Puzzle solved?

An update to An economic Christmas-present puzzle: buying books on Amazon:

After my three letters to Amazon (going back two months now) were ignored, the IEA blog seems to have done the trick as a very lengthy response suddenly appeared in my email inbox. I am now Case Number 1,461,552 which makes me ponder. Is it good or bad that the number is so high?  

So, what did the email tell me? Apparently sellers can set any price they wish, which is 100% fine with me. However sellers “are required to have the item in their possession at the time they list it for sale”, so the dealer who simply sends an order from his amazon.co.uk site to amazon.com for fulfillment is way out of line. It is a “community rules violation” and it has been so reported. I am glad to be vindicated on that front. This was not pure arbitrage at all in my book. 

On the bigger question of listings in general there is also good news. Amazon recognises my book as my personal intellectual property and on filing of a Notice of Infringement I can ask that only Amazon be allowed to sell my book at its site. So that will hopefully quickly see off these characters asking for two to three times the cover price. Puzzle solved?

There is a sense in which it is pure arbitrage, but the execution of the arbitrage relies on an uninformed consumer choosing to buy a book from somebody supplying at a high price when it is available at a lower price (unless the supplier has the book in their possession). Amazon, as the owner of the platform, has rules to prevent such things -and is entitled to – for the benefit of all users. This is exactly what stock markets used to do before governments took over their functions.

There is a sense in which it is pure arbitrage, but the execution of the arbitrage relies on an uninformed consumer choosing to buy a book from somebody supplying at a high price when it is available at a lower price (unless the supplier has the book in their possession). Amazon, as the owner of the platform, has rules to prevent such things -and is entitled to – for the benefit of all users. This is exactly what stock markets used to do before governments took over their functions.

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