AE Monthly

Articles - December - 2004 Issue

Biblio, Bibliopoly, Bibliophile: Just Who Are These B's?

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Biblio provides some suggestions, but lets you find what you want.


Biblio. Here's a listing site that has been flying below many people's radar screen for awhile, and yet it has been making steady progress where you might think there is no room. Biblio claims to now have 12 million books from over 2,100 different dealers listed. A search for Innocents Abroad confirms their claims as it locates 186 matches. They range from a paperback in fair condition for $2.50, to four first editions at prices from $855 to $8,500 (as an aside, there seems little reason justify any price spread, let alone one of this magnitude, between copies).

So how does a site like this hope to survive, let alone prosper, against the giants in this field? The folks at Biblio are no fools. They understand there's a lot of resentment from the booksellers toward the big sites. Their prices have gone up and, real or imagined, many dealers feel their quality of service has gone down. Perhaps there's nothing a large company can do to make its small suppliers feel appreciated, or maybe the large sites aren't trying very hard. I don't know. Whatever it is, one only has to read the appropriate message boards to realize that many dealers do not feel loved. They feel abused, ignored, unimportant, but also dependent on the large sites. They wish these sites showed more sympathy and understanding toward their small businesses. Into this void steps kinder and gentler Biblio. They are attempting to provide the type of service and pricing booksellers want along with a convenient, easy to use site buyers like. All indications are they are doing both quite well. As a smaller site, the challenge will be to generate the number of listings and brand familiarity necessary to bring in the quantity of customers needed to make the site a financial success for its dealers.

Speaking about Biblio's major used books competitors, Abebooks and Alibris, Marketing Director Kevin Donaldson comments "they are making inroads to new book sales, and they are of course the main providers to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and they are making it harder and less lucrative to be an independent bookseller on their sites. This really isn't focus at all." Biblio focuses just on used books, and on keeping their booksellers happy. They charge a 15% commission, which drops to 7.5% when certain low monthly minimums are met, and no listing fees. This is a structure likely to meet with the approval of most booksellers. From a consumer's point of view, their searches are easy to use and the results are displayed in an easy to follow, logical (price order) format. Biblio may be a "B" for size, but give them an "A" for presentation and focus on their mission.

Here's the link to the Biblio website: www.biblio.com


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