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  • Tech Note: Courtesies Extended to and in the Book Trade
    Here are some standard courtesies and seller etiquette in the book trade. Courtesies are reciprocal, and no dealer is obligated to offer them. I. Selling or buying from/to a dealer: 20% dealer-to-dealer discount in the US; often 10% in Europe/UK, enquire first. Payment is normally by check or cash, especially for high-value items. If the buyer is paying by check, be willing to ship the book with an invoice to a trusted seller and not require prepayment. Books should be ordered directly by email, phone, or bookseller’s own web site so as to avoid commission charges. Ask the seller if they prefer Paypal, credit card, or anything else that charges a fee to the seller, and also suggest that the discount could be reduced to offset the fees. Shipping by other than media mail costs may or may not be included. If you ask for a dealer discount, you should be prepared to reciprocate. You should also have your tax ID if requested, to prove your reseller status. It should be noted that Biblio has created a dealer-to-dealer model that allows booksellers to offer a discount percentage (minimum of 10%) without charge of any sales commission. This is easy to use but comes with credit card processing fees. As a result, some dealers offer a discount below the full 20% on Biblio. A direct call to the dealer may result in a higher discount. II. List-serv offerings: Are generally offered only on the list at the lowest firm price already unless the seller offers the standard discount to the trade in the description. “Price net to all” means no discount is offered, and generally, domestic shipping is included. III. AS IS – FINAL SALE: means you can’t return it if it fails to meet your expectations. You are advised to ask for photos before you buy the book(s). IV. Finder’s fee: A 10% commission paid to another dealer if they find a customer for your book, map, or ephemera. V. Courtesy referral fee: if a dealer refers you to someone selling a collection. VI. Send on approval: The book or work is sent to a trusted dealer who is considering purchase. This is usually reserved for books over three figures, but may be used for lower-value books as well. Make sure your description is thorough and note all flaws. Discuss and come to an agreement about who is responsible for return postage before shipping the book. VII. Returns and guarantees: These vary from “full refund if misdescribed,” to “90 days for any reason,” or no reason needed at all. Specifically state if you guarantee the authenticity of signatures or add a disclaimer if not. XIII. Co-selling: The participating parties all chip in to make the asking price, then the one with the most experience on the subject, or the surest customer, catalogs it, sells it, and splits the money equally among all. IX. Co-buying: Partnering with other sellers can benefit all. It spreads out the financial risk, doubles or triples the knowledge, and can make it easier to deal with collections offered in another state where one seller might be able to look at a collection more easily . To avoid misunderstandings later on, there should be a written agreement, even if just an informal one. X. Holds: If no prior agreement has been made for holding books, payment should be made immediately. If payment is not received, the seller should stipulate to the buyer that the book will be held for an arbitrary number of days pending payment, at which time the material will no longer be available. If at the close of the time period, payment has not been made, the seller will inform the buyer that the material is no longer available. XI. Consignment agreements: 1. should always be in writing. 2. should always list the title(s) or at least the number of books for large collections and estimated value. 3. should state consignment term, what will become of any items remaining after the consignment period is over, and who pays for the return. 4. should always include a line that the receiver of the merchandise will exercise all reasonable care, but is NOT responsible for loss or damage while on consignment. 5. should suggest that if insurance is desired the owner insure, not the dealer. 6. should have very clear terms and state when the dealer will remit payment to the consignor in the event of a sale; within 30 days is customary, but payment remittance may be shorter or longer. 7. should state that the Seller has the right to negotiate the final selling price, with any minimums to be accepted indicated per item, and the option to sell to dealers at a discount. 8. should state split arrangements, which vary from (Seller/Owner) splits of 40/60 to 70/30, based upon the value of the books involved and ease of selling. They are usually based upon the profit realized after all direct selling costs involved. An ABS (Antiquarian Book Seminar) suggested consignment arrangement is 70% to the item owner, less third-party fees. XII. Media mail: Media mail is appropriate for low value items, but it is not a good idea for more expensive books; it is worthwhile to upgrade to first class or priority for the speed, safety and built-in insurance. Books sent media mail to or from Hawaii take four to eight weeks to arrive because they go by sea where a great many bad things can happen to them. Please avoid sending anything to or from Hawaii by media mail. XIII. At the dealer’s place of business: When entering another dealer’s shop or office, tender your business card, or otherwise introduce yourself as a colleague. At this point you can be informed of any discounts to the trade, or other pertinent terms. Conversely, better not to do this after you scout the place, and approach the counter with a stack of books. Do not take out a scanner in another dealer’s place of business, (period), peruse the stock with it, and ask for discounts based on your findings. XIV. At fairs or shops: A booth at a trade show is a temporary place of business for a bookseller. It is not appropriate to solicit customers in a colleague’s booth (or shop) even if you know the customer