So I’ve never been terribly fond of Amazon.com for many reasons (they are a giant welfare queen, they put b&m bookstores out of business, the Kindle is disposable rather than repairable, … feel free to add your own grievances to the list).
But today I learned of yet another atrocity. In this case it is not really Amazon’s fault, though it is something they tolerate and apparently make no effort to stop. I am talking about “bookjacking” — the practice of using software to find books listed on one but not another book seller site (Amazon, Abebooks, Half.com, etc.) and automatically relisting said item on the other sites, at a markup. And by “markup” I mean a potentially huge markup. Though you could say “caveat emptor” and yeah you should probably shop around, the fact is that they are exploiting and hurting consumers, plain and simple. By automating this process, these phony sellers are able generate sales, and feedback, so that they look legit, even though they just act as middlemen and do nothing but run algorithms through the sites. A more detailed explanation of the process is here at Zubal Books’ site. Do not patronize the bookjackers identified there.
If you are like me, you occasionally purchase out of print titles. These bookjackers drive up prices and use deceptive advertisements (see Zubal Books above — the bookjackers use weasel words and ambiguous, generic descriptions because they are not examining the merchandise, they never see it). If you want to see what bookjacking looks like for RPG titles, see this listing (it will no doubt change over time but as of this writing there are listings for the Judges Guild “Dark Tower” module with prices all ranging from $115 to over $325, and all the conditions are blank or generic BS like this: “Item may show signs of shelf wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. Includes supplemental or companion materials if applicable. Access codes may or may not work. Connecting readers since 1972. Customer service is our top priority.” (emphasis added)
<Update!> A colleague suggested another way to check if a seller is bookjacking:
Check to see if they offer expedited shipping. They cannot because they do not have the book in hand. This also applies to a seller supplying a print on demand title. In addition, this will separate out sellers who allegedly are located in the US but ship from the UK–or Norway or India or wherever.