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Scammers, scanners and other unsavory characters

Good morning bookies!

So today a fellow writes to return a book I sent him. He asked previously whether or not the book had a remainder mark, I checked and it did not, I informed him, he bought it. In an email today he claimed that it did. I told him to keep it and sent him his money.

See, this is an old scam. Maybe I should not tell you about it, but I will anyway. In such a case the customer has a book they don’t want. They then order a superior copy of that same book, claim it’s not as represented and return it. Only they return the copy they already had, not the one they bought. And that’s why I didn’t want whatever copy this customer already had. Who knows where it’s been, I don’t want it around. Better to lose a few dollars, and that’s all we’re talking about here, a few dollars, than deal with such people or handle such books. What motivates someone to go to this much trouble for such an inexpensive item is beyond me, but it almost has to be a compulsion, as there is no real monetary gain involved.

As for the scanners, a better title would be Attack of the Scanner People. You know who they are, I’m sure. If you go to a library sale, or even sometimes an estate sale or a thrift store, they are the ‘booksellers’ holding a small electronic device that scans the bar codes of books and tells these ‘dealers’ whether the book has value or not.

Let’s first be clear about this: these people don’t give a whit about the books. They could just as easily be selling breakfast cereal, corrugated boxes or organic compost. It doesn’t matter to them. They don’t know anything about books and they don’t want to know anything about books. All they want to know is whether a given paperback is worth fifty cents or a dollar.

From my standpoint, I usually find them amusing. But a sub-set of these creepy scanner people are the Hoarders. They aren’t funny at all. This mutant life form goes up to tables of books, scoops them all into boxes until they have a huge pile, then crawl into the corner and scan them for value, returning at least half (usually) to the sale. The problem, of course, is that by the time they return those books, most of the customers are gone and the books don’t get sold to benefit whoever is holding the sale. Why are scanners and their users allowed at sales? Heck if I know.

There are plenty of funny stories about them, though. At one sale, a really spooky scanner person picked up a book, scanned it, sneered and put it back. See, the scanner only tells you the lowest common denominator. It doesn’t tell you if the book is signed, or a first edition, or any of that stuff. In this case, the book was both signed AND a first edition. Of Cold Mountain. Which I promptly bought. Poor scanner person. That book alone was worth more than the box full of crap they had picked out.

I mention all of this because there are plenty of frustrations with book selling and I know that you, my loyal readers, just can’t wait to read about them.




A short take


  1. Hi Mike- I’m glad that I could maybe help you with a scammer. They are out there, no doubt, and the listings companies never take the side of the seller. Makes it tough, doesn’t it? Thanks for reading the blog!

  2. Holy smokes, no sooner had i read this blog than a buyer for a book I had listed on ebay messages me.

    He states he had received the book he won, but it was not a first printing as I had stated. I suspected the same kind of scam you talked about Bill.
    Since I do my own auction listings and photography,albeit poorly. I know what the number line on the book was, and in fact included it in the description.

    I messaged him back stating that I knew the book to be a first and have yet to hear back from him.

    By the way, It was for a $5.00 sale and $3.50 shipping for Matthew Pearls first book. Quite a deal even if it was a later printing.

    Mike R – Nashville – aka vinyljeopardy.

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