Friday, December 17, 2010

Even I don’t think it’s THAT good…

I see that a dealer at Amazon is selling the (currently out-of-stock) hardback of The Last Superstition for – wait for it – $999.99. Ridiculous, no? Especially given that several other dealers are pricing it in the bargain basement $150 range (!)

Seriously, what’s the deal? I’ve seen weird prices like this before at Amazon, and I assume that second-hand dealers have some automatic, computerized system for jacking up the price on out-of-stock books. But who’s going to buy a copy of any recent book for a thousand bucks, let alone my little tome? What’s the point of leaving a book listed online at such a ridiculous price? Anyone out there know how this works?

Just to play it safe, though, you might want to have that hardback copy of TLS CGC graded, stick it in a Mylar bag, and store it in a humidity controlled safe deposit box between your copies of Vault of Horror #12 and Amazing Fantasy #15. Meanwhile, the paperback is available for a sane $12.92.


  1. It's clearly an Atheist Conspiracy to confound you!!!

  2. Those are drop-shippers, and they are apparently too stupid to realize that blacklists are developing that will enable buyers to know which sellers they are. Notice the 5%+ disatisfaction rates, they would be higher except that these companies "buy" their own penny books to prevent their rating from being even lower. There are a lot of respectable drop-shippers but they are not. I'm a bookseller, and I have to exception out their seller names in my pricing algorithms.

    By the way, I was referred to your blog by Frank Beckwith, and this is the best philosophy blog I've ever read. Thanks for that. Thanks also to the commenters who are making some brilliant contributions here. The apparent lack of trolls is amazing, although I suppose that could be due to some wise moderation.

    Merry Christmas

  3. Lots of different reasons can be behind it. Sometimes it's a typo. Sometimes small independent booksellers will raise the prices of their books to absurd levels precisely because they don't want anyone to buy the book -- for instance, when they go on vacation, so they don't have to worry much about a customer buying it and then getting mad that it wasn't shipped immediately and giving them a bad review, or because they think they have it in inventory but have currently misplaced it. Sometimes, perhaps, it's the same business model as Calvin had in Calvin & Hobbes: they price books higher if Amazon doesn't have that edition, in the hopes that somebody will just need to buy it regardless -- it only takes one.

  4. And machinephilosophy is right, of course, that some of them are probably just rather unintelligent drop-shippers.

  5. Atheists. Damn atheists are responsible for everything weird that's going on around here.

  6. I truly cherish my copy. But now when I look at it, all I see is dollar signs. I'm praying for strength.

  7. $150!!!!!!!

    Don't tell my wife! She will make me sell my copy. I love my hard copy! Love I say!!!!! Love!!!

    TLS best book on God & Philosophy ever!!!

  8. I bought The Last Superstition from the Book Depository back in August. It cost £12.25 (= $19) with free shipping. That's the hardback edition of course, and it must be a bargain.

    You can still get mint copies from second hand dealers at reasonable prices (in the UK)

  9. ^ I didn't make clear above that I bought a new copy from Book Depository.

    They don't sell second-hand books.

  10. I don't own TLS, but I wish I'd kept mint my copy of Aquinas -- surely it'll be next.

  11. A professional desperate to get his or her hands on some specialised monograph could well pay several hundred dollars. TLS isn't in that category, of course, but very likely the seller's pricing system doesn't do any kind of detailed assessment of the market value of its out-of-print books in order to decide the opening offer. It's easy just to find out the market value by starting at $1000 and, say, halving the price until there are takers. The fact that it hasn't noticed the paperback edition does seem to be a goof, but then again it's not hard to imagine that there are a number of overfunded institutional libraries which won't touch a softback even to save several hundred dollars on a single volume.

  12. I borrowed a copy from the local library. Maybe I should let them know they can make a few bucks.

  13. If you're looking for a book that kicks some atheist tail, David Berlinki's The Devil's Delusion is also pretty good.

  14. Dr. Feser,

    If you'll autograph my copy, I'll split the ten grand with you!


  15. I am so thankful for you, Dr. Feser. TLS introduced me to a tradition of philosophy and an interpretation of the history of philosophy that, had I not read the book, I would've never known existed, much less thought it to be intellectually respectable.

