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The Joylessness of Online Auction Sites

The Atlantic’s “Sexes” blog (where I have previously contributed) is having some kind of epic battle about online dating. In one of the responses, Northwestern University philosophy professor Peter Ludlow wrote about the variable transaction costs in markets and how

  1. Donald Todd

    Might one suggest that there are those who enjoy the chase / search, and those who revel in the collecting / collection?  If there are still the shows that philatelists enjoy, perhaps you can gain that enjoyment still?  If everything is geared to the acquisition without effort, probably not.

    Certainly some of the tv shows display the people who search for particular items, haggle to see if they can purchase them, and then do whatever they do in order to turn them around for a profit.  

    Somebody is holding out on you who is not running a tv program or displaying a catalog on-line.  Have you considered ferreting them out and then haggling?

  2. genferei

    Nice call on the illustration – perhaps the greatest piece of vinyl ever created.

  3. Severely Ltd.

    My wife and I used to be a haunters of used book stores, looking for books by favorite authors or on favorite subjects. Every new city or town was a new bookstore. Not only are the number of used book stores dwindling, but everyone now knows the value of every volume by referencing the internet. The days of finding a pristine hardback by Richard Powell for two or four dollars are gone.

    Of course now I can find every book I ever dreamed of, if I don’t mind paying. Which is nice in some ways. And we still go to our own library of 1000+ favorites, many of which we haven’t read. But increasingly, my wife brings it up on her Kindle. And many of the out of print gems we used to burrow through the dusty shelves for are free on Kindle, which really takes the wind out of a searcher’s sails. So some good, some bad with the changes.

    Edit: Mollie, rereading your article I see I just echoed the points you made and substituted the word books for records. Ah, well, ‘strue.

  4. Owl of Minerva

    In the future, our children will dig through MP3 bins.

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    Wait.

  5. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Donald Todd: Might one suggest that there are those who enjoy the chase / search, and those who revel in the collecting / collection?  If there are still the shows that philatelists enjoy, perhaps you can gain that enjoyment still?  If everything is geared to the acquisition without effort, probably not.

    I think I’m talking about something else entirely. It used to be fun to exploit information gaps. With the wonderful advancements in info sharing, it’s almost impossible to do that any more. I enjoy my records and searching for them, but I miss those “finds.”

    Although this happened to me a couple summers ago. If only I can happen upon more vinyl angels.

  6. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Severely Ltd.:

    Edit: Mollie, rereading your article I see I echoed every point you made and just substituted the word booksfor records. Ah, well, ‘strue. · 9 minutes ago

    My husband, who has finally succumbed to the illness that ravaged our house over Christmas, has similar stories about guitar parts.

  7. Pseudodionysius

    And many of the out of print gems we used to burrow through the dusty shelves for are free on Kindle, which really takes the wind out of a searcher’s sails.

    The death of print books has been greatly exaggerated. In Mollie’s example, in your example and in the example of The Angel Art Academy in Florence, the sense of touch isn’t a luxury for human nature: its a necessity.

    Sales of fountain pens, french milled paper and charcoal are on the rise, not fall and the kin aesthetic experience of reading a hardcover with proper attention devoted to binding, paper selection and typography is impossible to match in an e-reader.

    The resurgence of the vinyl LP is due, in part, to young people realizing that there is a social and tacticle aspect to buying records that can’t be duplicated either with fragile CD jewel cases or by downloading music online and commenting, liking and gesticulating at their monitors.

  8. genferei
    Pseudodionysius … the kinaesthetic experience of reading a hardcover with proper attention devoted to … typography …

    If only publishers paid attention to typography.

    How many times have you seen the title of the book as a running header? Ridiculous.

  9. Mothership_Greg
    Pseudodionysius

    And many of the out of print gems we used to burrow through the dusty shelves for are free on Kindle, which really takes the wind out of a searcher’s sails.

    The death of print books has been greatly exaggerated. In Mollie’s example, in your example and in the example of The Angel Art Academy in Florence, the sense of touch isn’t a luxury for human nature: its a necessity.

    Sales of fountain pens, french milled paper and charcoal are on the rise, not fall and the kin aesthetic experience of reading a hardcover with proper attention devoted to binding, paper selection and typography is impossible to match in an e-reader.

    The resurgence of the vinyl LP is due, in part, to young people realizing that there is a social and tacticle aspect to buying records that can’t be duplicated either with fragile CD jewel cases or by downloading music online and commenting, liking and gesticulating at their monitors. · 0 minutes ago

    I personally genuflect before my monitor.  Shouldn’t someone come in right about now and make some asinine comment about buggy whips or some such? That’s been my experience.

  10. Pseudodionysius

    I personally genuflect before my monitor.  Shouldn’t someone come in right about now and make some asinine comment about buggy whips or some such? That’s been my experience.

    You may want to search out the praise that Antonin Scalia co-author Bryan Garner gives Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers. On the other hand, if my competitors want to lose proposals to me, I’m happy to let them do it.

  11. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Mothership_Greg

    I personally genuflect before my monitor.  Shouldn’t someone come in right about now and make some asinine comment about buggy whips or some such? That’s been my experience. · 6 minutes ago

    I was thinking of mocking the original poster with a “Get off my lawn!”-type comment, but decided against it.

  12. Aaron Miller

    Online searches often lead to unexpected product discoveries. That is what Google Ads is all about.

