Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2005 Issue

Alibris Eliminates Its $1 Per Book Sold Program



Finally, Alibris noted, "The new fee schedule provides a low-cost solution for sellers with distinctive inventory to participate and prosper on Alibris." This point becomes easier to understand if you translate "distinctive" to "expensive." If you sell one $5 book per month, you cannot afford a $10 listing fee. If you sell one $500 book per month, you can. Alibris evidently is pointing out that small volume sellers offering more valuable books can still make a go of Alibris under the new formula. If you are dispersing Grandpa's Civil War collection, you can take in enough to justify Alibris' minimum charges; if selling your daughter's Harry Potter books, probably not. Of course, this assumes that you have enough titles to sell something every month. If you have only a couple of books to sell, it is probably time to move on. Alternatives where a private individual can still sell risk free, since there are no charges unless a book is sold, include Amazon, Half.com, and Biblio.

What will be the impact of this about face by Alibris? We suspect very little. Essentially, it means Alibris joins Abebooks in making it difficult for small time sellers and private collectors to post on their site profitably. Not as difficult as Abe where the minimum monthly fee is $25, but still hard. We aren't sure how many sellers Alibris might lose, but the percentage of their 50 million posted books is likely to be negligible. No one will miss the small seller who posts ordinary material available from dozens of other booksellers anyway. The only real loss may be a few interesting books posted by private collectors. On the other hand, buyers will be spared dealing with a few sellers who might be "less than professional." It is an interesting turn, since Alibris attempted to make it easier for these people a few months ago, but for anyone besides these small sellers, the response is likely to be "ho hum."

The $1 per book sold program will be eliminated as of January 1, 2006.

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