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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Abebooks Discusses Partner Changes

Sue Connors, Director of Abebooks Sales and Account Management, was kind enough to reply to some questions we asked her today regarding the site. Our primary question surrounded the idea of "partner" sites and whether or not Abe has any plans to seek new partners. As they've mentioned previously, Abe plans on leaving the "partner" model behind them, and focusing on sales generated through its site proper.

According to Connors, "The aggregator model (where we list multiple booksellers under one account) simply does not work due to the volume of inventory in an aggregator account and the limited 'pipeline and processing' to these partner sites. There is too much data to process book changes or deletes to ensure customers are getting what they're ordering on these sites and are not disappointed in the Abebooks' service."

Connors continues on to say that booksellers focusing on "new" books should not fear losing a significant amount of sales because of the changes. Most of the sales to partner sites were for lower priced used/rare books - not necessarily new ones as many assume. In general, it is Abe's goal, according to Connors, to meet all of the book wants of its customers - used, rare, and new. In fact, even according to Abe customers who consider themselves "collectors", 39% of their book purchases on the site are for new books.

What we have here, when compared to Alibris, are two listings services, prepared to go two radically different ways. On the one hand, Abe is confident enough in its own model to continue its current seller fee structure despite the loss in partner sales and has no plans of making up for the loss with new partners. On the other hand, Alibris, hopes to mitigate the loss of Amazon by adding Half, a site that Abebooks dropped. Alibris maintains strong partnerships with sites like Barnes and Noble and continues to put efforts into expanding and improving partner programs.