It sometimes seems like crooked dealing in books began with the development of the internet, but of course we were clever enough to be able to cheat people in an analog world too. It’s just a lot easier now. We should resist the temptation to think Amazon’s the cause of this problem. It’s just that they are so big that it’s really impossible to stay on top of all the moles which need whacking.

Bookjacking refers to the business of offering for sale books you don’t own, usually at hugely elevated prices, and cashing in on the incautious book buyer. Once you hook a punter you go and buy the book from a legit site and send it on to your gull. You then laugh your way to the bank and deposit the difference between what you conned your customer into paying and what you were able to get the book for — which can often be amazingly large. There seem to be way too many people who faced with two examples of the same thing will assume that the one priced higher must be better than the cheaper one. This of course is occasionally true, but there are lots of dealers wiling to exploit this “fact”.

Rare and used bookseller Zubal Books gives us a valuable two-part rundown on the business of bookjacking: Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. (Link via a tweet from Neglected Books last October.)

How to avoid a bookjacker? Take your time, and don’t just click “Buy” on the first offering you come upon. The absence of an ISBN for instance may be a giveaway. The articles lists book dealers indulging in this deceit, and show examples of books used by bookjackers from a variety of publishers. Quite a few of these links don’t work. This may simply mean that the set up has been detected and corrected by Amazon. It’s not obvious how long ago Zubal’s posts were done. Needless to say of course, the scam lives on.