Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2008 Issue

AbeBooks Purchases Chrislands, Launches Italian Website

Chrislands

Bookselling website provider Chrislands is now part of the AbeBooks family


By Michael Stillman

April was a busy month for leading online used bookseller AbeBooks.com. First, on April 9, they announced the purchase of Chrislands, a firm that builds, hosts and maintains bookselling websites for independent dealers. Five days later, they announced the opening of an Italian version of their website, AbeBooks.it.

Founded in 2001, Chrislands now hosts more than 1,000 bookselling sites. What the firm does is provide an internet package for booksellers who wish to have their own website. Their software contains all of the programs necessary to run an online bookstore. This includes a database to store listings and a search engine to find them, a shopping cart and secure order processing, and software that enables each bookseller to establish his own identity. Tools are provided for booksellers to operate their site without specialized computer knowledge. Chrislands charges a set-up fee of $199, and a monthly fee starting at $19.99 (depending on inventory size) to host and maintain the dealer's site.

This is hardly the first purchase by AbeBooks. Previous purchases included European online bookselling sites JustBooks and IberLibro, multi-site book searcher BookFinder, and inventory management provider FillZ. We asked AbeBooks' PR Director Richard Davies what the thread was behind these seemingly disparate purchases. He explained, "When looking at a possible acquisition, we look for three things: 1) is the company book-related; 2) is it successful; 3) is there opportunity for growth? Chrislands checks all these boxes." He further noted, "We are diversifying our business but always remaining close to books."

We asked whether any changes were in store, to which Mr. Davies answered, "The acquisition of Chrislands has been completed in a very similar style to our purchase of BookFinder.com in 2005." In other words, the short answer is "no." BookFinder has been allowed to continue to operate in an independent fashion, and Abe has not used its position to gain advantage, such as priority in results displayed. Davies went to say, "Chrislands will continue to operate as an independent business with Lance and Jaymes [Chrislands owner/founders Lance Christen and Jaymes Sorbel] remaining at the helm. Lance and Jaymes even consulted with BookFinder's founders Anirvan and Charlie before agreeing to the acquisition. There are no plans to change the Chrislands fees or offer discounts to existing AbeBooks' sellers. We plan to give Chrislands access to AbeBooks' resources, such as marketing, design and other companies within our family. Chrislands is already working closely with BookFinder.com so stores hosted by Chrislands will soon have the capability of including their inventory in BookFinder.com search results."

AbeBooks' second announcement was that they have opened an Italian edition of their website, joining versions in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and, of course, North America. The formula is essentially the same. AbeBooks.it includes 1.4 million books offered by 98 Italian booksellers. Books sold by Italian dealers are listed first, the site is in the Italian language, and pricing is in Euros. However, books from all of the Abe sites, now around 110 million, are displayed on the AbeBooks.it site.

Asked whether Abe plans to add any more such country-specific sites, AbeBooks' PR Coordinator Scott Laming responded that while the firm is always looking to expand to new territories, there are no specific plans at the moment. We also asked what determines whether Abe will expand through a new Abe site, or a Gojaba site, such as recently opened in Russia and Sweden. Scott Laming responded that this "is decided on a case by case basis depending on the projected economic viability of bookselling in the region, the level of competition, internet penetration, the postal service, and the book culture and used bookselling heritage." Where these factors are similarly developed as in the nations currently hosting Abe sites, a local Abe version is established. If not, it is more likely to be a Gojaba site. He also noted that AbeBooks sites are not equipped to handle languages not based on the Latin alphabet, so a country with a Cyrillic alphabet, such as Russia, or other non-Latin one, is more likely to see a Gojaba site.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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