Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2011 Issue

eBay:  Progress for Books from the Bottom-up

Ebay ss-2

Easier to follow controls

In the recent updates eBay has also made the format of the Account Summary page a bit friendlier with a concise list of options now stacked on the left side of the page. All in all a good job.

Revisions to graphics which make eBay ever more ready when buyers arrive, aside, the site is not yet easy enough to induce buyers in the book field to want to buy there.  The site is still mystifying, the eBay experience cult-like, the goal to induce you to sell your old lawn mower or buy your next engagement ring or car there.  eBay wants a ‘relationship’ and most book collectors just want to buy books.  Yes they sell old and collectible books but unless you know how to search efficiently you can get mired in trafe.  It’s nevertheless important for the field that they create an efficient and transparent auction market for books because, as I have said in other articles, an enormous amount of material will come to market in the years ahead and the only way the surplus will be cleared is through bidding.  The field, on listing sites, is frozen in 2006 while, five years later, prices in the auction rooms are falling.  The disconnect is obvious.  Much of the material has been listed for years and has gone unsold but as sellers near retirement the need to move the inventory will become urgent.   Sellers will try to send their best material into the auction rooms but much will be turned away as unsuitable or too common to warrant cataloguing and promotion.  All that vast quantity of unloved, unwanted, un and under appreciated material will logically head to eBay if they make the site easier to use and understand.  For the moment, even with the recent nice changes eBay remains a complex amalgam of art and science, always upgrading but not yet thinking of books as a stand-alone opportunity.    It’s an opportunity for entrepreneurs and I believe an increasing necessity for sellers.  For eBay it’s a logical opportunity but both Google and Amazon could also do it.

For today we can report incremental improvement in eBay’s presentation.  They have an enormous head start.

Rare Book Monthly

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