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Old 10-27-2013, 05:01 PM   #1
charmian
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The eventual impact of ebooks on the used book market

This post speculates on how ebooks will eventually affect the used books market in the US: http://walkitout.livejournal.com/1055353.html

The writer suggests that the supply of used books has exploded as a result of ebooks, and also because the internet makes distribution easier. But, this may eventually result in a bust, because if enough people switch over to ebooks, they may not be interested in buying physical books anymore, and for the businesses, an increase in supply means a fall in prices.

I think that as publishers continue to digitize their back catalogs (and in the very long term, as more books fall into the public domain), it may be just cheaper to buy an ebook, because you don't have to pay for shipping. And that will hurt online used book sales.
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Old 10-27-2013, 05:21 PM   #2
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So? If a product has reached the end of its usefulness, it should die a natural death. If not, I'm going to start a buggy whip factory, and claim that I should have protection because the market is failing.
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:29 PM   #3
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I used "used books" for reference in my writing. I mark the books internally, I insert page markers, etc. into them for quick reference to relevant text.

The typical rate at Amazon is $4.00 total shipped to my door. No tax, and 3% off the card bill.

I expect eventually that there will be fewer used paper books as people buy less paper books in general. Then prices will increase because of short supply.
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:38 AM   #4
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I've bought more used books than ever in the last year or two. It's still a good way of trying new things cheaply, and there are still significant gaps in electronic backlists. I think I might have reached saturation point, now, though. I really need to a dozen or so of those Agatha Christies before I buy any more.
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan_cassidy View Post
So? If a product has reached the end of its usefulness, it should die a natural death. If not, I'm going to start a buggy whip factory, and claim that I should have protection because the market is failing.
The article doesn't say anything about protecting the paper book market. But if the used book market dries up, it does increase the effective price of books, because we will wind up paying full price for all of our books.
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:42 AM   #6
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I buy most of the academic books I need for my Egyptology degree 2nd-hand, but primarily because a lot of them are out of print.
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:57 AM   #7
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I can confirm that is happening already, at least on my part. In the past, I would've gone to the used bookstore to see if they had a classic (public domain) that I felt was missing from my library. Now, I'll get such things from the M.R. library or gutenberg.org.

I am also less likely to go to the used bookstore because I have very limited space. However, if I (really, really) like the book or am collecting that author/series, I'll get the eBook, then get a used DTB version.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:30 AM   #8
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Pretty much BS in my opinion. Factors that don't seem to be mentioned in the article are:
1) no used ebook market so ebooks can only kill the used pbook market if people buy new ebooks instead of used pbooks.
2) new ebook prices remain substantially higher, on average, than used pbook prices. Most people follow their pocketbooks so it's unlikely they'll buy new ebooks rather than used pbooks.
3) due to copyright extension fewer & fewer books are entering public domain so I don't think public domain books form a significant part of the used pbook market. I agree that ebooks will probably kill whatever part of the market PD does represent but I don't think it'll have an impact on the market as a whole.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:43 AM   #9
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It took this long for people to work this out? Because quite a lot of voracious readers are buying ebooks this source of pbook buying is drying up, which in turn means less used books around. Also, I know this is an ebook forum, but why are most people on here so anti pbooks to the point that they want to deny everyone else using them? I may be misreading things but some of the comments seem to point to this. I know that ebooks are easier to read, cheaper and more convenient, but not everyone wants to use them. I know that one argument is that once people use an ereader they will never go back. However, this is not always true, as I know lots people who have tried an ereader but did not like it, my Dad for one. I bought him a good KPW for him, and he doesn't use it, because he prefers pbooks. I will add that I do love ebooks, for the above reasons. However, I think we should be wary of attitudes that affect people who don't want ebooks. Just a thought, and feel free to disagree vociferously.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:48 AM   #10
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I don't expect big gains in copyright holders digitizing back catalogs.

There's an awful lot of books/magazines to be digitized. Many of which are no longer controlled by publishers...
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:53 AM   #11
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And there is another hurdle. I think it will actually be too much effort in both time and money for everyone, but what do I know?
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin-c View Post
Pretty much BS in my opinion. Factors that don't seem to be mentioned in the article are:

1) no used ebook market so ebooks can only kill the used pbook market if people buy new ebooks instead of used pbooks.
It will probably depend on where you live.

I belong to a large pbook trading site, and yes, people are starting to see a slow down of posted used books for trade.

As more people go to ebooks, they aren't getting impatient and buying a pbook to read, then having it to trade.

There is a bit of a surge when someone gets an ereader and decides to switch over. I had hundreds of books I posted for trade, then sold the credits I earned in the trades and bought ebook replacements. So I posted a lot of books at once I might not have put on the market for a long time. But now that I've cleaned house off all but my keepers, I've not got anything new to put into the system. So if a pbook comes up that I want, it's easier to buy a credit on the site to get it than posting an pbook for trade. And there's fewer pbooks I'm interested in getting, so I've got a small stash of credits I don't have any use for.

Since the site if full of people who read huge amounts of books, the lack of new books in the system is starting to show as more and more people switch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin-c View Post
2) new ebook prices remain substantially higher, on average, than used pbook prices. Most people follow their pocketbooks so it's unlikely they'll buy new ebooks rather than used pbooks.
It depends on what you like to read. The biggest draw for the people on the swap site to switch over are the Kindle Freebies, their Loan program and now open enrollment in libraries using Overdrive.

Between the three, most people I know of have more books than they know what to do with, for free.

And even at the site, experienced traders usually spend about $2 a pbook. The 99 cent books out there are a huge draw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin-c View Post
3) due to copyright extension fewer & fewer books are entering public domain so I don't think public domain books form a significant part of the used pbook market. I agree that ebooks will probably kill whatever part of the market PD does represent but I don't think it'll have an impact on the market as a whole.
I think that as long as there are still sites on-line where you can get a $2 used pb book, the on-line site will stay open. But the local UBS in my area are pretty pricey. The one that's been open the longest is no longer very cheap, charging only about 1-2 dollars under the new purchase price for a used book.

In a lot of cases, the ebook is cheaper than the used pbook at those stores. They're pricing themselves out of business against both new pbooks and ebooks.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:58 AM   #13
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I know that ebooks are easier to read, cheaper and more convenient
For new books you're probably right-but this thread is about used books. Used pbooks are generally cheaper than ebooks and that's why the used book market isn't in danger. As most of the voracious readers I know would say, "if I couldn't buy used books I couldn't afford to buy enough to qualify as a 'voracious' reader". That's true whether they prefer ebooks or pbooks. Either way it's the used books (all pbooks AFAIK) that make up the majority of what they buy.
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Old 10-28-2013, 12:13 PM   #14
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I appreciate that, but I just don't think that some of this forum's member very strong opinions should be taken to mean that pbooks should be completely destroyed, as most people still mostly read pbooks, and by most people I mean casual readers. Most of these casual readers aren't going to buy an ereader, as they only read a relatively small number of books a year, so there isn't really any point. If new pbooks disappear, and the used pbook market dries up, then these people will read even less.
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Old 10-28-2013, 01:04 PM   #15
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I think most voracious readers have decided which they prefer, and in my experience it has little to do with price. Price might decide what they buy but not what they prefer. I worked with a 24 year old English Literature student last summer who has never read an ebook and has no plans to do so even though she is struggling with tuition etc. and much of what she reads is public domain. She is computer literate and has both laptop and tablet so she could read ebooks. And she is currently trying to read as many classics as she can get her hands on. She just refers her 'Ratty old paperbacks'

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