
Palmjob, you cretin, I know you are a reclusive, anti-social old fart-
sniffer but even a moron like you should have enough knowledge of
human nature to know that if the book looked like it was new, the
dealer would charge you for a new book, not a used one.
You're really sort of dumb, aren't you? A veritable dim bulb!
'Fess up, now...

 




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