Odd vintage computer sellers
treen0 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 3 21:39:24 CST 2020
> I've been after a manual for months. There is one up on eBay for $520,
> it's been there for months. A few weeks ago the seller sent out an
> offer to anyone watching, with an offer of $399, I sent a counter
> offer of $99. I just bought a copy that turned up yesterday for $20.
I see the same thing all the time on Amazon and various other used
booksellers, it's a malfunction of using an automated pricing system.
My uncle has spent years importing college textbooks and explained it to
me about fifteen years ago, the system is fairly simplistic and sets
prices automatically based on other seller's prices. The sellers have
no idea what anything is worth, so they trust the automated system
rather than the buyer. One person comes in and prices an old manual at
some randomized, arbitrary amount in the hundreds of dollars (or a
computer in the thousands), and the entire market adjusts to selling at
that price without any human interaction. The systems then ignore the
lowball prices set by sellers who run smaller businesses and need to
move inventory or sellers who understand the actual value of the item.
This leads to situations where an old paperback about an obsolete
programming language gets priced at $455 and a half dozen other sellers
under-cut it by pennies.
If you want to see how this same sort of thing affects various other
markets, look into high speed trading firms.
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