Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2006 Issue

More on Partnerships and Parasitism

Tradeforum

Would a trade association help booksellers?


by Renée Magriel Roberts

Well, looks like my last article (June AE Monthly) on partnerships and parasites struck a nerve. My mailbox was flooded with emails from booksellers (none from selling websites, no big surprise) and virtually 100% along the same lines. Here is a sampler:

There were the wishful thinkers: "Hannes Blum ... may learn something if he reads this article..."; "I used to feel like we were partners ... and I tried to act like we were partners." "I wish Amazon, Alibris and ABE would read it [the article] and take it all to heart." "I hope a lot of folks read your article and get really ticked off and jump ABE's ship for at least six months. Wouldn't that create a cash crisis in THEIR court?" "I hope your article will influence the mega book sites to change their 'parasitic' practices."

The self-doubters: "I too am at the point of wondering why I do this [bookselling]".

The just plain angry: "Nothing makes me madder than paying 1.5-2% more for someone else to process the credit card transaction than I would pay; trying and failing to quickly figure out if I'm being paid for what I've shipped...the accounting is in pig Latin." "It seems as though ABE is for ABE only and we [booksellers] are tolerated as a necessary evil." "The big A sites are no place for honest bookdealers who know anything about used/antiquarian books." "I have no interest in paying some entity, particularly a foreign company, to run my business." "The last change has left me still angrier [ABE taking over credit card processing]. I HAD/HAVE no security problems related to credit card processing." "I no longer intend to work for nothing and give all my profits to ABE." "It seems to me that once you have reached a critical size in a corporation (ABE) that other influences take over (greed) and it has no guilt and can justify anything."

The commiserators: "It's exactly how I feel about the websites, but I couldn't have put it in words like you just did..." "My sentiments exactly, and many others too." "Every professional bookseller I know feels the same way". "So many of us feel exactly the way you do." "AMEN!!" "You have identified the revolting aspects of ABE's operation and pinned them nicely into an insect display case, where they belong."

The psychics (or maybe I'm the psychic): "Thanks for sharing my exact opinion on all you discussed".

The Dr. Phil stand-ins: "It is not necessary to remain in an abusive relationship". "Remember what Dr. Phil always says -- we teach people how to treat us."

Rare Book Monthly

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