Boris Wertz, COO of Abebooks.com, offered related advice on how to sell books to micro-markets. Like Lightning Source (see Monday's issue), Abebooks is living the Long Tail, Wertz said. The largest superstores offer 100,000 titles; Amazon has nearly 4 million titles; while Abebooks offers as many as 15 million from its 13,500 professional booksellers. (They have some 90 million new, used and out-of-print book listings. Last year sales amounted to $150 million.)
Many of Abebooks.com's booksellers are extremely specialized. For example, Dog Collector Books offers 2,592 titles for . . . dog collectors, and Food Heritage Press has 530 cookbooks. On the other hand, Astro-Logos Books, a POD company, has more than 240,000 titles available.
Echoing Chris Anderson of Wired magazine and author of the forthcoming Long Tail, Wertz emphasized that to connect with buyers, Abebooks.com and other companies working the Long Tail need "to create robust systems with strong search and filtering" mechanisms. To attract customers, he recommended pay-per-click ads on Google and Yahoo and using millions of key words. "Usually it costs 10 cents if someone clicks on an ad," Wertz said, estimating that even with one order, the return on investment can be 10,000%.
Companies "need to get all products into search engines so people who go there will find them." Companies should also partner with other Web sites. (More than 10,000 sites include Abebooks.com banners and product links.) Wertz noted, too, that "more and more people are using search engines to start the shopping process" even if they know the name of a store's Web site.
In one of many ways to retain buyers, Abebooks.com has a service under which a customer gives Abebooks the name of an author, title or keyword of interest to him or her. "We check our database daily," he said, "and if it matches, we send that person information about the new title in our database."
From Shelf Awareness