Thursday, August 07, 2008

ABEbooks: is now A for Amazon, B for Bought and E for Emerican

The following article excerpt is from Quill and Quire:

Abebooks says it will operate completely separately from Amazon
August 6, 2008 6:28 PM By Scott MacDonald

The Victoria-based online used book site has been bought by the U.S. online retail giant Amazon – but a company rep insists that it’s business as usual. “The two businesses and their respective databases of book listings are not going to be combined, and Abebooks will continue to operate independently,” Abebooks publicity manager Richard Davies told Q&Q Omni via e-mail. He went on to say that the company will continue to operate out of Victoria and that there will be no staffing changes of any kind.This means that indie booksellers who are currently Abebooks members won’t necessarily get greater access to the Amazon market. Amazon, though, will get a bigger piece of the used book market, which one antiquarian bookseller – Stephen Fowler, owner of the Monkey’s Paw in Toronto – posited as one possible reason for the purchase. “Qualified, respectable, responsible booksellers tend to use Abebooks, whereas less established, less professional sellers – guys who just have a closet full of books – tend to [sell their books on] Amazon,” argues Fowler.

You might expect used booksellers to be wary of supporting one of their biggest competitors, but some had already become disenchanted with Abebooks following the company’s decision earlier this year to charge a commission on members’ shipping fees. “I can’t imagine how [Amazon] could have any more of a negative impact,” says Donald Smith, a longtime employee of Toronto’s Atticus Books, calling the shipping commission “a low blow.” Halifax bookseller John W. Doull has been listing less of his stock on the Abebooks site these days, but says the firm’s market reach is still hard to dismiss. “I have to sell the silly books somewhere, and the competing sites aren’t as good or are just a little harder to use.”Smith agrees, explaining that about 70% of Atticus’s business comes through Abebooks. “They are the most active player in the market, and I don’t think we could do as well with any of the other competing portals. None of them has the profile that Abebooks has.”

Founded in 1995, Abebooks has grown steadily over the past several years, acquiring or establishing related bookselling sites in several international markets.

Read the rest here (but unfortunately, only if you have a subscription to the Quill and Quire Omni)