Update Announcements

by Craig Stark

#131, 19 January 2009

Today's QMR Book of the Month, A. Gary Shilling's How to Survive & Thrive in the Coming Wave of Deflation, is interesting to me on several counts. For a brief analysis of why a fairly common, ca. 1999 paperback is selling north of $150 see my article in this issue. This phenomenon is in itself of interest, of course, but also consider that an e-book version of this can be had for $20 or $25 and a Kindle version for $15. And yet the print version rings up impressive sales notwithstanding.

I don't for a moment believe this is happening because Shilling's print book has become collectible - I mean, please. Also, I seriously doubt that most buyers buy the print book because they prefer the print format. Perhaps some do, but if I was seeking Shilling's advice, I wouldn't pay $150 for the privilege of holding it in my hands - and I love holding books in my hands!

No, I believe that what's happening here is that many buyers simply aren't aware of the alternatives for acquiring this content - not yet, anyway. But I guarantee you that it's coming; in the not-too-distant future books like these will plunge in value (perhaps especially investment books because investors are more likely to be gadget users), and the consequences for booksellers who now depend on buying and selling so-called "content" books will be significant, if not altogether devastating.

Shilling urges investors to prepare for what's to come. I'm urging you to do the same with your bookselling business. Now is the time to start thinking about how you're going to offset the loss in value of a substantial portion of your inventory, assuming, that is, that you aren't already heavily engaged in collectible books. Better yet, start thinking about how you might be able to take advantage of the trend toward alternative formats - and I'm not necessarily suggesting that you attempt to enter the alternative format market. In the coming weeks we'll be publishing some possibilities.

Also today, our usual Gold Edition Quotation of the Month appears, and more importantly, Pamela Palmer's Top 10 on eBay. Her summary:

December 2008 was a good month for relative novices on eBay. Four of the 18 sellers (2 sellers sold 2 books each) had feedback in the single digits. The fiction top 10 included 3 copies of Twilight and 2 books by Haruki Murakami. Classic science fiction was represented by 1st editions of Ray Bradbury's Dark Carnival published by Arkham House and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The non-fiction top 10 included 3 1st editions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Beyond that it was diverse - from a pre-revolutionary history of St. Petersburg, Russia and Barack Obama to Mark Twain and Daytona Cobra coupes.

Finally, a reminder:

If you could use some additional bookselling info going into the 2009 season, good news. BookThink's complete back issues package goes on sale immediately for $99.99 - regularly $149.99. This includes all Gold Edition and 50/50s published to date. It does not include QMRs. Purchase it here.

Also, take a look at some of our new offerings in the store. Example, our Pick 5 for $15 deal: Select any combination of five Gold Editions or 50/50s for only $15 - regularly $25. Purchase it here.

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