If you want the hardcover copy of John D. Haefele’s book about Wisconsin’s legendary author August Derleth, it’ll cost you.
“Collectors who didn’t get in fast may simply have to get in large,” cautions literary critic Don Herron, who examined the book’s Amazon.com ranking — as well as the going price for the first edition — on his popular blog, Up and Down These Mean Streets.
(Hopefully Herron’s warning does not apply to friends of Allied Authors of Wisconsin, who learned about Haefele’s A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos: Origins of the Cthulhu Mythos back in August of 2012.)
While the quality of Haefele’s work is certainly first-rate, the higher-than-expected prices are apparently due to a pricing algorithm used by a network that connects sellers of out-of-print books (such as AbeBooks) to industry giant Amazon, which automatically kicks in to maximize asking prices based on diminishing availability.
Amazon lists both new and used books for sale, so the real fun began when the combined total of Derleth Mythos available dropped below ten copies.
As available copies became fewer, the asking-prices for those still remaining continued to double — like the stock market’s buying frenzy and pricing feedback loop — until the last copy either was sold or pulled from the listings, all within a few days. Presumably, sellers outside the network then made changes to the pricing manually, and copies from sites such as eBay.com disappeared too.
Probably the extreme prices that popped up at the end did not represent the actual worth of the hard-to-find book. But since most of these books have either been traded or are archived in collections, a first-edition Derleth Mythos is undoubtedly worth more now than anyone paid for it new.
And the price is likely to climb further. Since the aforementioned frenzy, only one single copy has turned up for sale online, listed at nearly $700.