AE Monthly

Articles - December - 2007 Issue

A Look at Bookselling with Anirvan Chatterjee of BookFinder.com

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However, Mr. Chatterjee is emphatic that the relation affords no favoritism to AbeBooks. That, naturally, could be a concern as AbeBooks is one of the many sites BookFinder searches. In speaking of independence and non-favoritism in search results, Chatterjee says, "That was a very clear condition of sale." They did not want to do anything that would change what people like about BookFinder. "We bend over backwards to not show any favor," he explains.

As for the future, Chatterjee would like to see BookFinder increase its global presence. Reopening JustBooks and appointing a manager in Germany are steps to make this an international business. He notes that these days, an American seller with many German books can expect to be able to sell them to customers in Germany.

Finally, we asked his opinion on the disruptive changes to the bookselling business brought about by the internet. Chatterjee has a far more sanguine view than perhaps the average bookseller. He notes that the internet has opened the field to many new sellers, even if a lot of them are "amateurs." However, he does not see this as a negative. Rather, he describes what has happened as a "democratization of bookselling." Chatterjee particularly finds the use of commission based fees rather than fixed charges as opening the door to smaller booksellers entering the field.

What then of the traditional bookseller? Here is where Chatterjee's view may differ from those of many others. Rather than being at the dawn of change, or even in its middle age, he feels that the new market has to a large extent matured. "The biggest shakeout has already happened," he believes. "Most sellers have made changes." After all, it has been ten years since BookFinder began coordinating listings from various online bookselling sites. Those who have survived this long are the survivors. They have either found a niche or made some other adjustments in order to succeed in this new world. Therefore, he believes that most of the shakeout has already passed, and most booksellers who have made it this far will continue to be here for years to come.

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