Many booksellers on Amazon strive to sell their wares as cheaply as possible. That, after all, is usually how you make a sale in a competitive marketplace. Other merchants favor a counterintuitive approach: Mark the price up to the moon. From a report: "Zowie," the romance author Deborah Macgillivray wrote on Twitter last month after she discovered copies of her 2009 novel, "One Snowy Knight," being offered for four figures. One was going for "$2,630.52 & FREE Shipping," she noted. Since other copies of the paperback were being sold elsewhere on Amazon for as little as 99 cents, she was perplexed. "How many really sell at that price? Are they just hoping to snooker some poor soul?" Ms. Macgillivray wrote in an email. She noted that her blog had gotten an explosion in traffic from Russia. "Maybe Russian hackers do this in their spare time, making money on the side," she said. Amazon is by far the largest marketplace for both new and used books the world has ever seen, and is also one of the most inscrutable. The retailer directly sells some books, while others are sold by third parties. The wild pricing happens with the latter. [...] Third-party sellers, Guru Hariharan, chief executive of Boomerang Commerce, said, come in all shapes and sizes -- from well-respected national brands that are trying to maintain some independence from Amazon to entrepreneurial individuals who use Amazon's marketplace as an arbitrage opportunity. These sellers list products they have access to, adjusting price and inventory to drive profits. Then there are the wild pricing specialists, who sell both new and secondhand copies. "By making these books appear scarce, they are trying to justify the exorbitant price that they have set," said Mr. Hariharan, who led a team responsible for 15,000 online sellers when he worked at Amazon a decade ago. [...] A decade ago, Elisabeth Petry wrote a tribute to her mother, the renowned novelist Ann Petry. "At Home Inside," published by the University of Mississippi Press, is now out of print, but late last week secondhand copies were for sale on Amazon. A discarded library copy was $1,900. One seller offered two copies, each for $1,967, although only one was described as "Nice!" All these were a bargain compared with the copy that cost $2,464.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.