Every now and again I check availability on some of my older book titles, just to be sure the links aren't broken and I'm not leading readers up the garden path.
Imagine my surprise earlier this week when I checked Amazon for 'Men of Mystery', the anthology containing my short story Any Means Necessary, only to find the hardcover version listed at a staggering $9,999.63. Yes. That really is nearly ten thousand dollars. It's not a typo or a misprint.
I'm not even sure the book was ever available in hardcover, so what the heck is going on? The answer, rather surprisingly, turned up in a back copy of Dave's New Scientist magazine. Apparently sellers on Amazon use software to track and out-price their rivals, often on a daily basis. Seller A spots that seller B is offering a book at a slightly higher price than s/he is, so uses the software to set a higher price accordingly. Seller B's software then raises his/her price, so seller A has to raise his/her price again, and so it goes on. Readers of New Scientist had come across books, apparently legitimately for sale at quite ridiculous prices. One copy of Recent Advances in Epilepsy, for instance, clocked in at a whopping $59,780,802,831,736.00 - which according to New Scientist is "...nearly four times the US national debt".
I'm pleased to see that no countries will have to bankrupt themselves to buy a hardcover copy of 'Men of Mystery', but for any readers out there tempted to try to order it, I'd have to say I advise against it...