As I write these words, there is precisely one copy — described as “gently used” — of The Hard Road to Renewal, Stuart Hall’s only solo-authored book, available on Amazon. I’ve noticed this mostly because my copy of Hard Road is among the books that the US Postal Service swallowed back in May, and it’s a book that I’m particularly keen to reacquire. I seriously doubt, however, that I’ll be picking up the copy currently available on Amazon. I do want to own this book again, but not so badly that I’m willing to pay $3055.94 for it.
I find it hard to imagine that this is a price that was chosen by some actual human being. The book may be out of print, hard to find, and (in the wake of Hall’s passing this past February) in greater demand than might normally be the case. But those are the sort of circumstances that might drive the price of a book that would probably sell for something more like $50, if Verso were to put it back into circulation (side note: to be fair, I have no idea if Verso still owns the rights) up to, say, $75. Maybe even $100 if some entrepreneurial seller thought the demand was strong enough. But a price tag well into four figures for a “gently used” out-of-print paperback seems like the sort of excess that could only be generated by some out-of-whack algorithm.