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Combatting declining unit sales with higher prices?

The used-book trade draws much of the blame for declining book sales, which were highlighted in a Book Industry Study Group report released last week. According to the report, sales of new American books came in at 2.222-billion in 2003, down from 2.245-billion the year before. But Hillel Italie’s AP story on the report also notes that “Thanks to higher prices, net revenues did rise to $27.8 billion in 2003, a 2.5 percent increase.” And Italie hints that overpublishing may also be a factor — something that will no doubt occur to many visitors to BookExpo America as they roam the aisles of the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chiacgo next month.

In any case, Abebooks, the Victoria-based online used bookstore network, is only too happy to accept the blame for the dwindling demand for new books. An Abebooks press release issued last week cites the BISG study and two others: “Each study concludes that used books are taking market share from new book markets. However, Hannes Blum, CEO and president of online used book marketplace Abebooks, suggests that each study has underestimated the potential of the used book market.” Says Blum: “We’ve seen it coming: last year the number of used books sold on Abebooks.com rose to heights well beyond what the current studies are showing.”

Related links:
AP story on Book Industry Study Group report
Abebooks press release