Why Indies Are Selling Used Books

August 2005
by Jennie McCune

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Listening to PMA members’
complaints and fears about used-book sales, we decided to do a little investigating.
And knowing that a study now in the works will be based on sales figures from
the likes of Amazon, eBay, and B&N, as well as from traditional used-book
retailers, we decided to concentrate on brick-and-mortar independents (see
“Coming Soon” below for more on the comprehensive used-books study).

The primary findings that emerged
from interviews with a variety of indies are:

·      Sales of used books in independent
bookstores are part of a bigger phenomenon.

·      Booksellers see sales of used
books as a positive development for publishers as well as for themselves.

Margins Matter

Most booksellers and independent
observers believe that indies’ sales of used books are up, although we have no
hard numbers from the American Booksellers Association. But several booksellers
stress the point that adding used books isn’t an isolated trend. It’s part of
the campaign by booksellers to find ways to expand their offerings and broaden
their customer appeal.

In other words, used books equate
to just one more to

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