Amazon’s Acquisition of AbeBooks: A Response From Brian Elliott, CEO of Alibris August 2, 2008 – Tags: , , ,

I asked Brian Elliott, CEO of Alibris, his take on Amazon’s acquisition of AbeBooks and how it might effect the overall used, rare, and out-of-print online market and Alibris in particular. Though he chose not to address the questions directly he does provide a glimpse into Alibris’s current strategy.

Brian Elliott– While I won’t comment on Amazon and ABEbooks (they have enough to explain on their own), I’m glad to lay out what we’re doing at Alibris. We see plenty of growth ahead, which we plan to help drive.

We’ve been focusing this year on growing our sales for sellers, and improving the services that we provide to sellers. I’d point out three specific areas we’ve been focusing on this year to help drive sales for our sellers:

Alibris Seller Storefronts. Seller storefronts allow buyers on Alibris’s branded Web sites ( and Alibris U.K. at to find more items from each seller, and to save on shipping and handling charges. Storefronts now allow sellers to also merchandise items to their buyers, to describe and personalize their businesses better, and to gain more direct access to buyers.

Collectibles Improvements. Alibris has made recent enhancements that benefit sellers and buyers of rare, out-of-print, and collectible books, music, and movies. While our competition was raising fees, Alibris capped seller commissions at $60, including all credit card fees and fraud-protection expenses. We believe that we are now the least expensive major marketplace on which to sell collectibles. Alibris also now allows sellers to upload images of unique items, and buyers can directly contact sellers with questions about their inventory. Over the coming months, Alibris will be making its sellers’ collectible inventory even more visible to buyers.

Business Partners. Alibris has created a set of standardized methods that allows online retailers to search through its sellers’ vast inventories and offer Alibris items for sale on their e-commerce sites. Used in recent new partnerships like Blackwell U.K., Alibris Integration Services (a set of XML-based application programming interfaces) enable retailers and wholesalers with online sites and in-store kiosk programs to dramatically extend their selection and to offer incredible deals on used books, music items, and movies. We’ve also launched a hosted marketplace solution, which Borders is using for their Borders Marketplace ( )

Partners like Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, Chapters/Indigo in Canada, and others have always been an important part of our business. Our new services allow us to help retailers extend into the ‘Long Tail’ without having to make the investments otherwise needed in technology and operations to bring our sellers’ selections to their most valuable customers.

So while ABE and Amazon are busy integrating and explaining why sellers should still pay fees to both of them, we’ll be busy helping drive more sales volume to our sellers.

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