How Does the Used Book Market Affect New Book Sales?

A CNet/New York Times article discusses the used book market and its impact on new book sales. Amazon, which profits from both new and used book sales, is mentioned. Some interesting bits:

  • While Amazon is best known for selling new products, an estimated 23 percent of its sales are from used goods, many of them secondhand books.
  • …evidence suggests that the costs to publishers are not large, and also suggests that the overall gains from such secondhand markets outweigh any losses.
  • The presence of a market for used books makes consumers more willing to buy new books, because they can easily dispose of them later.
  • According to the researchers’ calculations, Amazon earns, on average, $5.29 for a new book and about $2.94 on a used book.
  • There are two distinct types of buyers: some purchase only new books, while others are quite happy to buy used books. As a result, the used market does not have a big impact in terms of lost sales in the new market.

The article references the research paper Internet Exchanges for Used Books: An Empirical Analysis of Welfare Implications and Policy Issues.


I personally have nothing against buying used books. Actually, my biblioholism makes it an economic necessity. Since I’ve been on vacation, I’ve been going through withdrawal. There is only one local used bookstore. (Egads! :O) And the selection and prices were not so hot. (Which is not to say I didn’t buy anything anyway. Did I mention I was a biblioholic?) Oh well. In a biblioholic sense, I can’t wait to get back home to the land of a dozen+ used book stores.