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Tue Apr 7 2009 09:41:47

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

By: Ina Steiner

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As reported in today's AuctionBytes Newsflash newsletter, Amazon.com will limit which sellers will be allowed to list books in "Collectible" condition. This is a major departure from the way Amazon had run its book business.

Amazon has restrictions in most other categories, and, in fact, there is pent-up demand of sellers wanting to list their clothing, accessories, jewelry and other products on the site. But books were always wide open to third-party sellers as long as they didn't receive customer complaints.  

Some have speculated the policy change has to do with Amazon.com's acquisition of AbeBooks last year. At the time, Abe had over 110 million primarily used, rare and out-of-print books listed for sale by thousands of independent booksellers from around the world.

Professional booksellers may be extremely happy about this development, assuming they are allowed to sell in the category. Others will still be able to list their "collectible" books, but will have to classify them as used.

I noticed that you can find mass market paperbacks listed on Amazon as collectible. It's unfortunate Amazon.com can't use a database to weed out inappropriate collectible listings instead of restricting sellers. Hopefully booksellers will jump in here and let us know what they think!





Comments (19) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Seller

Tue Apr 7 09:53:55 2009

I sell a lot of signed books, they might be regular books, but the are signed by the author...

How will Amazon seperate this?

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Marilyn

Tue Apr 7 10:08:30 2009

This could be a good thing. I say "could" because no one really understands what the qualifiers are going to be in order to sell in the Collectibles category. There are many rare and collectible booksellers who are very small sellers, so size should not be a consideration; in fact, the argument could be made that size is a detriment, since most megasellers don't bother to accurately describe or grade their listings. I think Amazon needs to be much clearer about Who is going to be allowed into Collectibles.

I also wonder if this is Step 1 in some long term integration plan with ABE (which Amazon owns) that we don't know about (yet).

I have no problem with Amazon wanting to clean up Collectibles--heaven knows it is way overdue. (So is cleanup in regular used books where condition and grading issues abound, but that's another story). I do wish Amazon had been clearer on the timeline of precisely When this will occur (instead of a vauge "next few weeks" and on Who will qualify. Even tiny sellers can have legitimate scarce and collectible books. I do think that length of time on Amazon and feedback/order defect ratio should play a part in the qualifying equation.

We will just have to wait to see...

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Marilyn

Tue Apr 7 10:11:29 2009

One more thought....I would hope that Amazon would use this to also elaborate and expressly identify what they are going to consider Collectible. For example, a First Edition isn't necessarily Collectible--because most collectors are looking for First/First (First Edition/First Printing). Signed by author is nice, but not necessarily collectible--depends on the author. Condition isn't useful, because some truly collectible books are valuable even in very poor condition.  Hopefully they will put some stringent and specific qualifiers in place to make the Collectibles category actually useful.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Franci

Tue Apr 7 12:35:45 2009

All in all I think this is a good thing.  If a book is rare and collectible it really doesn't matter whether it's labeled used or collectible.  If there are only two or three a potential buyer will get his information from the description or contacting the seller, especially for anything over $100.00.

If it is a new hardback that is a first edition, first printing and it's mixed in with a whole bunch of other books that aren't unique in any way, then buyers will have to do more work right now.  But interestingly many collectibles are actually listed in other slots because that's where buyers are generally looking for bargains or best buys.

When amazon adds the considerations for collectible such as signed, first edition, and limits the collectibles then there will be a separation that is meaningful.  

Many old paperbacks are very collectible and they not all of them have clear edition indicators.  The old detective and sci-fi fantasy paperbacks can fetch big prices even if they are hurt and yellowed.  Also some of the most famous books these days are first printed in paperback by the author or a small press and later picked up by one of the big publishers for a hardback edition, but the author's edition is the first.

It will be interesting to see what is required to qualify as a collectible seller.  The problem there may be that some of the best buys will always be volumes offered by a private owner and not by a dealer.  There is no way for Amazon to police that.  

I think that Amazon is experiencing an influx of abuse by big jobbers and people selling remaindered and overstock.  I see lots of junk in collectible.  But the same is true on Albris and eBay as well.  

And Amazon could be wanting to attract some or several of the very snooch big-time collectible sellers who have not had an obvious presence on any of the big retailers online.  I don't know how that would help them particularly.

Jeff Bezos is no dummy so he may see something that isn't obvious to any of us outside the doors of Amazon.

I can't see how this would influence my business there at all.  I've been on and off Amazon for nearly 10 years, mostly on these days because Amazon works and eBay doesn't.


Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Jeff

Tue Apr 7 15:08:10 2009

This is a great thing, I will no longer have to endure finding books which cost $13.99 when they came out selling for over $600.00 now and in the "collectible" range.

All I can say is well done Amazon!

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Amber

Tue Apr 7 16:33:51 2009

''I noticed that you can find mass market paperbacks listed on Amazon as collectible.''

Ina, I can think of at least 3 mass market titles that are worth $50-100 each. Format has nothing to do with value as a collectible.

(although I understand what you meant)

For years, the only distinction between a collectible book and a used book on Amazon has been price point. If something is truly rare, I don't think it will impact professional booksellers at all.

And I don't think most book buyers necessarily look under the collectibles tab anyway. Serious book collectors go elsewhere for rare books.

Personally, I'd like to see Amazon put a minimum price policy in place to get rid of the penny listers. That, more than anything, would help clean up the site.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Bookseller

Tue Apr 7 18:57:26 2009

Ina, I'm not a Amazon seller, but the collectibles designation is a mess there. And yes, I too have sold mass market paperbacks (not even ones in great shape but rare) for $50-75, while at the same time having rare turn of the century books go unsold for $10.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Et tu, Brute!

