Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BEACON FLASH #33 - January 2009

Before Christmas, Amazon.com acquired Abebooks.com. Now, I don’t know about you, but I always try to buy my books from ABE because that way I support independent bookstores and often pay less than I would if I bought them from Amazon. Not only that, if I am trying to locate an out-of-print book, ABE usually can produce it for me at a competitive price. For example, two years back I had trouble finding a big glossy cookbook that retailed at $80.00 before it went out of print. ABE came up with it for Can$15.00 from a Canadian indie. Though it was listed as “used,” it arrived in its original cellophane wrapping, brand new.

The Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) began in 1996 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and its head office remains there. They transformed the used book business by enabling booksellers to list their offerings on one site for buyers to find and buy easily. ABE’s website says, “The unique inventory of books for sale from booksellers includes the world’s finest antiquarian books dating back to the 15th century, countless out-of-print gems, millions of signed books, millions of used copies, a vast selection of college textbooks, and new books too.” Yum!

The December 2008 news release promises that ABE will not disappear into the Amazon maw, but will remain a stand-alone operation. But, for how long? I have been wondering what Amazon is really up to—their corporate behaviour in 2008 shows troubling moves to monopolize the online bookselling business and print-on-demand publishing.