Tuesday, May 3, 2011

That book costs HOW much??!!

True Story:

In early April a graduate student was searching for a copy of this genetics text:

Upon searching for the book, and then locating it on Amazon, the researcher was stunned to find that the book was listed at well over a million dollars! The list price was $70.00 and the book was out print, but not rare. The tome should have commanded a price of somewhere in the neighborhood of $100.

Here's the screenshot from Amazon on the day this was noticed:

The student was curious and tracked the prices over the next several days:
Some good questions that arise from this:

  • How are these two booksellers determining thier new price each day?
  • What is a function that represents Bordeebook's price for this text d days after April 8th
  • How long had this pricing spiral been going on before it was discovered?
  • Why does Bordeebooks seem to be intentionally setting its price higher than Profnath each day?

Credit where credit is due...
(warning following these links will lead to answers to many of the above questions and may take away some of the fun you would have thinking for yourself!)

The original post about the discovery was on this blog written by Michael Eisen.

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