Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alibris is a very strange company

On Monday, online bookseller Alibris (pronounced “uh-LEE-briss”) announced that its marketplace for new and used books has been enhanced in order to "empower self-published and mainstream easily promote and sell their books...through the world's largest online sales network."

I'm not sure of the mechanics of the operation, or the finances, or why it would be better than using Amazon. Alibris is exhibiting at Book Expo in Manhattan. I'm heading there in a few hours and will ask some questions. I'll let you know what I find out.

I've never understood why people buy books from Alibris

The company says it's "the premier online marketplace for independent sellers of new and used books, music, and movies, as well as rare and collectible titles. We connect people who love books, music, and movies to thousands of independent sellers around the world. Our proprietary technology and advanced logistics allow us to offer more than 100 million used, new, and out-of-print books to consumers, libraries, and retail business partners. Since launching in November 1998, we’ve grown to become the Internet’s largest independently owned and operated marketplace."

The company offers current books and out-of-print books. Some are sold by Alibris itself, and some by independent booksellers who use the Alibris website.

  • Alibris frequently offers USED books for many times the price of readily available NEW books. Up above you see copies of a book I wrote being offered for $37.57 and  $270.55. The cover price is just $15.95, and it's usually discounted 10% below that price by Amazon, B&N and others.
  • This book is not a fluke. Another book I wrote has a $19.95 cover price, and is usually discounted to $15.95. Alibris shows it for sale at $16.16 (used) and from $23.94 to $26.51 new. Some of the offerings are from independent booksellers, but Allibris itself is offering it for $23.94 -- much higher than Amazon or B&N charges.
  • Another book I wrote has a cover price of $10.95 and Amazon discounts it to $7.88. It's on Alibris for $25.57 and $69.61 (both new).
  • Bestsellers get a strange treatment. Spoken From The Heart by Laura Bush is the top non-fiction hardcover book on the New York Times list. Walmart sells it for $16.18, Amazon for $16.19, Barnes & Noble for $17.55 and Borders for $18. I figured that Alibris would charge about $25, but the book is not even on the Allibris website.
  • The 9th Judgment is the number-five hardcover fiction book on the Times list. Alibris "partners"  offer it for  prices as high as $24. It sells for $14.49 at Walmart.
Unless you are shopping for a rare book, I just don't see the point of buying from Alibris. There may be no point of selling there, either. I'll let you know.


1 comment:

  1. I think that these inflated prices are only designed to artificially boost website standings for the sellers. The more links, the better.

    One of my competitors has been posting his company name everywhere; even though he has only been in business less than a year, his tax textbooks show up in all the URL websearches, because he seems to be pretty web savvy.

    I started posting articles with my web address to various article feeds this year, and it seems to have helped my search standings, too.

    I mean, I don;t think anyone is going to buy a paperback for 205.00 when it's available on Amazon for $15, right? So why generate the listing, if it's not really designed to sell anything?

    There has to be another reason.