Thursday, June 26, 2008

Very Rare Book

Some years ago, I agreed to write a short student-friendly monograph about a particular area of philosophy in which I work for a publisher that was planning a large series of such books. Well, I never really got around to writing the book and the series never really materialized anyway. Amusingly, the book was for years available for "pre-order" on Amazon.com. Roughly a year ago, it disappeared, and I forgot about it.

A few months ago, I was flipping through a few journals I don't read regularly, and found a citation to the non-existent book. The author included it in a "for further discussion, see...." footnote. Hilarious. This reminded me why I don't read that journal.

Now it has been brought to my attention that the book is once again listed on Amazon. However, it is now listed as available from a used dealer. The book, which was listed at roughly $20 when there was some reason to believe it was forthcoming, is for sale "used, like new" at $110!

So tempting.

13 comments:

729 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spiros said...

As long as I remain anonymous in these parts, it's all good....

729 said...

I removed that earlier comment out of caution. But let us hope that the blog post stands as a call for customer reviews of the work it mentions as a variation of the $500 Denon Cable and Tuscon Whole Milk type. (I won't post a review without your first vetting it.)

Santa said...

Could it be a bulking dummy of the book with just a comped cover that was used to try and help pre-sell the series?

Just for the potential of exposing fraud, you are almost behooved in a moral imperative kind of way to order the book so that no one else can be duped. At worst, you expose a fraud. At best, you have a one of a kind relic of something that is in itself a historical footnote for you.

Spiros said...

729:

Good move. Thanks!

Spiros said...

Santa,

I don't think this book ever got as far as that. I think they got an ISBN for it (hence it showed up on Amazon), and were waiting for a MS (until the whole series got canned).

But I do think that maybe the Chronicle of Higher Ed might get a brief note about this-- especially the citation. We all use Amazon as a kind of research tool at times (viz., to see what new books are coming out on a topic), but the responsible ones among us use Amazon as a way to find stuff to *read*, not to find stuff to pad one's bibliography.

Krinos said...

Here's a possibility, and one that would take a less confrontational tone: have one of your colleagues write to the editor of the journal that published the paper and ask if the editor can arrange a book review for your book -- since those writing for the journal find the volume so useful, the general readership should know about the book. Now the editor will wander down the garden path...

Spiros said...

Krinos:

An excellent suggestion. *Lingua Franca* used to be the forum for this kind of thing... I kinda miss it.

729 said...

Another explanation of what's going on with the used bookseller is simple incompetence. It could be that the book is one of your other very expensive academic editions, and the seller listed it incorrectly at amazon. It seems somehow less likely that a used bookseller is using the isbn for a forthcoming book and advertising it for sale, and somewhat more likely that they have some book of yours at hand and didn't get the listing correct.

Spiros said...

729:

Interesting hypothesis.

Santa said...

Spiros: Definitely a good idea contacting the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

Another idea is to contact the Publisher or Editor and alert them to the listing on Amazon. In case there was some promo material that someone decided to sell off, the publisher can at least do the leg work to have it removed form the marketplace before someone is disappointed or worse, more people use a non-existent book as a reference potentially putting words in your mouth.

I would think a book seller would want to be as accurate as possible to make sure he/she got the sale, so the odds of using the wrong ISBN by the seller seems remote.

The Brooks Blog said...

I would totally get the book....if only it existed!

Spiros said...

Brooks:

Thanks for including this bit in your Carnival!