How The Used Book Market On Amazon Helps The Sale Of New Books

from the facts-instead-of-freaking-out dept

A few years back, the Authors Guild positively freaked out when it discovered that Amazon.com offered links to sellers of used books right along side the new books. They sent a nasty letter to Jeff Bezos about how he was harming authors and publishers and told authors that they shouldn't link to Amazon.com as it would take money out of their wallets. Unfortunately, just like with the entertainment industry the actual data shows a very different story. Research on used book sales suggests an active used book market helps, not harms, the sale of new books. There are a couple of explanations for this. First, an active used book market means that newer books have a higher resale value (effectively allowing people to estimate how much it costs to "rent" a book). Secondly, it turns out that many people simply don't view used books as a substitute for new books. That is, many people only buy used books or only buy new books. On top of all of that, giving customers more choice tends to increase the overall size of the market, whether by giving them more reasons to come back or by introducing them to something new that encourages them to buy more. For example, people will buy a used book from an author they're unfamiliar with, but if they like it, they may then be willing to buy new books by that same author in the future (when, without the used book, they would never have been willing to buy the new book). Once again, though, the kneejerk reaction from a group in the content industry is leading those they represent in the wrong direction.

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  1. identicon
    Adam Szymczak, 28 Jul 2005 @ 6:18am

    Trade Associations Suck

    What do you expect? Most trade associations focus on the negative not the positive. In this case they did not view the used book market as a way of building a larger book buying population. The trade associations also forget that most people have a fixed and limited amount of discretionary spending dollars, and for the most part people will go with the lowest cost item. If that means a used book, so be it.

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