Showing posts with label secondhand market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label secondhand market. Show all posts

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The market for used books

There have always been markets for used books, and it's one of the markets that has been most changed by the internet. I recently received an email that seems to indicate another change, this one aimed at increasing the supply of used books. The email was from, and the subject line referred to a book I bought a few months ago: "Sell Back "36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction"

The message went on to say
Dear Customer,

Customers who purchased textbooks from may be interested in an easy way to get great prices for used titles through our Textbook Buyback Store.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The market for once-used wedding dresses

For Sale: One White Dress, Yet to Be Worn
"AS more brides try to sell their used wedding dresses online, some have found a way to stand out from the competition: putting their gowns up for sale before even walking down the aisle.
A growing number of postings for so-called presale dresses have popped up among the listings on sites like, and
"A used dress generally sells for about 50 percent off retail, whether sold before or after the wedding. But brides see an advantage to selling before the wedding because the styles are still current and other brides often can try on the same dress in stores. That, they say, enhances the likelihood of a quick sale.
"Zofia Gajdamowicz, 27, a bartender in Toronto who hopes to sell her Modern Trousseau dress before her wedding in late October, said she will “have to be a little more careful” if she finds a buyer.
“I already told my friends, ‘Don’t let me drink any red wine,’ ” she said."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Craigslist and spam

Wired has a long article about Craigslist and its founder; the tone is simultaneously admiring and baffled: Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess. It's well worth reading.

Here's one paragraph that stood out:
"The battle flows back and forth. Captchas—distorted words that can be interpreted by humans more easily than by machines—tamed spam on craigslist for a while. Then it came back full force, not because the spammers had solved the difficult problem in artificial intelligence but because they had hacked an easier problem in global economics. I recently established a friendly email dialog with a young man in Dhaka, Bangladesh, who works on a 13-person team that creates craigslist spam. He fills in Captchas, creates new accounts with masked IP addresses, and posts ads all day long using text from a database provided by his employer, an anonymous spam king. The going price for a spam post on craigslist is about 50 cents, with large discounts for volume. When I told Buckmaster about my new friend, he took the news calmly. "These are technically sophisticated people who take pride in their work, and when we knock them down they don't just decide to go find something else to do. You could say we are breeding the perfect spammer." "

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rental market for textbooks

Here's a story about, which rents textbooks: We Rent Movies, So Why Not Textbooks?

"Yet the Craigslist model didn’t work. When classes ended in the spring, sellers couldn’t find many buyers online and sold their used books to the college store, often for pennies on the dollar. By the time students migrated back to campus in the fall, willing online sellers were few and far between. "
"With demand for good deals on textbooks running high, Chegg’s success comes in large part from being able to address those inefficiencies. While Chegg primarily rents books, it is also essentially acting as a kind of “market maker,” gathering books from sellers at the end of a semester and renting — or sometimes selling — them to other students at the start of a new one. "

See also,,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Market for textbooks

The Washington Post has a story on the educational software company Aplia, founded by Paul Romer: An Economist, an Academic Puzzle and a Lot of Promise. It makes a number of interesting observations about the design of the textbook market, and how interactive software that gives students immediate feedback, and lets them participate in experimental economics style interactions, complements the traditional textbook and lecture style of instruction.

"Students seemed to like Aplia's engaging and easy-to-use software, as well as the feedback. Professors liked Aplia even more. It allowed them to leverage the grade-grubbing instincts of today's college students to get them to do homework -- but without having to spend countless hours reading and correcting the assignments. They also got reports from Aplia identifying which students were having the most trouble with the material and which concepts were stumping the class as a whole. "
"By relieving instructors of the considerable burden of reviewing homework assignments, the technology makes it possible for universities to require professors to teach more students, either by increasing class sizes or the number of classes they teach. More important, it frees instructors to spend more time preparing for class, working with individual students and even doing their own research. "

It may also allow publishers to circumvent the secondhand market for textbooks, as the software license can be separated from the book.

HT: Greg Mankiw

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rental market for textbooks

From Peter Klein at Organizations and Markets: Students: Consider Renting, not Buying, Your Books

"Chegg is the Netflix of college textbooks. Get your book in the mail, along with a prepaid return address label, don’t write in it too much, and send it back once the semester is over. I took a quick look and the savings appear to be substantial for brand-new books, modest otherwise (because there are robust secondary markets for used textbooks). The newest edition of a book I assigned last semester is $127 new from Amazon, $72 for a one-semester rental from Chegg."

HT Steve Leider

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Market for used books

The easy availability of internet shopping for used books hasn't just affected used book stores, it is having an effect on the sale of new books as well, much like internet downloading of music affects sales of recorded music. Here's a story from the NY Times: Bargain Hunting for Books, and Feeling Sheepish About It . It makes the point that people can (and do) now sell relatively new books once they have read them, and that this impacts stores that sell new books, and of course authors, since neither get a share of resales. Increasing the thickness of the used book market increases the 'velocity' of a book, i.e. the rate at which new books change hands. Each copy of a book gets more readers, but each title sells fewer new copies.

"A book search engine like can knit together 20,000 booksellers around the world offering tens of millions of nearly new, used or rare books."

"Andy Ross, the former owner of Cody’s, told me that buying books online “was not morally dubious, but it is tragic. It has a lot of unintended consequences for communities.”
Mr. Ross said he realized that Cody’s was doomed when he noticed that in the last year he hadn’t sold a single copy of that old-reliable for undergraduates, Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason.” Students presumably were buying it online. Sales of classics and other backlist titles used to be the financial engine of publishers and bookstores as well, allowing them to take chances on new authors. Clearly that model is breaking. Simon & Schuster, which laid off staffers this month, cited backlist sales as a particularly troubled area. "

Friday, October 24, 2008