If Mark Judge ever imagined his books would sell for thousands of dollars, he probably didn't have the past few weeks in mind.
The author has become a reluctant public figure as his high school chum Brett Kavanaugh faces an embattled nomination process for Supreme Court Justice. Savvy sellers have tried to cash in on the attention, selling Judge's out-of-print memoir for hundreds and even thousands online.
Judge's '97 book "Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk," chronicles the author's struggles with alcohol, including blackouts and partying while in high school. The memoir recently emerged as a key talking point when Christine Blasey Ford accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a teenage sexual assault, citing Judge as an alleged witness.
Judge attended Georgetown Preparatory School with Kavanaugh and, according to Ford, was in the room during her alleged sexual assault. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied Ford's charges, while Judge has said that he has no recollection of the incident.
An editor's note for the book explains the memoir was based on true events but that some names and events have been fictionalized. Still, details such as a character named "Bart O'Kavanaugh" have fueled an interest in the book. Many have sought out copies for clues as they piece together a timeline of Kavanaugh's high school years.
Third-party sellers are taking advantage of the renewed interest. For instance, as we write this, one used hardcover copy of "Wasted" is selling on Amazon for $1,899.99.
That's a far cry from previous figures. A used copy in similar condition retailed for just 1 cent in early February 2017, according to CamelCamelCamel, a site that tracks Amazon prices. The second highest price for the book was set three years ago at $32.45, one-sixtieth of the book's current selling price.
Third-party sellers are able to set their own prices, according to an Amazon spokesperson. While the company does have a pricing policy for these sellers, the book's rarity could warrant higher prices.
Listing obscure used books for high prices is not an uncommon practice online. A recent article in the New York Times says third-party sellers range from big brands to entrepreneurs looking for opportunity. As one consultant explained in the article, "If I'm selling a $10 book for $610, all I need to do is get one person to buy it and I've made $600. It's just a matter of setting prices and wishful thinking."
So far, Judge has gained little from the renewed attention he has tried to shun. In a review published Tuesday, New York Times' book critic David Gardner wrote, "It is not even close to being a good book." He adds, "Judge isn't a skilled enough writer to evoke the complicated longings that alcohol can instill."
And since the sales are handled by third-party sellers, Judge likely won't receive a cut of these astronomical prices. Nor will the book be reissued. Hazelden Publishing, an arm of the addiction treatment center Judge attended, says it has no plans to reprint the memoir.
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