well. Treat a dealer’s booth at a book fair just like their shop. Do not attempt to speak to customers in another dealer’s booth, or try to take them out of the booth to bring them over to your booth. Never interfere with the dealer’s conversation or business activity in their booth. XV. A little kindness at fairs: Offer to watch your neighbors’ booths at fairs while they get lunch or take a break. Walk a customer over to a colleague’s booth if you know that the other bookseller has material the customer wants. Thank the book fair promoter for all the work that went into a show, even if you yourself didn’t have a great fair. Tip the porters. Clean up after yourself. XVI. Unsolicited advice: Don’t comment on a colleague’s prices unless asked to. Don’t go into detailed explanations as to why you are not buying the material, unless specifically asked. XVII. A Real find!: Don’t buy a book or other item from a colleague, and then wave it in their face as a Real Bargain, or announce on the next trip that you tripled on the turnover of your last purchase. XVIII. Trading materials: Contact the other dealer first if you have books in their specialty or of interest to trade for theirs. Catalogued books have an inherently higher value than uncatalogued books. Due to the nature of the rare book trade, we often consider ourselves colleagues rather than competitors. While new sellers clearly benefit from a mentoring relationship with established dealers, it is sometimes uncomfortable to ask a question, and hopefully this list will be of help. Common courtesy goes a long way in the trade, and one’s time and expertise have value — hence, the reciprocal nature of these courtesies. *** This document was created by a collaborative effort of members of the IOBA and staff and graduates of the Colorado Antiquarian Book School. This effort was led by Morgan Brynnan of Uncommon Works during August of 2019. Many thanks to all who contributed. Please send comments to
  • Tech Note: New Form 2976-R International Shipments by USPS Requires ITN for Items Valued Over $2,500"
    The USPS has introduced a new Form 2976-R for high-value international shipments by Express Mail International or Priority Mail International. As of this writing, 2976-R does not appear to apply to shipments by USPS First Class Mail International. USPS Form 2976-R form introduces a required ITN for shipments containing any item valued at more than $2,500 and sent by the United States Postal Service to international locations, wherever a customs form is required. This note discusses those requirements. The new USPS Form 2976-R (USPS Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note) has been available for several months however individual post offices have been rolling them out at different times. Your local post office may have switched to the new form, requiring them for all International Priority Mail, which is now automatically insured for $200. (Note: this insurance applies only to certain countries. Please check your destination.) Check with your local post office to determine whether the new form is in use. View a PDF of a sample copy of the USPS Form 2976-R here. If you need additional information about shipping internationally, download a copy of USPS Publication 699, Special Requirements for Shipping Internationally. Please note this publication does not address the issue of shipments valued at $2500 or more, it apparently predates the new requirements. The new Form 2976-R has a required field for the ITN (Internal Transaction Number) WHEN the shipment contains items individually valued at $2500 or more. There are a few exceptions which are unlikely to arise in bookselling. To get an ITN, follow these steps: Register for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) with the IRS, if you don’t have one already. Open an ACE (Automated Export System) account with the USPS so that you can create ACE filings. Get an ITN for a particular shipment. Get an EIN if you do not have one: To register in ACE, use this information provided by the International Trade Management Division/Data Collection Branch, U.S. Census Bureau. (Note from Stephen Clauser: “I found it takes a little thinking to complete the form properly.”) Register for an ACE account here: The AESDirect User Guide (PDF) will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to file. Once you have created your account, log in by clicking the “Accounts” tab. Then view “Exporter” under “Select Account Type” and press “Go.” Select “Submit AES Direct Filings” to begin filing your records. Additional support is available by email ( or at: AES Client Support International Trade Management Division/Data Collection Branch U.S. Census Bureau Call Center: 800-549-0595 Option 1 Create an individual ITN for a particular shipment by signing into your EAS account as described above. (Note from Stephen Clauser: “I found that creating individual ITNs required some thinking, but there is an explanatory help for each field that arises by placing your cursor on the symbol to the right of the field, as I remember.”) If for some reason your initial ACE sign-in attempt doesn’t work, follow this information from AES Client Support: “If your account is disabled, please contact the ACE Account Service Desk at 1-866-530-4172 using option 1, followed by option 2, and they will assist you with your account access.” The Form 2976-R is not ordinarily available in hard copy unless your Post Office is willing to give you some; the PO uses the forms to collect the data to generate a mailing label at the counter. (Per Stephen: I got a few and will get more in the future.) Glossary: Form 2976-R: USPS Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note ACE: Advanced Computing Environment AES: Automated Export System ITN: Internal Transaction Number The preceding information was compiled from IOBA “Discuss” posts on September 24, 2016 by: Stephen Clauser of Arroyo Seco Books P. O. Box 94292 Pasadena, CA 91109 626-372-3863 [cellular] Please send comments, additions, corrections to
  • Tech Note: How to Use AbeBooks Exclusions to Maintain a High Fulfillment Rate/5 Star Rating
