mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Why I now have 4 copies of an MIS textbook, or how I learned to love "reintermediation"

I took a summer MBA class second session this summer - it ended tonight, but the test was last week - this week was all presentations. So on Sunday, I listed my textbook on for $85. It sold in about 2 hours, telling me I had seriously underpriced it.

I mentioned this to one of the other people on my team for a class group project. She joked that I should sell her book for her and split the profits. I told her I'd give her $50 for the book. She accepted - her employer reimburses for textbooks, so it was pure profit for her. I listed it that night, and it sold the next morning for $94.

So I hit the ATM before class, and when I overheard a classmate complaining before class that the campus bookstore wasn't doing any buybacks, I told him I'd give him $50 for it. He accepted, and I had a couple other people take me up on it. I probably could have bought a few more, but I ran out of money - I only had $200 on me.

So now I have four copies of the book, - plus the two I sold, one of which was mine.

If I get an average of $30 a piece after shipping (because they are high-value, I'm shipping priority so I get tracking, so that costs a few bucks extra) and fees, that works out to $150 for the 5. Not bad for an hour or so's work.

It's kind of funny that people often dismiss the internet because we don't do everything over the internet - because people don't buy pet food online and because was a failure. But that ignores the fact that there were a number of e-businesses that literally have changed the way people buy certain items - Amazon, eBay, and being prime examples.

E-commerce people love the terms disintermediation (basically cutting out the middle man) and reintermediation (changing the way items are distributed, changing the intermediaries). This is a great example of reintermediation - instead of the local campus bookstore being the only source of textbooks, hundreds of individuals who sell on and Amazon Marketplaces are now sellers. Textbooks that would have sat in a dark corner of someone's basement because the college bookstore wasn't buying them back are now getting money instead. People who have books they don't need are better off - they have money instead of useless books. People who need textbooks get them cheaper. And people like Mad Anthony who are willing to take on the time of listing and shipping and the risk of holding inventory make some easy money.

BTW, the textbook itself is awful - it contained a number of factual errors, such as referring to Bob Metcalf as the founder of Netscape (Netscape was founded by Marc Andreeson. Bob Metcalf founded networking equiptment manufacturer 3com, and basically invented ethernet networking). It also had stupid gramatical mistakes like refering to "coffee beens" in a case study about Starbuck's use of wireless for keeping track of inventory.


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