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Old 03-28-2010, 11:50 PM   #1
tobymax
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Observations of 10 years buying used books

Since 2000 I have bought nothing but used books. Yes there is a connection to ebooks.

I noticed a post about some company (Simon and Schuster?) not publishing
ebooks for 4 months after hardcover comes out. Which makes me wonder
about all the paperbacks that come out that have no hardcover published first.

Four months btw is important and thats in the used book market for
bestsellers.

Used books have 2 seasons. The mid-April to mid-November season is the
fleamarket season. In my area there are 2 major fleamarkets one on
Saturday and the other on Sunday. This is where one finds the bulk of
new books. Its also yard sale season.

The second season is the thrift shop season for the rest of the year,
Along with the stray indoor fleamarket which is rare.

Now any hardcover bestseller that comes out during the fleamarket season
will be found in a fleamarket in less the 2 months. For those bestsellers
during the other months most likely you will see it in a thrift shop and definately withen the first month of fleamarket season.

For any popular paperback novelist one can find the book anywhere from
one week later and at most 2 months.

So this 4 month deal from hardcover to ebook seems to me like the
publishers consider ebooks as nothing but gravy. They have to know as
well as I do that these ebooks of popular writers will already be out in the
used book market by the time its in ebook form. Its almost like a surrender.
I suspect that the pirates are going to be used book buyers and library readers. I won't - but honestly I can't get my mind around paying more then
a dollar for a paperback novel and that better be a less then 2 month old book and 2 dollars for hardcover which better be new.

Now I have been noticing in the past few years in thrift shops how books
can stay on shelves for literally years. At one rather popular thrift shop they
have had the same row of Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts books for years
with books not selling. There is an entire wall of just paperbacks pb 25 cents
hc 50 cents.

I often volunteer at this thrift shop to put the books
away for them when they arrive (I get first dibs that way). Actually at this
thrift shop which is constantly busy with people buying - except books.
One worker said there are two consistant buyers - me and another guy.

This weekend I was at one of the rare indoor fleamarket that is very popular
which is at the local Senior Center. One table is just of books from the
Center's library. The books are just novels hc and pb. This weekend I arrived
early at 7:50 and was there until 10:30am - the height of the fleamarket
is these hours (I ate breakfast and gabbed with dealers I know). Well the
table of books sold exactly one dollars worth of books (10 cents 12 for a
dollar). A private dealer had also set up books of all Debbie MacComber (sp?)
for 25 cents each and she sold 0.

So over the years I think there is an important lesson - books are essentially
worthless. Its only of value to the person interested in that novel. Savers
which sells used paperbacks just openned in my area a few weeks ago I went in 4 times I never saw a person buying or looking at paperback novels which
they have 4 rows of - the prices are 1.99 to 2.99 (7.99 cover price).

I am going to get an ebook reader to read old rare out of print novels.
I will compliment that with new books I find in the used book market.

I also can't quite figure out also why publishers would want to get into
ebook format. I suspect ebooks with piracy are nothing more then a form
of used book but publishers have slightly more chance of getting money.
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:15 AM   #2
Fat Abe
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Originally Posted by tobymax View Post
I also can't quite figure out also why publishers would want to get into
ebook format. I suspect ebooks with piracy are nothing more then a form
of used book but publishers have slightly more chance of getting money.
After conversion to electronic format, this is the cheapest method of production and distribution. Since it involves only a license to use, the consumer does not own something that he/she can resell or donate. What a great sales model! A typical paperback can have several lives. The original owner purchases the copy new. Later he/she may sell or donate the book. It creates a negative benefit to the publisher, since he cannot make any additional money on the book, and it cannibalizes new sales. (Some may argue this point since the opportunity to sell new does not exist with certain customers- they only buy used).

As for thrift shops, they do cheapen the market for books, but they do this for nearly everything in their store. Ever bought a 100% cotton shirt (retail $40 new) for $3 used? That's just the nature of thrift stores. You might want to compare book prices at a (specialty) used book dealer or comic book store.

I will agree with you about recent novels, at least the unsigned ones. They just do not retain value. However, there are classes of non-fiction books that do hold value. The subject they address must be non-changing, and they should be OOP. Right now, The Complete Films of Bette Davis (Citadel) is being offered on Ebay for $15 - $35, about the cost of the book, when it was new. This book had a large production run in its day. Next, try looking for a mint copy of The Complete Films of Doris Day, and you'll see that its price is well over $100. Reason: lower production. Extremely rare art books have 4 and 5 figure sales prices. These are signed and limited editions. Why would anyone pay over 10 grand for Helmut Newton's SUMO Tacshen? Because they can afford it, and the book holds value.

I believe the only solution to transitioning hard core paper book buyers into the world of ebooks is to bundle the two together. Those publishers who want to defer the release of ebooks by 4 months to capitalize on hard cover sales should offer to sell the ebooks only if the buyer purchases both formats. This may sound elitist or restrictive, but it seems like the only compromise that appears workable.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:59 AM   #3
mr ploppy
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conversion to electronic format
Maybe for old books that were written with typewriters or quill pens, but anything published since the mid 80s would have been created digitally when it was written. The cover would just be a lower resolution copy of the real book cover, and the text for the book would be pasted into whatever they use for markup. In fact one PDF would do for both real book and ebook.
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Old 03-29-2010, 11:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Abe View Post
After conversion to electronic format, this is the cheapest method of production and distribution. Since it involves only a license to use, the consumer does not own something that he/she can resell or donate. What a great sales model! A typical paperback can have several lives. The original owner purchases the copy new. Later he/she may sell or donate the book. It creates a negative benefit to the publisher, since he cannot make any additional money on the book, and it cannibalizes new sales. (Some may argue this point since the opportunity to sell new does not exist with certain customers- they only buy used).

As for thrift shops, they do cheapen the market for books, but they do this for nearly everything in their store. Ever bought a 100% cotton shirt (retail $40 new) for $3 used? That's just the nature of thrift stores. You might want to compare book prices at a (specialty) used book dealer or comic book store.

I will agree with you about recent novels, at least the unsigned ones. They just do not retain value. However, there are classes of non-fiction books that do hold value. The subject they address must be non-changing, and they should be OOP. Right now, The Complete Films of Bette Davis (Citadel) is being offered on Ebay for $15 - $35, about the cost of the book, when it was new. This book had a large production run in its day. Next, try looking for a mint copy of The Complete Films of Doris Day, and you'll see that its price is well over $100. Reason: lower production. Extremely rare art books have 4 and 5 figure sales prices. These are signed and limited editions. Why would anyone pay over 10 grand for Helmut Newton's SUMO Tacshen? Because they can afford it, and the book holds value.

I believe the only solution to transitioning hard core paper book buyers into the world of ebooks is to bundle the two together. Those publishers who want to defer the release of ebooks by 4 months to capitalize on hard cover sales should offer to sell the ebooks only if the buyer purchases both formats. This may sound elitist or restrictive, but it seems like the only compromise that appears workable.

You can never tell when a mania squeeze will occur for a book title. let me give you an example.

Theodore Sturgeon descendants are producing a complete set of his short stories. (He was mainly a short story writer.) Volume 8 came out in 2002. You can't find one for less that $250 dollars! And that's for a used, ex-library book. I just bought volume 6 (new) for $20 or so (with shipping), same for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10 (and I can buy 11 and 12 for around the same price.) I bought vol 7 for $20 2 years ago. Now it's around $150. Go figure. (these are all hardbacks.)
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