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20 Apr, 2012
2012-4-20 11:00:39 PM UTC
There is a big difference between "submitted" ABE purchase and "accepted". Did the bookseller accept the order, then subsequently decide to cancel it? The only way to accept the order is manually, so that would be unethical to do so then withdraw the item due to "unprecedented response".

If however ABE took your web order, but the bookseller never confirmed it, they are well within the standard practice of selling through multiple channels, and having one beat out another before they could handle the response.

For example, I just went back to my email archive for my last ABE purchase a week or two ago:

First email (order submitted) subject is " - Your order has been received"

Second email (seller confirmed the order) subject is "Abebooks Order Processed: Sales Order #xxxxxxx" where it says that the bookseller confirmed and acknowledged the order.

Did you ever get the second email? If so, I would file a complaint with AbeBooks.
20 Apr, 2012
2012-4-20 11:13:38 PM UTC
No, I did not receive an order acceptance from the bookseller, which is why 5 days later I was already fearing that some such move by the bookseller before I received today's email from him.

I am curious to know how a reservation came to be placed on the book. Since ABE doesn't support reservations (so far as I can see), it would have to have been done privately. I can see no record of "A Spring Harvest" being offered on the Internet by David Southwell or Strawberry Hill Books prior to or even in conjunction with its listing on ABE, nor does SHB have its own Internet storefront or, so far as I can tell, a public shop. And besides, who would bother with a _reservation_ on a £35 book?

In any event, I probably have no recourse through ABE, but I shall needless to say be very careful to watch for any subsequent resale of this book on ABE, or mention of it elsewhere....

20 Apr, 2012
2012-4-20 11:15:23 PM UTC
That is a real bummer. I've had similar experiences (but with eBay) several times, but different circumstances. Once, I was quite excited when I nabbed a Lord of the Rings 2-2-1 with dust jackets for Buy-it-Now $100, only to be told shortly after I paid that the listing was in error.

Stuff like this is always frustrating and disappointing...
22 Apr, 2012
2012-4-22 12:13:36 AM UTC
Most likely someone contacted the seller with a better offer, but you will probably never know. Unfortunately these things do happen sometimes. Better luck next time.
22 Apr, 2012
2012-4-22 5:36:55 PM UTC
I don't think I've ever bought a second hand book from ABE without using the "ask question" function first (--this would be how anyone would get into contact with a seller privately.) I assume(d) this is the norm for most buyers who want to double check, or clarify, details. This being the case, it's not hard to see how this book may have been bought (or "reserved") privately in this manner.

I understand, Carl, why you'd wonder about reserving a £35 book --why not just buy it? Who knows. But there is a pretty obvious reason why a buyer would initially contact a seller through ABE, but continue communication privately. For a start you can ask the seller to discount 13.5% (or whatever ABE's commission now is) from their ABE price...

22 Apr, 2012
2012-4-22 6:14:19 PM UTC
We've had a few instances of ABE orders being canceled because the book was previously sold, but in all those cases, the seller also had a web presence or an open shop, or also sold by printed catalogue. None of which made us any less disappointed or annoyed, but we understood. We too looked up Strawberry Hill Books and couldn't find that they sell anywhere but on ABE. There certainly doesn't seem to be any way to make a "reservation" through ABE's automated system. Like Stu, we suspect that someone wrote to the seller, having found the book already sold, and made a private offer; or it could be that the seller, having seen the "unprecedented response", realized that he had seriously underpriced the book and canceled the sale in order to re-list or sell otherwise at a higher price. Although ABE's sellers policy doesn't expressly forbid this sort of behavior, it does require prompt responses to sales, frequent updates of the database to remove sold books, and maintaining a high standard of sales completions in order to be a seller in good standing.

Wayne & Christina
22 Apr, 2012
2012-4-22 11:07:54 PM UTC
Those were precisely my suspicions, reading between the lines of the seller's email. No way to know, of course, and no recourse.

So another "one that got away"....

23 Apr, 2012
2012-4-23 12:44:02 AM UTC
I had a similar experience a few years ago with a seller on ABE. They listed an earlier printing of The Hobbit at a very good price (<$30) so I ordered it immediately. I waited for over a month and the item never appeared. When I notified the seller they immediately refunded my money and stated that it "must have been lost in the post". When I enquired as to any tracking information they had to see where it had disappeared, I was informed that they had no such information. I suspect the seller simply returned my money and sold the book to someone else at a much better price.
23 Apr, 2012
2012-4-23 12:49:49 PM UTC
I'm still not sure why you're all suspicious that the reserving buyer came in after Carl. Since several members of this forum seemed to have received the automated response, & the seller stated there was interest, is it really that unlikely that someone had not already contacted the seller, just prior to Carl buying the book through ABE's automated process? And, that this was not just a query, but someone who had basically said "I'll buy it" (as opposed to "I'm interested..."). Perhaps they didn't like ABE's postage calculation, or wanted to pay by other means i.e. besides credit card --hence contacting the seller. This sounds perfectly possible, even probable. As I said, I don't think I've ever purchased a second hand book from ABE without having emailed the seller first. And, the seller would not remove the listing until the book had been paid for, I wouldn't think.

I just don't see anything unusual (or suspicious) here.

23 Apr, 2012
2012-4-23 1:45:17 PM UTC
I tend to agree with Khamul and indeed i have brought a book (Not this one I would stress) and I emailed to reserve it but wanted another at same time. The seller held it for me but then emailed me saying if I changed mind he now had a buyer -assumingly through ABE.
I doubted it but the listing had indeed disappeared via ABE.

I guess we will never know and i would feel annoyed it it happened to me.

You never know it may end up on ebay for £500 in a few weeks !
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