Amazon Error Arbitrage?

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I recently went looking for some Coltrane music to add to my collection, I guess prompted by this review which highly recommended First Meditations. This was recorded by the classic "Love Supreme" quartet, before it broke up and the tracks were re-recorded with Pharoah Sanders' primeval additions. It was not authorised for release by John Coltrane himself but later released by his wife. Since Love Supreme is one of my all time favourites (and I don't normally do favourites) it had to be worth listening to another recording by this band at the peak of their creativity.
When searching on Amazon I discovered the disc was surprisingly expensive at £25, but then I noticed that a disc with the same title, same artwork but listed under Alice Coltrane was much cheaper. Taking the chance, and since I like Alice Coltrane's work in any case, I placed an order.  

I did indeed receive the John Coltrane disc. It's an understandable error, Alice Coltrane was John's wife and probably authorised the First Meditations release, but it is obviously a John Coltrane album. I thought Alice Coltrane is likely to be a much less popular artist than John Coltrane but in general her sales ranking is actually pretty good, perhaps John Coltrane's sales ranking is diluted by the scale of his output. Instead it is likely that the erroneously listed discs are simply not found by buyers  and hence get priced down. Good news for me - and the many other Coltrane fans who have spotted the same error, especially as there are at least 6 other John Coltrane albums erroneously listed.

So I started to wonder how many other errors are in Amazon's system and what the opportunity for arbitrage is here? With First Meditations there is a spread of nearly 300% on offer.

And yes, First Meditations is an excellent album.

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This page contains a single entry by David published on March 12, 2008 1:09 AM.

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