    Way back in 1993, when the Internet was young and the Wide World Web was the Wild Wild West, Peter Steiner (cartoonist for The New Yorker) produced a cartoon showing one dog sitting on a chair in front of a computer, telling a second dog sitting on the floor that, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Today, booksellers depend on book buyers knowing that they are not four-legged furry creatures, but honest trustworthy businesses. AbeBooks 5-Star Rating is just one of many measurement tools buyers look for to validate the business reputations of online sellers. This tech note describes how you can manage and maintain your good rating while selling on AbeBooks. A 5-Star Rating on AbeBooks – which buyers see when they look at your book listings – is computed from the shipment fulfillment rate. The completion rate percentages are translated into a bookseller rating system based on these tiers: 96 – 100% = 5 stars 90 – 95% = 4 stars 85 – 89% = 3 stars 70 – 84% = 2 stars 0 – 69% = 1 star AbeBooks rounds up, so 95.6% = 96%, 5 stars. By contrast, Alibris does NOT round up. If your rating is less than 4 or 5 stars, you can use up to 3 “exclusions” per year to improve your rating. Chris recommends that you not use all 3 unless you really need them, since you only get 3 per year and the rating period covers 6 months. It is always good to have at least one exclusion in reserve in case of need. Note: The fewer books you actually sell on Abe the more significant the exclusions can be. Follow these steps to maintain a 5-star rating or to move from 3 stars to 4 stars. It requires a lot of clicking, but is otherwise automatic. 1. If the completion rate on the top left of the member menu shows less than 5 stars, click on “completion rate.” You will then be able to see your orders and ratings for the current month and for the current rating period – that is, the previous 6 months. Ratings are updated twice a month, at the middle and end of each month. For both the current month and the 6-month rating period overview, you will see listed any unfulfilled items and returned items, however exclusions can only be processed using the screen for an individual month, the 6-month overview screen. If the current month does not show any unfulfilled items, go back month by month until you come to the most recent unfulfilled item. 2. Click on the number under “unfulfilled” and you will see a list of various reasons for the lack of fulfillment. Pick any one, “item previously sold” for example, and click on the number again – and you will see the title of the book in a box underneath. 3. On the far right in line with the book title is a link to “request status change.” After you click this link, you will get a message in red showing how many exclusions you have used. (If you have already used 3, you are out of luck, until one rolls off.) There is a box for you to write in the reason why you are requesting the exclusion… You must put something in the box. For example, just say “couldn’t find book” or “book already sold” or whatever. No need for a long excuse or justification. Hit the submit button. 4. Calculating how many exclusions you need to use. Chris offers this excellent tutorial on determining how many exclusions will get you to 5 stars: If you had 72 orders for the rating period and you filled 68, your percentage is 68/72= 94.44 or 4 stars. If you just exclude one, that will make it 68/71 or 95.7% or 5 stars – thanks to Abebooks’ rounding process. If you had 74 orders and you only filled 68, that would be 68/74 or 91.8% and you would need to use all 3 of your exclusions to get back to 5 stars. Go ahead and use them all if you need to get your ratings up, just don’t waste them if you don’t need them. Exclude the most recent orders you weren’t able to fill so the “exclusion” will help your ratings the maximum amount of time. Be strategic here – if you had a disastrous month 5 months ago, it might not have affected your rate that much. What if then, for example, you put your book sales on vacation and had no orders for a month? The good month prior to the disaster fell off, and your rate could look bad all of a sudden. If all your exclusions would be 5 months old, you might just want to wait another month until they are no longer in the 6-month rating period rather than use them all up. 5. The following reasons for rejecting an order or for requesting cancellation or refunds do not affect your rates DIRECTLY: Returns because “Buyer does not want item” Partial refunds Incomplete sales (seller-direct orders where you don’t receive payment) Buyer cancels before shipping Orders rejected due to buyer rejection of a request for extra charges But they can affect it INDIRECTLY! If you had 23 orders during the 6 months and filled 22 of them, your rate would be 22/23 or 95.6% or 5 stars. If one book were returned as buyer does not want item, or if you give one partial refund, your rate would now be 21/22 or 95.4% or 4 stars. SOME BRIEF NOTES REGARDING BIBLIO AND ALIBRIS Biblio uses the same percentages as AbeBooks but their rating period is only 3 months, and they automatically exclude one unfilled order each 3-month period. If you have a legitimate reason for not filling an order on Biblio, you can use “request cancellation” option rather than simply rejecting the order. Biblio will evaluate it and if they approve it, it will not count against you or use up your automatic exclusion. Alibris theoretically will give up to 6 exemptions a year – but you usually have to ask for them, and they have to be for reasons Alibris considers acceptable. AbeBooks customers can cancel orders themselves until the order is actually processed by the seller. So if you are buying a book from another IOBA member, for example, and they say that they can’t find the book, go ahead and be helpful and cancel your order yourself. We would like to see all IOBA members with 5 stars next to their names. Compiled by: Chris Volk of PO Box 696 Ione, CA 95640, USA Telephone: 209-274-6960 Email: Website: Please send comments to Last updated September 24, 2016.
