Comparison Shopping for the Unaffordable
To address a small issue in the history of economic thought, I wanted to consult a copy of the first edition of The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. I didn't find it reliably quoted on-line, nor did I find it listed in the on-line library catalogue for USD nor in that for UCSD. So I thought that perhaps I'd buy a copy.I consulted the Used and Out-of-Print listings of AddAll, and quickly concluded that, no, perhaps I won't buy a copy. The lowest price that I found was four thousand, nine hundred and fifty-nine dollars, and twenty-nine cents.
I'm not sure who would pay that much, but the next lowest seller wants seven thousand, five hundred and ninety-one dollars, and ninety-three cents.
Another remarkable thing is the range of prices being asked for just that next seller. Through Biblio.com and through Biblio.co.uk, the price would be that $7591.93. From that same seller, but through Find-a-Book (listed by AddAll as
ilabdatabase.com), the price would be $7614.96. And through AbeBooks (whom I encourage you to avoid in any case), the book would be $7867.54, still from that same seller. There's a $275.61 range here, determined by which intermediate service one uses.
Now, even as I was writing this entry, some of these prices were changing; that's because the seller is based in London, and the exchange rate has been in flux. And that suggests that part of the price range may be explained by different methods being used to calculate a rate of exchange. $275.61 may not seem a trivial sum, but it's only about 3.63% of $7591.93.