Sunday, March 04, 2007

Amazon Marketplace

As I describe on my other, author blog, when one of my novels went out of print, I printed a revised edition myself. The other day I looked it up on Amazon Marketplace, the place where second-hand books are sold. There were copies of this revised edition being sold there as new. NEW? That's odd, I thought: the new copies are on Amazon Advantage, the facility for publishers, and apart from that it's only I, as the publisher, who have new copies, and those bookshops which have ordered it from me. I looked closer. One of the Amazon Marketplace sellers describes their copy of my book as 'sourced direct from the publisher': it seems that some of those Gardners orders were for bookshops or companies selling through the net.

In his Guardian Bookseller column yesterday Joel Rickett comments on the threat which publishers see Amazon Marketplace as posing:
...there are now hundreds of small companies specialising in importing books, or even finding them in charity shops and posting them up. They are able to offer such low prices because of the standard £2.75 charged for UK postage, of which they receive £2.26 - much more than it costs to post an average book through the Royal Mail. Publishers are convinced that the Marketplace option eats away at their sales, but it has so far been impossible to discern by how much. A new piece of research shows how popular the service is among students: nearly 29% of students bought their last secondhand course book from Marketplace, compared to 12% from their university bookshop. Many of them will also re-sell those books via the site; that's the kind of perpetual exchange that gives publishers nightmares.
In the same paper yesterday, Stephen Page argued that it is only by embracing the opportunities for publishing and marketing offered by the net that publishers will be able to combat such threats.

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