It gets better. There are whole species of other bots that infest the Amazon Marketplace, pretending to have used copies of books, fighting epic price wars no one ever sees. So with “Turing Test” we have a delightful futuristic absurdity: a computer program, pretending to be human, hawking a book about computers pretending to be human, while other computer programs pretend to have used copies of it. A book that was never actually written, much less printed and read.
That whole piece is a capsule of several weird things about book sales these days, including how authors give up control of pricing (as well as their margin/royalties) to Amazon. But, yeah, also copy-and-pasted-from-wikipedia spam books, being sold by pricing bots that don’t actually have a copy of the book yet, but if you place an order iwth them, they’ll buy the book for less than you promissed to pay, from someone else… who’s printing it on demand. Heck, maybe the software program that makes a spam book from wikipedia hasn’t even been executed yet until the first purchase.
We live in the future, and sometimes it’s dystopian SF, but other times it’s a cyberpunk parody.
Here’s another piece with more on Amazon marketplace bots automatically pricing books they may or may not actually have. (Is that sort of like a book futures contract?). I hadn’t been aware of this phenomenon until today coming across these blog essays. The comments on this second one are a good read too, including some suggesting that these amazon bookselling bots selling things they don’t actually have at prices determined algorithmically moment-to-moment… is actually pretty much how the securities market works.