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Long the preferred method of exchange for antiques and horseflesh, auctions are used today to sell everything from bestselling books to real estate, government bonds to abandoned automobiles. As sociologist Charles Smith reveals, the mechanical law of supply and demand rarely governs the auction process. Rather value is determined by a complex social process combining both the beliefs and actions of the auction participants and the assumptions and practices on the auction floor. Based on years of participation in and observation of different types of auctions and interviews with hundreds of auctioneers, Smith gives us not only a theoretical understanding of the auction process but the sights and sounds as well.