Forty Thousand and Growing! A Used-Book Store Symbolizes a Problem for Publishers

April 2004
by Jan Nathan, Executive Director, PMA

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As I was driving two members of the PMA board of directors to the airport today, we passed a sign relating to one of the items we had been discussing at the meeting we had just finished–used-book sales. The sign said, “Don’t let our size fool you, we have 40,000 Used Books for sale inside this store.”

“Yikes!” was our reaction. This same topic was also discussed at the 2004 AAP annual meeting in Washington, DC, so it’s clear that it’s not just a matter of concern for smaller and independent publishers. It’s a matter of concern for the whole industry.

But what can be done? We all know that when a used book gets sold, we, as publishers, do not see revenue, and our authors do not see revenue. So who does get paid when our used books sell? The previous purchaser, of course, who is now reselling this product, and the bookseller who is acting as an intermediary between buyer and seller. Both get to share additional revenue from our products.

Resale of products occurs in other industries too, as we all know. You can resell clothing, for example, at Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other second-hand stores. Many stores of this sort, however, have the clothing donated to them and regularly use it to help needy people. This is not the pattern with books.

Effects on Prices and Profits

Many members have been calling lately to complain about the fact that a title of theirs is for sale at Amazon.com and other…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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