Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2005 Issue

Alibris Bids Amazon Adieu, Adds "Search-by-Seller"

Once you place an item in your shopping cart, a small seller contact link appears.


By Michael Stillman

Alibris recently conceded that the end has come to its reseller relationship with online book and everything else giant Amazon.com. Last month, Amazon announced that it would no longer accept listings from "aggregators," other book listing sites which provided them with bulk listings from their booksellers. Starting sometime in October, Amazon said, booksellers would have to set up their own individual accounts on Amazon and deal directly with that online seller.

Abebooks, the other aggregator, immediately notified its sellers that the relationship was over. Alibris, a pioneer in such programs, went back to Amazon in an attempt to change its mind. Ultimately, Alibris earned a one-month extension, but that was all Amazon would grant. The result is that the Alibris-Amazon program will come to an end in November. In their announcement to their booksellers, Alibris pointed out that Amazon was their first partner eight years ago, that they had made numerous investments in the relationship, and helped launched Amazon's zShops program. That, as they say, and a dime, will get Alibris a cup of coffee with Amazon. Alibris also noted that it maintains "partnerships with dozens of leading libraries, retailers, and distributors."

Alibris then added an act of goodwill for its sellers. They told their members that they will prepare some tools that will help those sellers who wish to continue to list on Amazon migrate those listings, and manage their Amazon accounts. "We understand the value and importance of this channel and will help transition sellers who can afford to pay Amazon.com fees," Alibris stated in their letter to members. The tools will be available in early November and are offered free to Alibris sellers.

We asked A.J. Kohn of Alibris whether Amazon's decision was based on problems they were having with the aggregators' sellers or a simple desire by Amazon to exclude the aggregators from their sales. His response was a neutral, "I can't comment on their motivation." However, he did go on to point out that Alibris' sellers maintained decent ratings. "What I do know", Kohn stated, "is that prior to their decision, other aggregators had some quality issues. This may have reflected poorly on all aggregators in general. Alibris maintained solid positive feedback (90%) and a decent rating (4.6) across our 20 regional accounts." Alibris attempted to alleviate quality issues by offering to restrict uploads to Amazon to "five star" dealers, but Amazon rejected this offer. "In addition, we were unable to reach agreement on proposals to restrict the program to five star sellers and other measures that would have improved performance," Kohn said.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
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    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
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    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
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    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
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    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
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    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
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    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
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    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
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    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
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    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
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    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
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    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
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    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
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