My day job, the one with benefits and a pension plan and lunch break (thank you all my union brothers and sisters who went before!) involves finding and ordering out of print (OOP) books. Sometimes they are meant as new additions to our library, sometimes they are replacements for lost, damaged or stolen books from the shelves.
The used book market is irrational, and moving online has made it even less rational. I have a couple of potted speeches on the subject, which I'll spare you this time.
Anyway, one result of the ability to search online is that anyone who has a book for sale, and sees no other copies available, decides that his copy is thus immensely valuable. Books that in the snail-mail market might have been priced at $5 or $20 soar now to $400 or $600. Plus shipping. And this is often for ex-lib or student-owned copies, full of hi-liter and pen marks, which a reputable bookseller probably wouldn't even carry.
So I was mildly amused today when I was asked to discover the real replacement cost for a science text someone had lost (from my own student background I'm inclined to call that 'lost'). The standard replacement cost is something like $50, meant to encourage the student to actually look through the piles of laundry and pizza boxes for the book. What was the real replacement cost of this particular book? Well, if the two copies on offer were real and not megalister vapourware, not less than $500 before shipping.
Want to bet that the lost book will show up soonish?