Sleazy third-party online booksellers

I'm beginning to learn about some of the sleazier aspects of the book publishing industry. For example: Third-party booksellers advertising copies in stock which are not, in fact, in stock. There are four such sellers on Amazon offering The Roofed Graves of Delmarva for a slight mark-up (in some cases the price is lower, but the shipping cost would give them a small profit). Collectively, they promise delivery anywhere between March 10th and March 20th -- in other words, enough time for them to actually order the book that their customer has already paid for.

On AbeBooks, my favorite site for used and rare books, a list of sellers advertises an astonishing total of 100+ copies in stock, many of them in the UK. In reality, I know from my February distribution report that only one copy was purchased in the UK (which is one more than I expected).

I don't really mind, and actually find it to be rather funny, but I'll probably shop for used books online a bit more carefully in the future, since I don't like the idea of paying a bookseller for a book that they don't even have yet.

- Chris Slavens

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