Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2006 Issue

Google/Froogle: Is This Any Place To Sell Books?

A Google search for "History of Bill Yopp" finds just four matches, including one copy offered for sale.


By Mike Stillman

Antbo is looking for listing booksellers. According to their figures, they are already doing quite well. They claim to now have 5.9 million books listed by 529 booksellers. That is a lot of books and booksellers for a site that probably many readers, even those in the book business, had never heard of before. I come here neither to praise nor condemn Antbo. I know nothing about this German book listing site. I mention it only for illustration.

Perhaps counterintuitively, the online bookselling market seems to be expanding and fragmenting, rather than contracting. The general rule, be it cars in the early 20th century, or computer operating systems at that century's end, is a contraction in the number of brands. Competition drives out weaker players, concentrating power and survival in the hands of the few who are big and strong. In technology, pricing plays a particularly important role. Rapidly decreasing costs drive prices down, forcing the weak out of business, and concentrating all power in a small number of companies at the top, perhaps as few as one (of course, once a monopoly or oligopoly is formed, then prices may rise again).

For whatever reason, this does not appear to be happening, at least not yet, in the online bookselling market. There is a logic for contraction, especially for the poor book buyer. Having to search countless sites for books, or for the best deals, is an impracticality, even if you know all of the sites (and no one does). The meta-searchers, BookFinder and AddAll, can help, but not even they search all sites, and the many duplicate and junk listings (such as print-on-demand listings posted by some sites) do not make these sites that easy to use. The current system does not work all that well for either buyers or sellers, but for now, that is what we have. We have no choice but to deal with it.

Perhaps the large sites have contributed to this fragmentation, rather than concentration in the market. They have raised their prices to sellers before cornering the market. Usually, a vendor will wait until their customers are totally dependent to attempt this. Abebooks certainly antagonized some dealers with cost increases earlier this year, and while it does not appear that many sellers have abandoned them, it does appear that many have added to the group of other sites where they list. In some cases, they offer lower prices elsewhere, encouraging purchasers to buy on other sites when they are aware of them. Such price increases may add to the major sites' revenue, but they also encourage further fragmentation of the market.

This all serves as an introduction to the topic at hand: Google-Froogle. Google has been doing to internet search what the largest book sites have not been able to do to online bookselling - dominate the market. Sure there are other notable search sites. Yahoo and MSN in particular come to mind. However, when it comes to internet searching, they are, well... kind of like what Antbo is to bookselling. They are not in the same league.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] DAVID BURLIUK WITH ORIGINAL DRAWING and Signed twice. David Burliuk Rare ACA Gallery exhibition catalogue, undated. CA$400 – 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS. Text by Margaret Atwood. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, 2019. $CA400 - 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: SIGNED. LAWRENCE WEINER: POSTERS. Nova Scotia College of Art, Canada,1987. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: WILBUR SMITH: THE DARK OF THE SUN. Heinemann, UK, 1965. Signed First edition. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: ROBERTSON DAVIES: LEAVEN OF MALICE. SIGNED Clark, Irwin, & Co., Canada. 1954. 1st edition. CA$400 – 600
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [THE NOTABLE TRAILS LIBRARY]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: THE TRIAL OF DR. X; ROE V. WADE; THE GALILEO AFFAIR; THE TRIAL OF BERNHARD GOETZ… CA$300 – 500
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [MILITARY FICTION]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: Canada's Royal Military College. REVIEW, THE STONE FRIGATE, A HISTORY OF THE RMC… CA$300 – 400
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [WW1] CANADIAN (C.S.E.F.) SIBERIA 1918-1919 PHOTO ALBUM. With approximately 303 original official war photographs, photo-postcards, and personal photographs. CA$8,000 – 10,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: HANS BELLMER: THE DOLL. 1995, 1st Ed. CA$150 – 300.
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: FAN HO; HONG KONG YESTERDAY. ModernBooks edition, 2006. First edition. 4to. CA$300 – 600.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: TARYN SIMON: AN AMERICAN INDEX OF THE HIDDEN AND UNFAMILIAR. Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2012. Third edition. CA$600 – 1,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: BARBARA KRUGER PICTURE/READINGS. [Self-Published], 1978 First edition. CA$800 – 1,200.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    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
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Gonnelli:
    Auction 50
    Books, Autographs & Manuscripts
    March 6th-7th 2024
    Gonnelli: Cramer, [Picasso, Chagall , Miró], Trente ans d'activité. Starting price 4800€
    Gonnelli: Futurism
    Gonnelli: Avienus, Opera. 1488. Starting price 1200€
    Gonnelli: Vimont, Relation de ce qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France, en l'année 1642. Starting price 5000€
    Gonnelli: Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum. 1662.
    Gonnelli: Il Petrarcha con la spositione di M. Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo.
    Gonnelli: Poblacion, De usu astrolabi compendium.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions