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Alibris Receives Funding from Ingram
Steven M. Zeitchik -- 4/17/00

Used-book dealer Alibris, which, with a Barnes&Noble.com deal already has its tentacles in the traditional book-selling world, announced a $30-million investment from Ingram Book Group and CMGI@Ventures last week. The news comes after months of reports that Ingram would help fund the company, which is based in San Francisco, Calif. The deal deepens the relationship Alibris has with Ingram, under which Alibris titles are listed on iPage, Ingram's online database.

The money should help Alibris in two critical ways, according to CEO Martin Manley: international expansion and technology. The company "aspires to make it easy for dealers and librarians to get books from other countries" as well as make the Alibris name known to foreign customers. It could, Manley said, eventually open a U.K.-based Web site.

The relationship with Ingram, Manley continued, helps in terms of capital, "But the most valuable thing John Ingram brings is himself." Ingram sits on the Alibris board.

Alibris lists books from antiquarian dealers on its site, warehouses and then ships them. It has recently faced a backlash from some dealers concerned that the listings make them too anonymous.

Manley told PW he understands these issues and is taking steps to eliminate the problem, perhaps by making the bricks-and-mortar presences of the dealers more known to customers through bookmarks and other promotional materials. He said the backlash hasn't affected his business "because we have more dealers than we know what to do with." The company's dealers number "in the thousands."

Ingram and Alibris have said in the past that Ingram's warehousing capabilities and burgeoning on-demand operation fit snugly with Alibris's mission to locate hard-to-find books.

CMGI owns a variety of Internet companies, including Alta Vista and Flycast, and there are reports that Alibris may go public some time this year.

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