Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2006 Issue

Abebooks Reaches The 100 Million Listings Milestone

Alogo

Abebooks new logo released last month.


By Michael Stillman

In an October 4th press release, the largest old and used books listing site, Abebooks, announced that it had reached a new milestone -- 100 million books listed online. Abe noted that they reached one million listings within six months of going live in 1996, 35 million in 2000, and have been growing at a rate of 17 million listings per year over the past three years.

Abe now notes having 13,500 booksellers, a more slowly growing number, as some sellers cycle out while new ones join the crowd. Growth in the average number of listings per dealer accounts for the bulk of the increase. Abe states that the average seller now lists 7,400 titles, up from 6,500 a year ago. Based on their stated numbers, Abe would have had 83 million books listed a year ago, and with an average quantity of 6,500 books per lister, that means they had roughly 12,770 dealers last year. That translates to an annual increase of 730 dealers or 5.7%. As to whether this represents what is happening in terms of the number of people in the bookselling business overall is anyone's guess.

Abebooks also announced that it will be integrating listings from its Spanish site, Iberlibro, into the Abe site by the end of the year. This will add another two million books to the database.

Abebooks stated that they expect listings to continue to grow. CEO Hannes Blum is quoted as saying, "We anticipate that our booksellers will list well in excess of 100 million in the years ahead." Then, in an interesting note, he adds, "We remain committed to books and booksellers, and have no intention of moving into other areas." That stands in sharp contrast to their closest competitor, Alibris, which, after being purchased recently by outside investors (as was Abe earlier), announced that they would particularly target increasing sales in their music and movie listings. Abe and Alibris clearly have different strategies when it comes to business plans.

Abebooks did not reveal sales numbers in their press release, but hinted at them by saying, "AbeBooks has millions of customers who purchase up to 25,000 books a day from its 5 global websites." Note the "up to" and the inclusion of all five global sites. How many are sold on the Abebooks site alone, or the average price, were not stated.

While Abe apparently does now have 100 million listings, that exaggerates the number of books a bit. Some of the larger listers have evidently found ways to sneak in multiple listings of single titles, such as using shipping included and shipping not included listings, or slightly different descriptions to list the same title. Other "booksellers" are noted for being "re-listers," those who list other dealers' inventory at a higher price and then buy that other inventory up when they get a sale. Finally, there are the ubiquitous phantom "books-on-demand" reprints, where a dealer offers to print up a copy of some old book one at a time as orders are received. Abe has attempted to stop some of these practices, notably double posting, but this tends to be a cat-and-mouse game with those who violate site policies. These issues notwithstanding, 100 million is still a very large number, and we can safely there are a lot of books posted on Abe.

Abe also displayed its new logo in the press release. That new logo can be seen at the head of this article.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions