The Impact of
on eBay Bookselling

by Craig Stark

#127, 25 August 2008

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In an April 29, 2008 faux interview conducted by eBay CEO John Donohue, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar articulates his vision of a level playing field, a vision this venue was famously founded on:

"What I meant by level playing field is that everyone should be given an equal opportunity. I didn't want to have sort of artificial barriers placed on newcomers and to have people by virtue of their stature outside of the eBay community somehow be treated better - special deals behind the scenes because they're a big retailer and we want to get them to come on eBay, that kind of stuff. That would have been - is - a disaster. That is what I meant by level playing field."

The video clip is here.

I watched this video three times and each time came away with the impression that Omidyar was implying that this vision was still a driving force at eBay.

Wrong. At least one special deal has become an eBay reality. From eBay spokesperson Usher Lieberman:

"eBay is aggressively using price as a lever to improve the value and selection on Consistent with our goals, we have entered into a partnership with to bring their new-in-season merchandise onto We expect to learn a great deal from this partnership and we will build upon the results."

In-house eBay blogger Richard Brewer-Hay attempted to reconcile Omidyar's comments with this new partnership:

"It's my assertion that Pierre was talking about the conditions and approach to the Marketplace at the company's founding. It has obviously evolved since then and it's pretty clear that eBay has been, and continues to, expand and experiment with new pricing and business models on the site. Again, all geared at providing the best possible buyer experience."


"I asked how this could be economically feasible for to list that many listings in Core; my quick calculation put their 3-day listing fees at $600,000. I was told, both by eBay and, that this partnership was 'economically feasible' for both parties, but that no details would be released."

The blog is here.

>>>>> Article continues on next page >>>>>

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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