Monday, July 12, 2004

Amazon accused

Buying second-hand books has never been easier. allows you to search and buy used books as easily as new ones.

If you're looking for bargains or out-of-print titles this is a fantastic service. But is it creating a new market that will damage the book trade?

An article in the New York Times (free registration required) suggests that publishers are starting to worry.
"We think it's not good for the industry and it has an effect, but we can't measure it," said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, a trade group. "There has always been used-book sales, but it's always been a background noise sort of thing. Now it's right there next to the new book on Amazon."


  1. For me this applies as much to new books as to used. There'll always be times when I prefer to browse a bookstore, just to see what I come up with. But equally there'll always be times when I need a book in a hurry and I'm not able to drive to the nearest city centre. Besides, I've always loved getting nice packages in the mail. Ditto second-hand books: if you know what you want but don't have the faintest idea where it can be found, it's just possible Amazon will save an awful lot of wasted journeys.

    My real worry about Amazon is not what it sells, but the sheer scale of its business. Not sure where that question is taking me...

  2. Seems to me like it's the usual "the Web's going to wipe out my business!" scare story. A knee-jerk reaction to a problem that will never materialise.

    The second hand book market has always co-existed with standard publishing. All the Amazon, abebook et al offer is a new way of delivering an already existing service.

    I buy most of my books over the net now because I'm bone idle and I can almost call it work - it's research, okay - but the proportion of second hand to new is about the same as it's always been. It just means I no longer trawl round book lined caves that smell of damp carpet and Nescafe as much as I used to.


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