Price Gouging in Japanese Used Shops

Only THREE days after Haruhi DVD 1 was released (July 28), Akibablog found a used copy of the limited edition version going for 13440 yen at a Trader store, almost double the original “wrapped in plastic” price (6930 yen). Even worse, the limited edition Asahina Episode 00 package was going for 14490 yen, a 200% increase over the original sale price of 4830 yen from its launch on June 23, about six weeks ago. I am familiar with the principal of supply and demand but this is absurd.

As you might remember, the same sort of price gouging happened in March when the DS Lite debuted in Japan. In the same article, Akibablog links to a post made on March 3rd with pictures of prices as high as 41790 yen in a Rakuten shop. Another picture shows that the same sleek gaming-machine goodness could be had for only 14000 yen, if you looked in the right place. BTW, the launch price for the DS Lite was 16800 yen.

Price gouging is a natural thing to happen when a highly anticipated product is released with low supply, sometimes intentionally. Recent American instances involving video games, mainly on eBay, include the Xbox 360, Phoenix Wright, and (yes…) the DS Lite. Now, upon hearing Sony announce at this year’s E3 Expo that the price point of a premium (read: the good one) PlayStation 3 in Japan would be left up to the retailers, I cringed at the thought of Japanese gamers having to pay 90,000 yen or even 100,000 yen for the best possible experience Sony has to offer. Rakuten has reportedly set their price at 75390 yen, including tax. The “basic” system will sell for 59,800 yen. For comparison, prices in the US will be $499 for basic and $599 for premium.

I know that the PS3 will sell out on launch day despite increasing consumer concerns about the pricing, so there will be some level of price increases in attempts to cash in on demand. The question is how high will the prices go before the retail supply is refreshed. We’ll find out the carnage (or lack of it) in the week following November 11th. Hopefully, non-gamers who just want a reasonably-priced Bluray player out of a PS3 won’t be tripped up too much by “open pricing”.

So, I guess the lesson to be learned (although I didn’t really teach anything…) is: comparison shop if you are trying to find used copies of anime or games. You’ll feel bad later if you overpaid. If you want discount, used, limited edition copies of Region 2 anime, Anime Jungle is worth checking out. I haven’t actually ordered from them but they seem to have reasonable prices.

Manga shouldn’t be a problem because those would be in a bookstore and books almost always depreciate in value over time unless they are very rare, like there are only 10 copies left of it in the world. If you’re in or near Tokyo, a good place to find rare books and manga is Jinbocho (as seen in ROD the OVA).

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2 responses to “Price Gouging in Japanese Used Shops

  1. That’s crazy. I guess no DVDs about Haruhi for me then X3

  2. Well it’s not really absurb. As they say, an item is worth what its purchaser pays for it.

    And unlike the DS Lite, you can secure a limited edition copy of Haruhi quite easily if you preorder online, so you aren’t really forced to queue up overnight along Akiba if you don’t want to pay the collector’s price.