  • Tech Note: How I Filter Out Scams and Pfishing
    Now that all my friends and many of my associates and I are in our mature years, I see a good number of them showing reasonable concerns regarding criminals attempting to trick them through internet emails and links and messages. This past week saw one of those brought to the attention of our August Association, and I thought maybe these few tricks of mine might be helpful to share. Here comes the unfamiliar, alarming, surprising, or unbelievable email from your friend or associate. At least it is in their name. Or it LOOKS like it is in their name. Odd that they are asking you to send them money or donate to an unfamiliar cause. Of course we don’t believe that anyone is offering to send us millions and billions from exotic places, but what about those others? One of the first things to look at is the source in the address of the email. Ask: Does my friend live in the country denoted at the end of the dot-com source? Many countries have their location embedded in their email. hk is Hong Kong, and would look like this:, or Taking a moment to see what is included in the email address can clearly reveal a false email before you have to read any farther. This link lists the country suffixes used by internet domains. If the email is pretending to be from a company with which you do business, does that company usually send mail from (Djibouti)? The email address at the top is a quick and useful way to determine if the communication is authentic. Most online businesses have their own dot com and usually do not address you as “Blessings to you Madam in Christ’s Name” in a business communication. Within IOBA we can also verify our associates by looking at their contact information at It only takes a few minutes to verify the authenticity of a return address. Another thing that gives most of these away is the terrible grammar and the peculiar ways the writers address you. We read. We write communications. Some of these are so ridiculous I post them on social media for a laugh. If the message is immediately difficult to take seriously (“I can advise certain product,” or “if you can get this done now.”), go back and check for the clues in the email address. Serious business people do not compose their business correspondence in Pigeon English. Take a moment, look at the source, read a sentence or two, and discard that which is false (and often ridiculous). Trust your wisdom and experience. Woe to any who try and scam me on the phone…. I have sold Florida Vacations by cold-calling. Abandon Hope All Ye Who Dial This Number. -Candace The M.A.D. House Artists
  • Tech Note: Useful Links
    A part of our collective knowledge comes from knowing how to makes use of the wide variety of resources that are now available on the Internet. This note will list some of those sources of information related to books and bookselling. First Edition Criteria and Points for Book Identification. This site provides detailed information and images for the points that properly describe a first edition/first printing of a title. Only a limited number of titles are covered which generally represent the high points of modern fiction. ORDEROFBOOKS.COM: Complete List of All Book Series in Order, This site addresses at least principally authors of modern fiction. For the authors included it provides a reasonably complete listing of titles and years of publication. It is not indexed alphabetically; the simplest way to find a given author is to use the Search box provided.with their last and first names. A reference for Used and Rare Books, Periodicals, and Paper Ephemera courtesy of an International Co-Op of Independent Dealers. TomFolio was for many years operating as a cooperative group of booksellers with their own web site to promote sales. The sales site is no longer in operation, but they are continuing to maintain several features of interest. These include pages of Author Information, Author Signatures and Book Awards. The author information and signature pages focus on signatures of authors and form a collection of examples gathered over time by their members and believed to be genuine. The award pages list the winners of various book awards such as the Caldecott Medal and Pulitzer Prizes. Deciphering Fraktur. The term Fraktur refers to the old form of the letters of the German alphabet. This font is seen in most German-language books dating from prior to World War II. These pages can be difficult to make sense of for English-language readers. One of our members, Alice Voith of My Wings Books, has created a page to describe how to make sense of these The page is linked . Children’s Picturebook COLLECTING. Offering Information on Contemporary Illustrated Books. Offers first edition points and value estimates for a good many of the higher priced modern children’s books. Includes information about the history of postcards, lists of publishers and artists, guides to printing techniques, different kinds of real photo postcards and much more. Offers series title lists, images and other publication details for a large number of publishers. Publishers are listed by country for the UK, US and the rest of the world. USPS International Shipping – Service Alerts. Details on service disruptions and other issues for shipping from the United States to each foreign country. Book Sale Finder. A list of non-profit book sales, arranged by state. Book Fairs, A list of book fairs arranged in chronological sequence.
