Since everyone now seems to be figuring out that the big tech companies aren’t quite the saviors they’ve made themselves out to be, I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon with yet another cautionary tale.

While browsing The New York Times earlier today, I came across an article discussing the fact that Amazon is now permitting third-party sellers to bid for the top seller listing. When users click on an item, the default “buy now” option may not be Amazon itself, but rather a third-party seller that purchased the right to be listed in the top spot.

I checked my books on Amazon, and sure enough, the default seller for my SAT Reading and Grammar books was no longer Amazon itself but rather an exceedingly sketchy-looking Georgia-based website called

In principle, third-party sellers are required to only sell totally new products; in practice, however, there’s exceedingly little oversight. There’s also a massive “gray market” in which re-sellers purchase used or overstocked or even counterfeit products to resell as new.

When I did a search for The Critical Reader on the prepbooks website, it wasn’t even listed. (The grammar books did show up, however.)

Essentially, Amazon has given top billing to a bare-bones outfit that promises next-day shipping when in fact it may not even have a copy of the book.

The Amazon price is lower, by the way.

Obviously, I’m happy if you buy through The Critical Reader; however, if you do buy new on Amazon, especially if you need very fast shipping, please take the extra five seconds to make sure that you are truly buying from Amazon. At least that way you can be sure you’re getting a book that has actually just been printed.