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Amazon.com; a publisher's reply

Amazon.com *requests* that publishers provide a discount if they wish to
have their titles listed through their web site.  I have not listed the
titles I've published on Amazon.com because the quantities sold do not
permit this on their preferred terms.

However, they order titles from me.  They called me after people began
ordering books I have for sale and I explained that the discount terms I
offer to the trade are 1&2 copies per title = no discount; 3-9 copies/title
= 25% discount; 10+ copies/title = 40% discount.

They wish to satisfy their customers and are willing to pay me full retail,
including my shipping charge to provide any titles of mine which you may
order from them; sometimes a number of orders for a particular title come
in in a short time and they bulk their order, to take advantage of the
discount rate.

This is in stark contrast to the practice of University Products, a
supplier of conservation supplies.  They purchase videotapes from me at a
discount (established many years ago) and sell them for approx. 3X what I
charge them.  Most of the videotapes are purchased by institutions and it
is easier(!) for institutions to order from a single supplier, even if the
person ordering a particular videotape knows that they could save a great
deal of money by purchasing direct from me.

A few months ago I was asked to address a group of booksellers.  All of
them owned small, local shops.

Before I began my talk, I asked how many of them had an email address and
everyone raised their hands; then I asked how many of them sold books via
email and about half of them raised their hands.  When I asked how many of
them planned to close their storefront and conduct all of their business
via email, one person raised his hand, saying that when his lease was up
(December, 1997) he was closing the doors and going fulltime online.

All of the dealers selling online told me that they were making approx.
half of their income from online sales.


Living in Portland, Oregon, I am fortunate.  There are many used bookstores
here, including Powell's, one of the largest used bookstores in the US (and
available online).

I collect books related to my fields of work and research; the local
bookdealers know this and often call me when books in my areas of interest
come to them.  But not all books are available to me in Portland.  So, I go
the the web.  Book dealers from around the world post their collections to
one or more web sites.

I begin looking at www.abebooks.com; then www.bibliofind.com.  Lastly,

Interloc is the oldest of the three, but for many years they were not
available to the general public.  Book dealers learned to work through
their protocols, but the interface is not as simple as abebooks or

All things change, and the web changes faster than most anything I'm aware
of, so interloc may well regain its position as a premier
bookbuyer's/seller's site.

I am all in favor of selling books via the internet.  And I love to spend
the odd hour wandering through a used book shop.  The better used
bookstores are dividing their time between selling on the web and providing
a refuge to
off-the-street traffic.  The local used bookstores cannot match the
discounts offered by the major bookstores, but the major bookstores do not
provide the depth available in used bookstores, much less the expertise of
a committed staff in comfortable surroundings.

Just a thought...

Thompson Conservation Laboratory
Portland, Oregon  97217

503/735-3942  (voice/fax)


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