  • Tech Note: Bookjacking
    [Andrew Langer, Andrew Langer, Bookseller (Editor)]: Bookjackers are a part of the world of Internet selling for booksellers. These are sellers that work with data describing books and not with the books themselves. They use databases with basic information about books and use automated pricing to offer copies at the top and sometimes also at the bottom of the market. When an order is received by one, they place an order with a seller offering an actual copy of the title. This topic is in large part derived from a conversation held on the IOBA Discuss list between June 5 and June 8, 2020 and is solely for use of IOBA members. IOBA members are expected generally to offer refunds to customers where requested. Bookjackers generally are abusing both their customers who are charged more than market forces dictate and the sellers that actually offer the product. The complete conversation can be found in the Discuss archives under the topic “ethical question”. [Peter Dast, Bookworks (PD)]: Accidentally accepted an ABE purchase from a bookjacker. As I suspected, the book is not what the ultimate buyer wanted. As they have selected ‘book not wanted’, I could, by ABE’s rules, decline the return. As an IOBA member, though, I feel I should exhibit a higher moral character and allow it. Thoughts? [Jim Stachow, RareNonFiction (JS)]: Should IOBA have a specific (sub-rosa?) policy to handle situations like this? I favour a policy of allowing IOBA members to refuse such bookjacker return requests. [Chris Volk, (CV)]: I wouldn’t consider this an ethical question. It is the responsibility of bookjacker to accept the return and refund the buyer (and keep the book themselves to resell it later. [Kathlyn H. Stewart, Gargoyle Books (KS)]: I have long wondered about these buyers & who exactly they are. Could y’all explain who “bookjackers” are & how they operate? [Wesley Marquand, RugBooks (WM)]: Zubal said it best: [Editor]: Zubal Books is a large Internet seller, but not a member of IOBA. This detailed article explains what bookjackers are, and also provides an extensive list naming names of some of these sellers. Zubal also wrote a follow-on article with additional details that includes a number of specific examples. [Stephen Clauser, Arroyo Seco Books (SC)]: Aside from defining the term, where do these people list that they can buy from us at retail to a client they’ve presumably sold to over the internet? I’ll have to admit that once in exasperation I raised US shipping for a $30 book to $75 or so and explained it as a “reseller processing fee”. They refused the extra charge of course. [KS]: Thanks so much! very helpful!!!! So how do you stop from selling TO them, or being the legitimate dealer whose listing they “jack”? [WM]: My unsubstantiated theory is that they list our books where we don’t. Stealing descriptions and images is annoying but ultimately my books get to people who want them and if someone makes a buck doing it I can’t blame them. I’m a middleman too. I think attitudes on this issue are highly dependent on your inventory as well. None of my customers care about edition. The vast majority of my books have only seen a single edition. I don’t think I’ve ever had a single bookjacker return but I’ll take returns for any reason. [CV]: These data uploading parasites (as I prefer to call them) are primarily selling on Amazon, but they are also selling on Abebooks, Biblio and Alibris – Unfortunately, if they order a book from you on amazon, it is virtually impossible to tell – the only clue might be a different name as buyer than the ship to address (but most of those are totally legit). In fact, one way to partially protect yourself from them is to list on Amazon – they seem to order more on Abebooks. I don’t think we have gotten any orders from these parasites on Biblio – but we have on Abebooks – and the key is the email address – among those used (but they can change) are abe@marketplacebuyers – and similar – I’m sure others can come up with more questionable email addresses – it is easy to accidentally accept such an order. I don’t routinely look at the email address before pulling the book, etc. if you accept one, be prepared for a deluge. If you use the tactic of asking for a lot of extra shipping, then after doing that a couple of times, they will go away for a while – or at least that has been our experience – but they will be back! To address “why” people buy from them, even though there might be cheaper copies out there. Maybe the seller with the real copy said “previous owner’s name on front endpaper” and a customer says well, I don’t want a copy with someone else’s name in it, so I will order this one described as “very good” with no details – and then they get your copy after all! for example, we listed an exlib copy of a very collectible and kind of uncommon title in worn condition at a low price. I think we got 4 bookjacker orders for that on different sites. I am quite sure that NONE of the bookjacker’s listings said “worn exlib” I was almost ready to just take if offline altogether when it sold to a real buyer.. There is also a tendency to think that if a copy is priced higher, that should mean it is a better copy. Remember, even frequent online buyers – even those who consider themselves relatively knowledgeable about buying on line – including some of our customers whom I have been trying to educate for years – might know these sellers exist, but they have absolutely no grasp of how pervasive these sellers are. A book which is genuinely uncommon with 2 or 3 real copies might have 10 fakes listed on Abebooks (I don’t even try and count them on Amazon). I remember buying an uncommon local history (from a real bookseller) – and after he removed his copy from online, all of the other listings on ViaLibri disappeared within hours, because there was no longer a “real” copy listed (and hasn’t been for years now) – One thing to remember is that not all sellers dislike these orders. There are many who take the attitude “I got my price so who cares what he sells it for” – and these sellers also create what I see as a false equivalency: We ALL buy books from other sellers and