Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2020 Issue

eBay is not another Abe or Biblio

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The book listing sites have been around for more than two decades and once upon a time there were many.  But not so.  eBay saw the number of listing sites shrinking and shifted, in books anyway, to mimicking Abe and Amazon with different pricing and discount features.  It remains to be seen how these pricing models will coexist.

 

eBay’s formula originally was primarily as an auction but lost faith in their business model and fell in love with Abe’s.  That was pathetic!   Instead they split their old and used book business into twin unequal options, retaining their now anemic auction site while building up their fixed price service to encourage higher listing prices with a mechanism to create faux bargain hunting by offering regulated discounts.  Their prices even so seem very full.  This is basically a phony discount strategy.  It’s a Potemkin village.

 

What’s lacking are references to reality such as: 

 

When was a listing first posted?  What and when were changes in the listing made such as:

 

  1. Listing date, price and description including number of days listed
  2. A complete history of all changes and dates
  3. A record of all inquiries and/or sales of this item [if more than one] on eBay

 

In other words prospective buyers would pour over the listing history, become informed, become interested or perhaps disinterested if they saw something like “this listing has been posted for 3,491 days.”

 

And I understand that eBay wants to keep their sellers’ identities secret because they don’t want buyers to get into open conversations with their sellers.  That’s understandable given that their only real interest is to earn a sales commission.  But let’s remember the primary motivation for listing is to sell.

 

At first glance the Abe platform seems better.

 

At some point Abe, eBay or Biblio will become dynamic because the listings are essentially inert and do not entice interest, and at some time their financial people are going to ask what they need to do.


Posted On: 2020-05-01 09:32
User Name: jea888

Hello Bruce

Objectively - your points 1,2 and 3 aren’t available on abe either. I can’t speak for Biblio.

Actually no 2 - a list of all revisions is available on ebay - under the Description tab (not on mobile) there is a link “View all revisions”
And at the bottom of every listing where the seller owns a shop - there are full contact details - telephone number and email address under the heading “Business details”
I agree that both sites could do with improving. I list on abe and ebay and I wish abe would give better photo options and longer description boxes as well as (for a seller) the ability to get paid right away rather than a week later!
I know a lot of people hate ebay but - having sold on both - ebay is better for me overall.
J


Posted On: 2020-05-01 14:13
User Name: papapossum

eBay’s greatest weakness is its lack of traffic. Otherwise, its flexibility in constructing listings, with multiple photos, enhanced graphics, and almost limitless space to describe and “sell” an item, is a real boon for dealers.

However, auction-style listings are simply going away, not because of a decision eBay made, but because for the most part, consumers don’t feel that they have time to deal with them. And indeed, from the seller’s perspective, they are a loser’s game. I set my “Buy It Now” prices to what I think the market can bear, based on how the item has sold in the past on eBay – information, which of course, is available under “Sold” listings. (This very close to “3.” on your list of desiderata, although it only goes back a few months.)

If someone wants to pay my price, good. If not, they can move on. I will sometimes knock off 15%, sometimes not. I don’t have time for extended negotiations with low-ballers, and I do not include the “Best Offer” option with my eBay listings. If the book has value, what’s it to me if it sits around for three or five years? It’s not in a dusty shop depending on foot traffic – it is for sale in front of the entire country.

With the decline of auction listings, and the increased availability of information educating sellers on what they have and what it’s worth, bargains are not as common on eBay as they once were. Based on this article and the one you posted back in the fall concerning eBay, it sounds like you’re dealing with some degree of bitterness about this fact.


Posted On: 2020-05-06 20:16
User Name: zbooks

Hi Bruce, I was recently offered a 30% discount on a buy-it-now item in my watch list. I happily purchased it but was interested to see the sale was recorded by Ebay at the regular price, with no mention of the discount. If this is standard procedure, the sales records need to be taken with a big grain of salt. Stay safe and sanitized. Kurt Zimmerman


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.
  • <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
  • <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020

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