To provide an example: a bookseller lists a book for $100, a buyer purchases it for $100. The bookseller gets $95 and Abebooks gets $5.
0-500 books US$ 25.00 501-4,000 US$ 37.00 4,001-10,000 US$ 42.00 10,001-20,000 US$ 53.00 20,001-30,000 US$ 80.00 30,001-50,000 US$ 125.00 50,001-100,000 US$ 175.00 100,001-150,000 US$ 225.00 150,001+ US$ 300.00AEM: Do you have any statistics about the different kinds of books that are listed on Abebooks?
ABEBOOKS: We have a general idea, but nothing statistical yet about genres, specialties, etc.
AEM: In the past book collecting was a personal and kind of intimate business and passion. The dealer knew his customer, their collecting ambitions and their budget. Now, with the internet, book selling and book buying have become relatively anonymous. There is anecdotal evidence that the loss of connection between buyer and seller is destructive to the old collecting patterns while new collecting patterns have yet to be clearly defined and understood. What is ABE’s opinion?
ABEBOOKS: Since Abebooks was created by booksellers (Cathy Waters, wife of Keith Waters one of the founders of Abebooks, owned an antiquarian bookstore here in Victoria and is still in the book business), the company’s roots came from our passion for books. Abebooks is rooted in a passion for books and bookselling.
We’re happy to be unique and we work hard to keep our booksellers visible online. That’s why we post bookseller profiles, and continue to show the buyer the name of the bookstore that a book is available from. (This isn’t so common on other book sites.)
As for losing the “intimacy” of book collecting, we have found that in some cases the Internet has enhanced the search, rather than taken away from it. I’ve spoken with serious collectors who will do their research online, find their books, contact the sellers, then go to see the books in person. In the past, some of this interaction took place via the mail (and still does). So the contact is still there, and I believe the intimacy is too, but perhaps the speed has changed.
We joke that if we could reproduce the smell of musty books online, we would! And we’d love to have a “virtual cat” purring in the corner or wandering through our site!
We’ve also given thought to the idea that the Internet is causing people to close their book shops. We decided to look into this by speaking with our booksellers and found that in many cases the reverse occurs: by being able to make significant sales using the Internet, bookstores are able to keep their physical shops open and continue to pay their rent. We have especially heard this from booksellers who operate stores that are close to some of the larger, big box bookstore retailers.