Friday, October 5, 2012

Why is Alibris still in business?

I don't understood why people buy books from online bookseller Alibris (pronounced “uh-LEE-briss”).  

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. At one time, Spoken From The Heart by Laura Bush was the top non-fiction hardcover book on the New York Times list. Walmart sold 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 was not even on the Allibris website.
  • The 9th Judgment was the number-five hardcover fiction book on the Times list. Alibris "partners"  offered it for prices as high as $24. It sold 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. The company says: "Welcome to the best way to sell online." I say "bullshit."

1 comment:

  1. I have been trying to understand the logic of these independent booksellers that raise the prices so outrageously high. Who would buy these books? Someone must be doing it because many books appear to be sold this way. Even Create Space via Amazon books are being sold to these dealers which I found surprising. I have also wondered are authors who use pay to be published book services know that these publishers are selling their books to these dealers? I suspect not. I would like to know if there is a way for writers to know how many sellers are buying their books, then reselling them. Great topic Mr. Marcus!