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Libraries as Entrepreneurial Booksellers: Counterintuitive Cha-Ching
Bill Kane, Alibris
Walter Sears, Better World Books
Libraries have actually been selling books for centuries, but only with the advent of Internet technologies in the past decade have libraries been able to easily reach a worldwide audience of motivated book buyers. With just a few clicks, libraries are turning leftover booksale books, discards, de-accessions, and unwanted donations into real money – money which can be relatively seamlessly converted back into acquisitions/collection development funds, extending otherwise shrinking budgets.
Among other such bookselling sites, Alibris.com has created real-time turnkey user interfaces for both buyers and sellers, enabling libraries to upload listings very quickly, at nominal cost. Literally millions of local, regional, national, and international book buyers can thus peruse libraries’ for-sale inventory (alongside millions of other books, granted), ideally resulting in quick sales, almost all of which is almost always pure profit.
In addition, and likewise among other organizations of their ilk, Better World Books has devised mutually profitable services allowing libraries to off-load not only their books, but also most of the work involved in selling, as well as — via its donation programs — any latent guilt involved in exchanging unwanted books for money.
Finally, there are still other innovative ways for libraries to earn some per-click commissions by pointing patrons from a book on the library’s shelf (or just in the catalog) to another copy of the book on a bookseller’s for-sale shelves – and by “selling” books thus, affiliate links may pay off in more ways than just mutual goodwill.
Two speakers – librarians from both Alibris.com and Better World Books – will have 20 minutes each to discuss their respective programs and services, including real-time online demonstrations of bookselling and donation operations and metrics, leaving time for questions and/or testimonials. Download the first presentation and second presentation.
William P. Kane is Account Manager for Alibris for Libraries email@example.com
Walter Sears is Director of Library Division for Better World Books firstname.lastname@example.org