Tue Apr 7 22:20:20 2009

While this is a viable concern in the collectible category, as mentioned above by Amber, I'm in total agreement and would like to see a cap put on the minimum price for the media as do Borders and I think Barnes and Nobles online.

You haven't lived until you've had the value of a book nosedive from $50.00 to a penny in weeks, even days while two to three repricers duke it out for lowest price and completely destroy the value of a book.  This happens REPEATEDLY on Amazon day after day after day.  I've had 25% of my inventory reduced to price rubble in this manner several times.  

It only takes one newbie at a time to set off this chain of price catastrophe and it is utterly RAMPANT!

My frustration is so great I have my storefront on vacation for two months now while I determine what course to take.  To leave Amazon permanently as a 3P seller, or continue.  I've already donated to Friends of the Library over 2,000 moderately performing inventory and am in the process of the final decisions regarding the rest.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: mindelec

Wed Apr 8 01:27:34 2009

i sell collectible books and their announcement is too vague to know how it will affect me.  overall if they make actually having a true description of the condition of the book a requirement it will be a good thing.  i don't know how they can include images in that requirement since they give no way of uploading a picture for a specific book.

@Et tu, Brute!
the only way to play the race to the bottom game is to refuse to play.  a good description of the book will often trump "ships daily".

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Joyful

Wed Apr 8 01:46:19 2009

Ina, I've sold one mass market paperback for $95, and I've kept as my private stock the better copy of the two I had. I've had others I've sold in the $20+ range, and I'm just a hobby seller who enjoys the work.

I've never listed anything as collectible, although I have some first-firsts that would qualify (although I probably wouldn't!).

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Et tu, Brute!

Wed Apr 8 02:15:51 2009

@ mindelec:

I never said I played the game.  It was merely a statement of fact.  I do in fact leave the prices but if you have been a long term seller on Amazon --  years -- a book will occasionally recover but it generally takes years.  And they seldom actually DO recover.

Multiply this by 25% of your inventory and you are talking about hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Make no mistake, I actually enjoyed the process on Amazon.  eBay is a joke in comparison.  With the recent glitches, disappearing inventory, altered pricing, it has become a headache I don't want.  

And let it be known, check the Amazon Seller boards.  It may sound like you should be keeping track of all that, but if you think about it, sales roll in, you are shipping out, you are listing new inventory daily, it becomes a behemoth task in a different manner.

Why should you have to watch out that a book you sold weeks ago suddenly appears in your inventory.  And you are completely unaware of this!  And THEN it is purchased!  Or a $150.00 book gets sold for $5.00!

Who needs it.  For now.  Life is for living.

I am happily selling elsewhere.  

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Cowbell

Wed Apr 8 02:26:06 2009

"Collectible" is an utterly meaningless category. It's just another thing to confuse buyers who don't need any help at all being confused.

The repricing wars don't trouble me. The value of *my* item isn't ruined, but theirs  is. When the two idiots books reach rock bottom, that's two books I can buy for $4 and sell for $50. A few of those and the newbs are broke and gone.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: A-

Wed Apr 8 05:57:29 2009

I wonder how long it will be before Amazon dictates how much you'll be able to sell an item for? Aka half.com suggestion format.

Buzzed at ebay too...
http://forums.ebay.com/db1/topic/Booksellers/Change-At-The/5
10088245

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: bah humbug amazon

Wed Apr 8 06:22:34 2009

Unfair amazon screwed us years ago so we never ever buy or sell there. Alibris.com, Biblio.com even half.com are better and less hassle.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Wed Apr 8 20:40:26 2009

Amazon is ok for few things. It doesn't thrill me, and it never has. If I needed a book for a class or for research right away, and couldn't find it anywhere else, I would buy it. That would happen maybe once every 3-4 years. Otherwise, there is nothing there that you couldn't find anywhere else. Tons of great books in price club, costco, sams club, and other mass sites at very good prices! And you get to look at them first, and avoid paying any shipping at all.

Sorry, but books are nice, you can sell books or buy books anywhere.On any site.As far as rare books, any antique sellers site is good too!

It's like...who cares? Amazon charges too much to sell anyway. Sellers can do better..I never saw any reason to start selling there.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Et tu, Brute!

Wed Apr 8 22:25:35 2009

You may be able to ''find a book, or this, that, and the other anywhere on any other site [eventually; brackets added] but the cold, hard fact remains, and I repeat, there are buyers out there that WILL NOT SHOP ON ALL THESE RANDOM SITES!  They just will not.  Amazon is exclusive in that regard.  

To sell with diligence and persistence on Amazon is to meet with success.  It is the place that is sought with trust for purchasing unlike any other.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: alibris is the book site

Thu Apr 9 07:42:36 2009

If you are looking to buy and sell books, not all that extra crap that goes along with amazon, why would you not buy on Albris.com. It is the book site.

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Et tu, Brute!

Thu Apr 9 14:11:43 2009

Most serious book buyers, even the serious collectors, have come to realize that the prices on these sites are often seriously inflated.  They can be found elsewhere at a more reasonable cost.  

Amazon Restrictions in Book Category   Amazon Restrictions in Book Category

by: Dave

Fri Apr 10 17:31:07 2009

I've always thought Amazon was a horrible place to sell books--their commissions are outrageous and they'll drop a title at the smallest legal or political pressure. I don't care what they do to the ''collectible'' category, as long as they keep their hands off AbeBooks and continue to let it function as designed. That's where you go for collectible books.



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