Searching for Out-of-Prints from the Buyer's and Seller's Perspectives
With our own online book sales, the sales results are similar to their ratings. We find that our sales during 2004 through these top five book sites have been led by Amazon with 60 percent, followed by Alibris (which includes Barnesandnoble) at 25 percent, with Ebay (including Half) ranging from 15 to 25 percent. These percentages include both out-of-print and current edition books. Some of our out-of-print book sales are through repeat business and by customers directly contacting us after searching on Google, as with our recent sale of our New American Cyclopedia set dating from 1857. With our ever-growing inventory of out-of-print books, we are considering Abebooks, although we would like to see several significant improvements made in their search functionality as noted. We could list anonymously through sites like Alibris or Abebooks which would include the Amazon Marketplace, but find it more beneficial to have our own unique identification for brand recognition, sales, and having our own feedback ratings not tied with others.
In addition to these leading sites, we have found sales success through listing directly with the lesser known sites, including Biblio, ChooseBooks, and A1Books. From searches done on these, A1Books was the only one where no results were found. I will note that the A1Book site has an attractive interface, with the administration sections geared towards the bookseller. From just listing with A1Books, we had our first sale there in a matter of days.
The results of my search demonstrate that some of the leading book listing sites do a very good job of displaying search results for out-of-print books while others leave it up to the potential buyer to wade through multiple pages of loosely matching search results. Booksellers should keep this in mind when listing with the various sites out there, while also making sure their descriptions are accurate, and be willing to experiment with the lesser known sites.
Carl Burnham can be reached online at www.SouthpointBooks.com .