    Incidentally, I recently took what was supposed to be a "comprehensive," historically-centered semester-long course in the philosophy of religion, and guess how much air time Aquinas got? One day. Guess how much time Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche received? About four weeks each.

    Does **** like this always manage to get your blood boiling, or have you accepted it as par for the course in liberal philosophy departments?

  16. Ed,

    Even at that price, The Materialist Superstition is still a bargain! I've read The Beginner's Guide to the Mind, TMS, and Aquinas so many times that they're dog-eared. Thanks for introducing me to a whole new and beautiful way of understanding the world. Thanks for showing me the truth.

    Just a couple of suggestions for future books: an entire book on Aquinas' view of psychology, and a longer treatment of Thomist ethics, would be wonderful!

    Thanks for all that you have written.

    Merry Christmas!


  17. Dear Edward Feser,

    I must confess that I didn't appreciate the masculinized language of your book. Not only is it biologically inaccurate to designate all human beings by the semantic label "he," but, as was pointed out decades ago by the profound, yet unjustly neglected feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, there is more to this linguistic practice than its use of the masculine term as the generic one, for it involves an implicit and illicit valorization and universalization of men's traits for the norms of the species as a whole.

    Suffice it to say, this is deeply problematic usage, and I hope that in the future you will strive to implement gender-neutral language in your writings.


    A Concerned Reader

  18. May I suggest That's where I got my copy of TLS.

  19. Dear Concerned Reader,

    First, Ed will not be using gender-neutral language in future works. Sorry.

    Second, reading political agendas into offhand manners of speech is always unbecoming, and nearly always incorrect. Try examining the content instead.

    Third, I have yet to see any alternative to traditional pronoun usage that is at once a.) grammatically correct, b.) not pretentious, and c.) pleasing to the ear, all of which I appreciate more than political correctness. If you have any suggestions that would evade these problems, we would all be delighted to hear it.

  20. Dear Anonymous,
    Feser does in fact implement "gender-neutral" language, in which terms like "man" or "his" are unaffiliated with any designation of maleness or femaleness.

    I think what you meant to request was that he or she implement "sexist" language, that is, using such words to indicate a rigid denotation of one particular sex or the other.

  21. David makes an curious point. When she refers to terms as being unaffiliated with any particular gender, I wonder if she really believes that is either the historical intent or the general effect on those who are of the gender not usually referred to by "man". It's even stranger that she thinks using a word to denote gender specifically is automatically sexist, as opposed to gender-specific. Still, since she is woman enough to promote this, I suppose I can adopt her standards in discourse with her.

  22. One Brow:

    If "David" were another way of saying "Anonymous", your satire would work, but since David is conventionally a male name, you are just flouting convention to make a point. The point David was trying to make, I think, is that the tradition of "he/man" in neutral discourse does not imply gender. I'm actually very comfortable using "she" as the general person pronoun, but I would be an ass if I superimposed it on an otherwise obviously male referent, just as I'd be an ass for referring to a female by "he". Let's all just use "one" and "anthropoid", how 'bout?

  23. Codgitator (Cadgertator):

    An excellent summary, although considering the anonimity of the internet, and not being aware of the posters stated gender preference, I don't think you should ever say you can flatly assume that a "Donald" is male or a "Donna" is female.

    Let's all just use "one" and "anthropoid", how 'bout?

    Works for me, although my preference has been the singular use of "they".

  24. One Brow:

    "…considering the anonimity of the internet, and not being aware of the posters stated gender preference, I don't think you should ever say you can flatly assume that a "Donald" is male or a "Donna" is female."

    Whatever you say, lady!

  25. Codgitator (Cadgertator),

    Just to be fair to you, I'm male. However, I thank you for honoring me in that fashion.

  26. One Brow:

    I must grudingly ruin my own joke by explaining that, yes, I already knew that your clitoris was extruded like mine.

  27. I knew you knew.

    Didn't you know I knew you knew?

    I suppose the best way to sum this up is: Merry Christmas to all!

  28. I knew you knew I knew you––dah! Merry Christmas, indeed!

  29. Its alright for you guys, what about me? I lent my copy out. He's smart enough to be reading this blog. I'm never seeing it again - will have to order the paperback.

  30. I can see why big bad bustling brian lieter was so determined to denounce you and anathametise you. You're much more successful than him - he's finished and you and your family are only getting started.