increase the price – the difference is that we BUY the books first, take the risk, spend our money, catalogue them and store them based on the fact that we felt the other seller had underpriced it. These data uploaders take no risk, do not spend a dime until they have an order – AND their entire business is built on the lie that they pretend to have the books in stock. [Editor]: Bookjackers maintain a list of cooperative sellers as well as books. offers the best way to get a sense of the market at present. It is possible to see all copies of a title, including those from the bookjackers as well as those offering actual copies. Consider using a loose search. Try to find only a few, perhaps only three words that fully describe the book – one from the author, another from the title and one more from the publisher, and search using Keywords when searching. This offers the widest view of the complete market for a given title with a real picture of the scarcity of the words written within, and it also shows vividly the activities of the bookjackers. [CV]: Bookjackers do NOT steal descriptions and images – in fact, they don’t have any descriptions – they just use the basic product info (title, author, publisher) and a grade (often multiple grades – the same seller will often list a title 2 to 4 times – as new and as used-like new; used-very good, and used-good) and maybe they will include some boilerplate that might warn about wear or missing cds or whatever or just offer fast shipping. [Heidi Congalton, Between the Covers (HC]: When they order from us via Abebooks we ask for about $100 extra shipping, waiting until the last day possible. They will reject it, and we can reject the order. When they order from us via Amazon we also wait until the last day possible then reject the order taking the “hit”. You can’t always identify them, but if you ask here (on the Discuss list) you’ll get some clues. Over the years we have built a running list of names we know we won’t sell to. One thing that helps is searching the email address in your database (please, tell me you all have a database by now) and seeing what other addresses they’ve had you ship to. We usually catch them, but sometimes they’ve ordered twice before we caught on. [PD]: The refund request is through the original Abebooks order, so it’s the ‘jacker” – GlassFrogBooks, in this case, using their abe@marketplacebuyers email – just got ANOTHER order from them, using their actual phone number, which I googled. I’ll decline the request, explaining that I won’t be held responsible for them misrepresenting MY books. I find these orders to be handy in identifying which books I should get onto Amazon, since I no longer upload all listings there. [CV]: As a sign of how pervasive these sellers are, I was looking at Abebooks search results for a relatively recent book – 1997 – and saw 7 results, 6 from bookjackers On Abebooks, in this search anyhow, one of the bookjackers – ergode – had both the lowest and highest prices at 14 and 64 – When I checked on viaLibri, lots of copies show up, even though I have blocked though most of the jackers – on eBay and elsewhere – but on some of the amazon international sites, prices are up over $1K Their overwhelming presence makes it inevitable that they will sell “some” books [Editor]: ViaLibri offers hints on the use of their search by a link at the bottom of the page as Search Help. There are many useful tips there. With an account it is possible to save a set of permanent exclusions. If you include the name of a bookjacker as an exclusion of Keywords then they will be excluded from the results. I do not prefer to do this as I want to see the true state of the market even though I must ignore certain listings when setting prices. [William Chrisant, Old Florida Book Shop (WC)]: I’ve been listening to this debate on & off over the years but have never understood what the fuss was all about. If someone puts a book up and a high-jacker buys it haven’t they (the listing bookseller) made a sale at their asking price? Why is everyone saying it’s overpriced when price is defined by willing buyer-willing seller? Shouldn’t they be saying it was possibly poorly researched & so underpriced by the initial lister who’s now complaining about the profit someone (or something) else is now making? [Doug Nelson, Nelson Rare Books (DN)]: The issue here it is a bit different though – the bookjackers are trying to return the book – not because the actual bookseller described it wrong, but rather because the bookjacker’s algorithm described it wrong. If the return is accepted then there is no sale. The actual bookseller had to pack and ship the book, process the return, etc., while the bookjacker did nothing but operate a faulty algorithm. So the ultimate question here is who should bear the burden of the bookjacker’s faulty algorithm, the actual bookseller or the bookjacker? I would argue it should be the bookjacker. [Nialle Sylvan, The Haunted Bookshop (NS)]: I’m happy to sell any of my inventory direct to the “end user” in all reasonable circumstances. In cases where I have no personal investment – particular love for the book and archival value are as important to me as high dollar value – so — in cases where I’m just making my living, I don’t mind selling through bookjackers, though I use my discretion based on positive or negative experiences per buyer (Glass Frog can eat dust; too many bad experiences with dubious nondelivery claims). That said, I sell a lot of university press in VG or better condition and tend not to list books with user marks, so since my stuff is almost always what the market wants, I incur little risk. Where I have problems with bookjackers is where they get the profit and I get the liability. It’s my place to vet my buyers. If I don’t have contact with the buyers, I can decide that the buyer has not been vetted adequately. I also reserve the right to request more secure delivery methods for books with more cultural value, and if bookjackers can’t accept that, welp, their loss. It’s my place to protect my buyers, so if I believe they’ve overpaid for a book (because I know that seller marks up without regard to the actual