Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2006 Issue

Alibris Has A Sale

Ali

Under AddAll's


By Michael Stillman

Those who have been watching the listing sites may have noticed this past month that Alibris has been running a sale. Not a very large or very prominent sale, but in a field where such promotions and active marketing strategies are few and far between, this was an unusual and interesting event. Indeed, having spent many years in the field of direct marketing, it surprises me how little is done by the listing sites to promote sales.

Alibris promoted a $1 off sale for searchers on AddAll. The discount did not apply to regular Alibris purchasers, but for those who found their books through AddAll, a $1 discount code was provided. That may not sound like a lot, particularly if you are buying a $200 book. However, it applied to all orders. If you were buying a minimum, $2.95 book, the discount amounted to 34%. Not bad.

We asked Alibris' A.J. Kohn a few questions about the promotion. He told us that this was not the first such promotion. They have done them before with AddAll and BookFinder. They usually will not do the same promotion on different sites at the same time, but may rotate multiple offers. All promotions are temporary, but Alibris is constantly working on new ones. The $1 AddAll sale was instituted on March 1 and was set to end on March 31.

We asked about the success of the program. Mr. Kohn replied, "I can't give specific figures for this or other campaigns, but in general it's been successful. That being said, promotions will often drive order volume, but we're cognizant not to overuse promotions as a way to derive loyalty." When it comes to the expense of the promotion, Kohn noted that Alibris picked up the full cost. "Alibris picks up 100% of the cost of the promotion - this one or any other Alibris promotion." As for the future, he explained, "We've done this before and will do so in the future, further refining our offer and our targeting. There are some interesting ideas on the horizon for both offer and targeting, but nothing I can mention at this point."

As we said, this is not a promotion that will blow away the people hawking their wares on late-night TV. There's no "But wait!" to sweeten an already huge discount being offered. Nevertheless, it is a step forward in a field for the most part devoid of marketing skills. Certainly it is understandable that the listing sites do not want to turn their sites into bazaars of ever increasing discounts and ever increasing list prices to support those discounts. However, any marketer can tell you that a large percentage of the population needs to feel they are getting a good deal before they are willing to buy, and that is not easy if you never promote sales or discounts. Perception can be as important as the actual price, but there is little to perceive in the way of bargains on the listing sites. What Alibris is doing may not be major, but it is a step, and one marketing step forward in the listing site business is sufficient to make you the leader.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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