    What they don’t lead to is unexpected social discoveries. You don’t have reason to kick up conversations with complete strangers.

    Forums are the exception, you might say. But people generally don’t register with a forum for a single fleeting question.

    I’m willing to sacrifice a few undiscovered friends to save gas money.

  13. jarhead
    C
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    Donald Todd: Might one suggest that there are those who enjoy the chase / search, and those who revel in the collecting / collection?  If there are still the shows that philatelists enjoy, perhaps you can gain that enjoyment still?  If everything is geared to the acquisition without effort, probably not.

    I’m talking about something else entirely. It used to be fun to exploit information gaps. With the wonderful advancements in info sharing, it’s almost impossible to do that any more. I enjoy my records and searching for them, but I miss those “finds.”

    Those days before the Internet enlightened every bookseller were wonderful indeed.  It was a great day to visit a bookstore and find a bargain, take your book (in your case, LP) home, and feel like a winner in the competitive battle of life.  You just can’t get that same feeling in the antiseptic Internet when you hit the Buy It Now button on a book where the bookseller can gauge his price against everyone else’s price.

  14. Fricosis Guy

    There’s a point rattling around my head, but because I’m in a con call it’s somewhat half-baked. What Mollie describes is finding arbitrage in a mass production world. We live in a lean world, but there’s a hunger for the unique or high quality pieces Pseudo describes. That will be a positive trend (see the Maker movement also ) because it doesn’t depend on the educrats to inspire/train kids into the vocation.

  15. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Fricosis Guy: There’s a point rattling around my head, but because I’m in a con call it’s somewhat half-baked. What Mollie describes is finding arbitrage in a mass production world. We live in a lean world, but there’s a hunger for the unique or high quality pieces Pseudo describes. That will be a positive trend (see the Maker movement also ) because it doesn’t depend on the educrats to inspire/train kids into the vocation. · 2 minutes ago

    Great point. Also, I love that you’re Ricocheting while on a conference call.

  16. Fricosis Guy

    I will be crocheting on the next one.

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    Fricosis Guy: There’s a point rattling around my head, but because I’m in a con call it’s somewhat half-baked. What Mollie describes is finding arbitrage in a mass production world. We live in a lean world, but there’s a hunger for the unique or high quality pieces Pseudo describes. That will be a positive trend (see the Maker movement also ) because it doesn’t depend on the educrats to inspire/train kids into the vocation. · 2 minutes ago

    Great point. Also, I love that you’re Ricocheting while on a conference call. · 3 minutes ago

  17. Mr. Dart

    Around 1999-2003 I sold roughly 400 LP’s on ebay along with several hundred other items, t-shirts, tour jackets, posters, promotional items having to do with ’70′s-90′s music. (My wife never really threatened to leave me over the collection.) After the ipod took over the MP3 scene from Rio et al  the vinyl market tightened (from a seller’s view) and I stopped with about a thousand or so LP’s left. 

    I determined that it might be better to wait until a time when a few people longed for the warmth of vinyl as they tired of downloaded digital music pounded through tiny speakers lodged in their ear canals. 

    Your post gives me some ideas Mollie as I look at the stack of unreleased Kate Bush LP’s… one-of-a-kind Iron Maiden promo items… and a 25 count box of Get The Knack in original shrink wrap. Look, there’s that George Thorogood promotion-only LP. Wow. 

    The used record store might be gone but buying/ selling on-line is a tad more fun than clicking on a spreadsheet to get your music. And, Mollie, you get first look at the collection!

  18. Pseudodionysius
    Fricosis Guy: There’s a point rattling around my head, but because I’m in a con call it’s somewhat half-baked. What Mollie describes is finding arbitrage in a mass production world. We live in a lean world, but there’s a hunger for the unique or high quality pieces Pseudo describes. That will be a positive trend (see the Maker movement also ) because it doesn’t depend on the educrats to inspire/train kids into the vocation. · 22 minutes ago

    Mystic Monk coffee doesn’t just support Carmelites in Wyoming; its also the best tasting coffee you can buy.

  19. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Terry:

    Your post gives me some ideas Mollie as I look at the stack of unreleased Kate Bush LP’s… one-of-a-kind Iron Maiden promo items… and a 25 count box of Get The Knack in original shrink wrap. Look, there’s that George Thorogood promotion-only LP. Wow. 

    The used record store might be gone but buying/ selling on-line is a tad more fun than clicking on a spreadsheet to get your music. And, Mollie, you get first look at the collection! · 13 minutes ago

    Whoo hoo!

  20. Hang On

    What the author of the Atlantic article is saying is nonsense, both before the advent of ebay and after. The best place to buy 19th century covers has always been at auctions in large lots. It still is. You get the best bang for your buck that way and knowledge very much pays off.  Not all such finds are on ebay but in the dozens of auction houses around the world. My experience on ebay is that individual items often have ridiculously high starting prices and will never sell. There are also an enormous number of forgeries and fakes out there and you better have the knowledge to be able to know what is a forgery (a reprint of a stamp) or a fake (application of a false cancellation to a real stamp). I’ve seen forged stamps on ebay go for ridiculously high prices so the idea that “the market knows” just is not true. As for “finds”, you always have been and still are more likely to find them from dealers who sell in large bulk and do not have the time to break things down. They make their money on volume and not one-at-a-time.

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