value of the book, e.g., those indiscriminate Monsoon users), I won’t ship. Maintaining the market is part of my job, too. I usually won’t fight over ten bucks, but I absolutely will refuse when a naive customer pays double the reasonable price. I’m not whining about other people making a profit where it’s legal for them to do so, but I absolutely am protecting my books, name, and clients when I choose not to ship because I don’t want the books, my reputation, or the end-user to get dinged. If that means I turn down getting the price I asked, well, it’s fair of me to ask more when there’s higher liability. For potentially broad definitions of liability. That said… loving the discussion here. Even when I disagree, the level of the discussion makes me even more glad I joined. [Editor]: It can be helpful to request a signature on delivery and not just delivery confirmation. This is important as the cost rises, but it nearly eliminates the risk of claims for non-delivery where concerned. [CV]: The question which started this off related to a return. in other words, a lot of work is being done because of the bookjacker’s “let’s fill this at the cheapest price we can find” attitude. The more significant issue, in my opinion is the negative effect these sellers have on the marketplace. A marketplace we all participate in, and try to make a living in. The reality is that these bookjackers are listing, in enormous numbers – in the millions each for most of them – on precisely the sites which we count on to sell our own books. The only major marketplace which has succeeded in keeping them off is eBay. Do you think that it is an “honest” marketplace when a search on Abebooks brings up 7 copies, only one of which is being offered by a bookseller who actually has a copy? Don’t you see that as damaging to actual book-owning sellers? It is not a question of getting what I want for the book, it is – for me – a question of doing my tiny bit in not enabling these data uploaders to succeed and prosper. To me the willing buyer/willing seller idea falls down when the buyer is unaware of the truth of the situation – that is, that the seller does not actually have the book. In other words, the buyer has been duped. Obviously, others might make a different decision – and have good reasons for doing so. But seriously, far from complaining about the profit that another seller might make from reselling one of our books, we offer a 20% discount to help make sure that they WILL make a profit – and if I underprice a book and another seller realizes that, that is fine too. [Amy Ione, Diatrope Books (AI)]: To add my two cents, I would probably tell them to return the book to me with a notation that I will issue a refund if the book didn’t match my description. Given that the bookjacker probably doesn’t have the book to return, no refund would be necessary because nothing would come back. If they sent a different book, I would refuse the refund given that they didn’t return the book I mailed. Also, while not a return problem, I’m wondering if people completely ignore the bookjackers business model when they price their books. I frequently find when I’m listing an item that all (or most) of the listed copies on Amazon are bookjacker copies, and yet there are lower priced copies of the title available on ABE. Indeed, one of the reasons I continue to list on Amazon is so that a customer can buy the book from me, rather than buying an overpriced bookjacker copy on Amazon from a seller who will buy the copy elsewhere to fulfill his or her Amazon order. The upshot of this is that when assigning a price to my item the radical differences between sites always gives me pause. What irks me as much as the ghost copies is that there may be one legitimate listing on Amazon that has the high price because that vendor is using a re-pricing tool. Better World Books often falls into this category, although not really a good example given their business model. In any case, once I list my item for what I consider a fair price, the re-pricer driven items will re-price their book to something below mine. It is like a game. If I then raise my price they raise theirs too. It can go on and on indefinitely, although I don’t play the game. I guess there isn’t much that can be done about the price variations but I must admit that I find them offensive as both a buyer and a seller. [Editor]: I consider the quantity of books on offer but generally ignore bookjacker prices. I also sometimes ignore the one lowest price when it seems out of line and assume mine will be the second copy sold. Data-driven repricing algorithms and the Better World Book model, where libraries “contribute” books in exchange for a percentage of the sales price are another issue equally worthy of discussion. [Ken Amos, Nightshade Booksellers (KA)]: I realized when I bought a book from Irish Booksellers that you might not get a book at all— just a continuing series of excuses: “it’s in another warehouse”, “it was misplaced but we are looking for it” etc… I did get a refund since I bought it from ABE but I could easily see how they could string out a buyer for weeks and months until the buyer lost track and they kept the money. I asked ABE one time if they had a recommendation on dealing with bookjackers and they suggested what others on this thread have mentioned— add additional shipping charges to the order. To answer whether I price according the the Bookjackers — I do not. I am concerned when I price a book that I do not undercut legitimate dealers but I can’t worry about the weird pricing of Ergode books or Glass Frog. And to respond to the question about why we should worry about these jackers at all since they are paying full retail; to me it goes to the issue of books as unique objects, not commodities. People buy based on intangible issues— including paying more for the same book than they need to. There is a reason many restaurateurs make the 2nd or 3rd cheapest wine on their menus the most overpriced based on value— customers don’t trust the cheapest wine on the list- even though cheap might be the best book! I hate it that real dealers lose a sale to these people who have no books on