How do you see the future for book selling?


I posted this question a few years back and had amazing responses and learned a lot from old veteran book sellers.

Just wondering after five years how many of the old book sellers are still around and how the market has changed and what your opinions are now .?


Yes. In my opinion the competition has increased , the prices have dropped , but i still have some hope, not as much as i did five years ago though.


"I can deal with market forces.

I have no clue what Amazon might do that impacts my strategy, I can continue this way until effectively my landlord raises my rent."

You hit the bulls eye as usual Lake. I basically understand the market forces too.

What Amazon will do is a scary question. I don"t know if physical books matter much to Amazon anymore.


My sales have gone up and up each year. And even with Amazon’s increase fees of $1.05 per book, I’ve almost double last years profit. I stock about 10,000 books


We old booksellers are still around after 25 years and not going anywhere (at least voluntarily), although the book business is changing constantly.


I am quite happy with my post on that thread.

My inventory is higher. My unit sales are higher/ And my profits are level.

I can deal with market forces.

I have no clue what Amazon might do that impacts my strategy, I can continue this way until effectively my landlord raises my rent.


I wasn’t on this forum then, but I had been selling books for awhile.

I was a “hobby” seller, not trying to make a living–but I did want to make a small profit. I always had some niche-market books, and I sold nothing lower than Very Good. I could never compete with the penny sellers so I just didn’t list books like that.

The recently increased fees made it so difficult to turn a profit that I’m out of the business now. I have to price too high to make it worth my while.


We are seeing a increase in books that are becoming restricted to sell unless authorized by the publisher or distributor.

This has become a recent development that I’m sure will increase in the future.


You are both full of it.
(BTW, anyone selling anything is at the mercy of market forces. Even erstwhile giants like Sears, Macy’s, and yes someday Amazon eventually do not understand those forces and fail.)


We sell books as that is the perfect excuse for looking for finds and our huge inventory we “someday” will list for sale because otherwise your relatives call you a hoarder! Luckily our other media makes real money!


A lot of booksellers are 5 years older.

Amazing what it does to fire.

Like collecting, a lot of the joy of bookselling is in buying, selling is work.

It gets hard to find things which excite you. Or at least which excite me.

And I periodically find myself in the state where the inventory I haven’t gotten around to dealing with is better than what I can buy. It does not make for feelings of joy.

Books that I thought not worth my effort are selling, and I have not had to compromise price targets.

I have had several pretty good careers but also sold books from when I was 16 years old. I’m almost 72, so I think bookselling qualifies as a character flaw.


OK, so where is the market heading?
The only thing that seems clear is that sooner or later almost nobody will read paper books, except a handful of collectors and paper die-hards. Eliminating paper will require further technical breakthroughs. I am not happy about the coming death of paper media, but that is the future of the market. Like Kodak and photographs.


What i am noticing by the responses this time compared to five years ago is that the enthusiasm and determination has waned . There doesn’t seem to be the " fire in the belly" or the "we will survive no matter what " that here was back then. Maybe the book sellers are not reading the forums much anymore?


It is true, buying and finding interesting stuff is more fun than selling lately. I am 62 and going back to my old career before bookselling is tempting, but books have a way of capturing your imagination, so much usefull and interesting information and knowledge.


What I meant by understanding market forces is not that I am God and can predict the future, but simply that by selling books for the last 10 years i see some trends and try my best to understand where the market is heading and what buyers are looking for. i cannot speak for Lake but I know tha he has been selling books even longer than i have , and i respect his opinions.


Of course we are affected by market forces but competence and experience makes us able to adapt.

Sears and Macy’s sealed their own dooms. The people who ran the companies didn’t understand the business they were in.

Sears ran the company like they were in the real estate business. The owners were.

Macy’s decided to sacrifice the regional store brands and loyalties and centralize buying, effectively telling many of their customers to take a hike, and they did.

Amazon’s mistakes, so far, are not the actions they have taken toward 3P sellers. They are the erratic pricing, and shipping times.

There are many more items one can buy for less. If Walmart doesn’t carry the item, Amazon’s price is higher than some smaller competitors.


I have completely gotten out of selling books to selling other products. I still have a few hundred old stock that are slowly being delisted and round filed but I am not adding new.


Sold books for only 3 years, at first it was killer, easy money. As the fees began to stack up it just became less interesting. My own products are much more lucrative so that is where I put my attention now.

Have a just a couple boxes of MF books to go and I’ll be out of that altogether. Really don’t even care if they sell. If not gone within 6 months will donate them.

My hat is off to those who remain.


Great thread… again!
So interesting to read all the predictions from years ago.
Been selling books on Amazon almost 10 years now… Book selling has changed, no doubt. But still a viable business if you work hard and keep learning. I’ve seen many longtime booksellers refuse to learn and phase themselves out. And I’ve seen many new faces with scanner in hand gone in a matter of months.
Seems we were all so frightened by e-readers five years ago. And they have cut deeply into the new fiction market. But there was never great resale value there anyway.
I do agree that Amazon and their ever changing fees, rules, and restrictions are the true gatekeepers of the used book market. It will be interesting to revisit this thread again in five years and see where we all have landed!


Ironically, a hot selling group of products this Christmas season were Fujifilms Instant Cameras.

An updated version of the old Polaroids.