Alibris to Focus on Business Customers
Edward Nawotka -- 9/18/00
Long-running, high-profile marketing campaign comes to an abrupt stop

A high-profile marketing campaign featuring dog-eared titles from the '60s and '70s for, the online used book service, that has been running in major periodicals for many months is coming to an abrupt stop. Alibris will be curtailing, if not entirely eliminating, its marketing spending in order to emphasize business and library customers over sales to individuals.

The change comes in the wake of a wave of closures and severe losses at many online companies. Alibris had announced earlier this year that it planned to spend close to $100 million in order to build brand awareness among Net surfers and book buyers.

Martin Manley, president and CEO of Alibris, told PW, "This offers us a full opportunity to focus on the fastest-growing segment of our market. Transactions through business partners are growing at a rate five times faster than to consumers. We feel that focusing on business channel development is the best use of our resources."

Investors, including Ingram and a handful of high-profile venture capitalists, have poured more than $60 million into the business. At present, bookstores can access Alibris's ordering system through and via Ingram's iPage Web site, which charges a monthly maintenance fee. Selected Alibris titles are also offered on B&

It is not clear what practical plans Alibris has to implement its new business strategy or what it may do differently from this point forward. Manley said only, "We're working on a number of exciting new initiatives we hope to reveal shortly."

Internationally, Alibris plans to continue to expand. The company recently entered into partnerships with Pegasus Wholesale, Canada's largest distributor, and with Chapters Online, the dominant Canadian online bookstore, to integrate Alibris offerings into their own selections. Alibris also will be looking to expand overseas and to integrate additional foreign-language titles into its system, and to expand its dealer network. Alibris has already opened a London office and is considering further moves into the Continent.