More on Partnerships and Parasitism
The letters I received agreed almost in unison about the problems, but have many different suggestions about solutions. Here is what I think: large corporations who are also near-monopolies only respond to issues of a certain scale. One bookseller writing a letter will receive (as many of you have demonstrated) a non-response. The only way to move a monopoly is to organize.
I do NOT think that this organization needs to initially come up with an alternative book site. There are already alternative sites, both cooperative (TomFolio), commercial (Biblio), organizational (IOBA) that simply do not have the same customer traffic as the big A's.
What is needed, in my opinion, is a professional trade organization, an International Booksellers Guild, that, like a union, focuses on the conditions within the environment (like ABE) in which we are all working.
The emperor has no clothes. Sites like ABE are nothing but dysfunctional, hollow shells without our work, our books, our listings. Our challenge is to clarify our strategy and tactics and to speak as one voice.
There is a great piece from www.taforum.org, a British trade association site which sets out best practices for a trade association. I think it's about time we had one.
Renée Magriel Roberts can be reached at email@example.com.