Monday, October 10, 2005

Used Books are a 2 Billion Dollar Industry

Buddy of mine has an Internet Auction Site Blog. Lot of news items for those who like to purchase stuff online. In fact it motivated him to start the site you can see advertised on my right hand column. Thanks to the Bidreaper for the heads up on this story from 28Sept2005 WWW.Boston.Com

Used Books are a 2 Billion Dollar Industry - Highlights from the article are:

- Quote (italics are mine) -

...a landmark study released Wednesday confirms what publishers, authors and booksellers have believed -- and feared -- since the rise of the Internet: Used books have become a modern powerhouse, driven by high prices for new works and by the convenience of finding any title, new or old, without leaving your home.

According to the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), used book sales topped $2.2 billion in 2004, an 11 percent increase over 2003. Much of that growth can be credited to the Internet. While used sales at traditional stores rose a modest 4.6 percent, they jumped 33 percent online, to just over $600 million.

"I think consumers are increasingly starting to notice that they can get used books in good condition, in a timely manner," says Jeff Hayes, a director at InfoTrends, a market research firm that served as the principal analyst for the BISG study.

More than 111 million used books were purchased last year, representing about one out of every 12 overall book purchases. By the end of the decade, the percentage is expected to rise to one out of 11, a troubling trend when sales for new works are essentially flat; authors and publishers receive no royalties from used buys.

"Obviously, these are not statistics to warm the heart of publishers," says Simon & Schuster spokesman Adam Rothberg.

The BISG, a nonprofit organization supported by publishers, booksellers and others in the industry, reports that price is the greatest appeal for choosing used books over new ones. While hardcovers often cost $25 and higher, used books purchased in 2004 averaged $8.12 -- except for text books, which averaged $42.31.
The BISG study raises other questions, such as how publishers can respond to the used market. Jane Friedman CEO of HarperCollins rejects the idea of lowering prices, but acknowledges that she has no specific solution. "It's something we've looked at for a long time," she says.

The study also does not resolve a fundamental dispute over used books: Are they hurting the market for new books, as many publishers and authors believe? Or, as retailers say, do they simply enable customers to acquire books they otherwise wouldn't have purchased?

"But there may be an upside, because a consumer might buy a used book by a certain author, and like it enough to buy the author's next book. So at this point, the impact is hard to quantify."

prying1 sez: Thanks again to Bidreaper and especially for the story!

- Raising prices to make up for lost profits will only lead to more lost profits. These outfits like the one Jane Friedman runs ought to jump on the bandwagon instead of watching the parade go by. - Is HarperCollins any relation to Tom Collins? Might think so from her quote...