In a bizarre case of trading rivalry, an out of print book, but definitely not an antique piece, was priced at an astonishing amount of $23.6 million on Amazon.com that shocked quite a few.
The book, The Making of a Fly: The Genetics of Animal Design by Peter A Lawrence was the one that found itself in this rather weird situation, reportedly caused by an algorithm used by third party merchants "profnath" and "bordeebook", on the trading site Amazon.
The matter came into light only when Michael Eisen, an evolutionary biologist at UC Berkeley went onto buy an extra copy of the book for his lab.
According to a blog post by Eisen, when he first visited the site, there were a total of 17 available pieces amongst which 15 were used. He said that the used ones, at his first observation were priced at $35.54, while the new ones were priced at $1,730,045.91 (plus $3.99 for shipping).
But after that, every time he visited the site, the prices kept on going up by a huge margin.
Apparently both "profnath" and "bordeebook", or at least one of them was using a too-simple-for-the purpose algorithm to set up the prices of their products on the online trading platform, eventually resulting in this total mess-up.
Eisen said in his post (opens in new tab), “clearly at least one of the sellers was setting their price algorithmically in response to changes in the other’s price. I continued to watch carefully and the full pattern emerged”.