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
    Kub, 28 Jul 2005 @ 10:59pm

    amazon and the mysterious 'research study"

    can you guide us to the research study and its sponsors who determined such things about amazon? It is interesting to think that such a 'study' or series of studies would have to track down huge numbers of people (not via amazon, who wouldnot release customer contacts) and then get them to fill out a form, AND then send it back. It would lend credibility to the statements if we could know the study citation and its sponsors. Measuring Apples against oranges is not a statisically sturdy procedure to rely on. Speaking of Amazon, and just my two cents worth, more likely the Guild was talking about NEW books that are being sold by USED BOOKS sellers, as well as what are called pre-pub Reader's copies that are supposed to not be sold, but rather given away. I think, again, just my two cent's worth, that the debate about content and how it is offered can rely on hard facts in the best arguments. That means, it may be far more convincing to name sources specifically rather than to allude to them.

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