Looking to attract used- book dealers critical of Amazon.com's plans to subsume Bibliofind.com into the Amazon.com system, BookSite.com, a network of online independent bookstores, is helping to launch, a new online used- book dealer network.
Bibliofind.com's original system of linking book dealers through the Web transformed used-book dealing into a formidable business. But since Amazon.com announced that it would take over all of Bibliofind.com's activities by May 7 (Amazon.com acquired the firm in 1999, but had left it autonomous), used book dealers have been complaining about added costs and complexity of the Amazon system. Now Dick Harte, independent bookstore owner and the founder of the BookSite network (www.booksite.com), along with used-book dealer Robert Moore, owner of the Book Depot (www.oregonbooks.com), also a member of the BookSite network, have launched UsedBookCentral.com, which they hope will attract dealers by imitating the Bibliofind.com model. It's an attempt to be new, said Harte, "by keeping things the same."
Moore told PW that Bibliofind.com was both easy to use and inexpensive. "You used a secure logon, got the info, pulled the books, processed and shipped. Now Amazon has inserted itself into the process." Moore said that for used-book dealers, using Amazon will "be expensive; there's a fee plus a commission, and the dealer has no control. Amazon generates traffic but some used books never sell. Our margins are thin, and now you have to pay 5% to 20% off the top. There goes your profit." Moore noted that other used-book sites like Alibris.com, ABE.com and others also charge fees plus a commission.
Harte told PW the site uses BookSite technology and that he was approached by Moore to work on the project. UsedBookCentral.com, which will do a mail promotion to 7,000 dealers, launched last week with about 300,000 to 400,000 titles listed. Harte is looking to get to a million titles or more as quickly as he can. "We're focused on simplicity and functionality. We're trying to build a dealer network. We think they'll find it easier to use and dealers will drive their customers to the site." Harte also emphasized that while UBC.com is run on BookSite technology, the two are separate businesses. "But there will be a tie-in between BookSite and Used Book Central down the road," said Harte.
The site is open to all U.S.-based dealers with a valid vendor's license. UBC.com charges dealers a flat monthly fee of $35 for up to 25,000 titles; $50 for up to 50,000 titles, and $75 for up to 100,000 titles. Searching is free and there's a wish list database where consumers can post listings for hard to find titles. And for the first three months the site is offering 50% off the fee to attract dealers to the site.