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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Is Alibris Doomed?

Another down weekend at Alibris. It makes you wonder just how much longer this great site will be around. The fee structure and general organization for sellers makes it one of the most popular places to sell books online. The idea, using higher commissions (20%) instead of charging a monthly fee seems to make sense on paper, but for some reason the company remains in murky financial water.

As a nonactive follower of the Alibris message boards, it is clear the natives are getting restless. Complaints about the warehouse, seller support, and down time emerge multiple times a week. In fact, the sense is if it were not for one overbearing and belligerent pro-Alibris poster (planted?) chopping down the "whiners" the complaints would be much greater. It is obvious that the success of the site will depend on the amount of sellers they draw. In addition, the better the sellers do and the happier they are the less likely they are to cross-list (leads to cancelled orders) or completely leave the site altogether. Rumor has it that Alibris employees do not read the bookseller forum. Any semi-competent businessman would find this hard to believe, but if they do not perhaps that is their mistake. Alibris sellers need to step up and fight for their rights - and in so doing the longevity of Alibris itself. Perhaps they should follow the lead of eBay's "powersellers" who have had some success in voicing their opinion.