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As we might have suspected, all of these rankings are high, and though it may be difficult to separate out exactly how much of this reported traffic is comprised of book buyers, it's clear that tons of book buying is happening on all of these venues. Now, what about alternate venues? Who are some of the mid-range players, and where do they stand? Here's a sample list taken from BookThink's BookLinks page:

A1Books - 34,082
AB Bookman - 355,199
Biblio - 18,095
Biblion (UK) - 173,166
Bookbyte - 85,130
Chapitre (France) - 24,304
ChooseBooks - 92,435
HalfValue - 65,234
Maremagnum (Italy) - 283,988
TomFolio - 173,923
Used Book Central - 125,468
ZVAB (Germany) - 50,101

If you're a US bookseller contemplating a move to an alternate venue, you'd have to eliminate the four foreign sites from consideration. This leaves eight possibilities. It isn't the purpose of this article to suggest specific alternatives. A lot will depend on what your needs are, what kinds of books you sell, the type of fee structure you can live with, how much discretionary time you have to gamble with, and so on. But if there are surprises here, this will at least give you some direction for your investigation. You now have hard numbers to work with, something to plot your future with.

Part of this investigation, in my opinion, should involve a close inspection of the traffic graph mentioned above. This will give you a good idea of the direction things are moving in, and if they're heading north, this is a venue to watch and keep watching. One word of warning, however. If you see a graph that looks relatively flat over time, this doesn't mean that growth is flat. BookThink's graph, though spiky, appears to be more or less flat over the 16 months that we've been online, but actual traffic (measured by our own log analyzer) shows that traffic has tripled in the past year. What's happening is that new websites come online by the tens of thousands every day, at a much greater rate than they're abandoned. Some of these rise meteorically and pointedly affect the rankings of everybody else - and disguise growth for them. Look, for example, at the graph displayed for Howard Dean's Dean for America website.

Its current ranking, despite the recent publicity he's received from his run for the DNC chairmanship, is only 116,671. However, during the heat of the presidential campaign early last year, this same ranking approached three figures, almost entering the exclusive top 1,000 websites club - and don't think Dean wasn't aware of it. Several times during his campaign he cited his Alexa numbers in comparison to other candidates.

Ok. Back to that website I alluded to earlier. The plain vanilla one? Go to it, and you'll probably be overwhelmingly under-whelmed by its appearance. To me, it resembles something out of the DOS age, and it's not an especially classy example of that. Graphics are almost non-existent; the color scheme isn't especially appealing; and my or my, what a busy, reader unfriendly layout. But guess what? You could sell a book there at no cost. Zilch. And take a look at this traffic rating:


Before you get excited about this, there are a number of reasons this venue wouldn't be an ongoing, viable alternative for you, but the point is that it points to a very real possibility for the emergence of something similar for booksellers. That's why it's important to keep you eyes and ears open - and to monitor those Alexa rankings on venues that are hovering below the big four, also those that are brand new. In the above list of 12 bookselling venues, there's one in particular that's grabbed some serious numbers in the past few months. Books are actually getting sold there. I'd tell you what it is, but that wouldn't be any fun. This will give you a chance to practice your investigative techniques.

Oh - I almost forgot. That other website, the one with the 83 ranking? Click here if you don't know what it is.

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