Free E-mail Account: $70

The Houston Chronicle covers the booming EBay market in Google Gmail invitations. Hundreds are being sold for prices from $50 to $70.

There are even people trying to speculate on Gmail addresses: Bidding on starts at $250, which makes seem like a steal at only $109.99, especially with this can't-miss marketing pitch: "Looking for a subtle way to remind about feedback? Make it your name!"

I'm eager to try Gmail -- the threaded interface sounds great, and I want to see how it keeps people from using their 1 gigabyte accounts as personal file storage.

But I already have enough dumb Internet auction purchases to live down without paying $70 for free e-mail, such as my collection of A Reason to Love episodes on VHS from Nurse Betty ($300), two shrink-wrapped copies of Windows 1.0 ($110), six-digit ICQ account 122922 ($60), and a One Man's Family 20th anniversary collector's plate from 1953 ($20).

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