Friday 4 August 2017

You may wish to order direct from your favourite secondhand booksellers from now onwards

I got this letter today from Richard Johnson - an excellent bookseller with expert knowledge who provides a personal service; who specialises in Inklings-related material, and whose prices are very fair. He is providing information on a new and punitive charge imposed by Amazon marketplace:

Dear book lovers,

Earlier this week Amazon decided to charge an extra 58p commission for every book sold by market-place sellers on their site. (Their CEO is now worth $90,000,000,000, so perhaps he needs the extra money!) 58p might not sound a lot, but for many small sellers it might make the difference between staying afloat or not. For example: Imagine I buy a book for £1, that I think I can sell at £5; a not uncommon scenario. I put it on Amazon at £4.99, and someone buys it; with the postage they pay £7.79. Amazon take their commission on the price of the book, and also commission on the postage; so up until last week I would have received £6.37. But they now take an extra 58p, so I now receive £5.79. I also have to pay a £30 monthly charge to Amazon for selling on their site; which might work out at another 40p per book. If the book is thicker than a large letter I then have to pay £2.90 second-class postage, plus c15p packaging. Ignoring running costs of storage, heating, etc, once I take off the £1 original cost, I might make £1.34 profit instead of £1.92, for a fairly significant amount of work; which is a 30% loss of income on that sale.

If the customer had ordered the book directly from me, I would probably charge them £7.50 including postage, so it would be cheaper for them, but using the costs above I would make £3.45 instead of £1.34; which might just keep me afloat!

The moral is: unless you want to add even more to Jeff Bezos' fortune, whenever possible please order books directly from small sellers (not just me, but all small sellers); I know it's a bit more hassle, but if you don't, in the end there won't be any of us left.

Thanks for reading this! Richard --

Richard Johnson
Kingsbury House
Main Road
LN13 0LD

mobile: 07754 384833


Nick said...

I use AbeBooks for many purchases. Even though they are a subsidiary of Amazon now, their prices tend to be lower, perhaps because there is a smaller cut taken from booksellers than when they sell directly on Amazon.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nick - In recent years, I have often found Abebooks more expensive - sometimes with ridiculous delivery charges.

Well, until a few years ago it was a bit of a golden age for buying secondhand books; but recently it has become usual to charge 'silly' prices for not-rare but out-of-print books (around 100 pounds, or even more) - so the decline had already begun.

Anonymous said...

Any recommendations for getting onto small sellers as such? Or is it just a matter of searching for book titles online? Or finding out which sellers have something via Amazon and then approaching them directly, instead?

David Llewellyn Dodds

Bruce Charlton said...

David - Your last suggestion is what I would try, at present.