hand and would not be able to advise clients or even answer questions directly. It demeans the art of bookselling, which at the risk of sounding corny, has a long a distinguished history that I am proud to be a part of. [Editor]: When the true seller of a book strings the bookjacker along, they must do the same thing to the buyer. This creates a ripple effect and a decline in service which we all strive to offer. Additionally, if they cannot locate a copy of a book under acceptable terms, they might be offering the excuse of lost in transit rather than admitting the title is not available. This excuse does not get a mark placed against them by Abebooks, Biblio, etc. [John Howell, John Howell for Books (JH)]: The majority of my ABE buyers are anonymous to me. I would guess 90% of the customers who buy from me on ABE and are end users who got what they hoped to get when they placed an order for one of my books. I base this opinion on the number of return requests I get through these venues, which are negligible. However, I often get requests to provide images in advance of a purchase, or other questions that absorb a lot of my time to provide. Sometimes I give the requester some push back on fulfilling their request, and a goodly number of those who reply sound like to me legitimate buyers who have been burned in the past, and do not trust the online market places, and the sellers they meet on these venues. So, I don’t know how to “protect” a buyer, who may be one of these operations that list copies of the same book I have at (what seems to me) a ludicrously high price. If an end user selects the higher priced book and places an order, and the “book jacker” who listed the item at that high price buys my copy to be shipped to the end user…. It would seem to me by this logic, I would be obligated to the lister at the high price to protect their interests. That seems kinda awkward to me. What would be ideal would be that the lister at the exorbitant price were not polluting the marketplaces that IOBA members play in. But we do not own those market places, and many of our email threads on IOBA Discuss document the degree to which those who provide these marketplaces could care a whit about the interests of IOBA members. I don’t know where any of this leaves us, other than an acknowledgement that we operate in corrupt marketplaces and there is not much we can do about it. [CV]: Are we accomplices or are we battling against the corruption by listing on these sites? I know a few sellers – and probably more every month – have opted to leave Abe and Amazon for various reasons. But are we all to fold up our tents and leave the dishonest sellers as victors? There are almost 12,000 sellers on AbeBooks – and I am sure that there are fewer than 50 bookjackers there. But this relatively small number of listers account for a huge number of books – especially if the book is a relatively uncommon ISBN title – After all, it is a lot easier to upload a list of 2 million books than it is to actually store and catalogue them! There are a lot more bookjackers on Amazon, but there are also far more legitimate sellers there. If legitimate sellers flee some of the most searched internet sites aren’t we leaving buyers with fewer options than if we stick around? Another example from the books I am listing today – the 1995 hardcover edition of “The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells” – On Abe, there are only 3 hardcovers, from $49 to 64, all listed by bookjackers. Moving over to amazon, there are 2 hc copies being offered by Goodwill at $32 so we can have a pretty good idea of what the bookjackers are pricing off of – and there are 2 jackers’ copies there (different seller names) at $84 and $88 So should I not list our fine/fine first edition on Abe or Amazon just because these sites allow dishonest sellers to abuse the platform? Even has some bookjackers on the site – Relatively few bookjackers are “pure” relisters of out-of-print books. Some also list remainders very cheaply (legit, since they can order these from remainder houses which offer single book shipping) and new in print books (also legit for the same reason). This makes it more difficult for the sites to crack down on them (assuming they even want to) and it assures that they do have some “satisfied” customers. [CV]: Our experience on AbeBooks when it comes to buyers is far different than you (JH) describe. It was several years ago, that I realized that we were getting enough “repeat customers” on Abebooks that I would want to track them. My tracking isn’t perfect, but of the orders placed on AbeBooks over the past 3 years, more than 15% were from repeat customers. Probably 20% or more of those designated as “repeat customers” who buy directly from us, first bought from us on Abebooks. Some go back and forth between Abebooks, Biblio, our website, etc. A sort of long distance friendship has even sprung up with some buyers. While that still leaves the majority of our sales as “one-offs” I don’t consider the Internet “anonymous” – which is probably partly why I feel so strongly about bookjackers. The fact that we get a lot of repeat customers is mostly due to the nature of our inventory – and the fact that we have a lot of books listed – so a customer who collects modern firsts, or mysteries, or science fiction or poetry, or even just a specific author, will be able to find more books in our inventory pretty easily. ironically, as our sales have increased in the last couple of months, the percentage of repeat customers on abe has decreased – I attribute this to more people beginning to buy more books online. [Steven Temple, Steven Temple Books (ST)]: Bravo! So seldom said – an actual knowledgeable professional bookseller doesn’t just sell books, he sells his judgement. he must sometimes protect people from themselves, not to mention from people who think anything goes, since they don’t have any reputation to protect. [Jeremy Moberg-Sarver, 86 Books (JMS)]: Someone on this discussion asked essentially ‘What’s the problem with bookjackers? If you are getting the price you are asking for then there’s no real issue with the bottom line?’. I get the sentiment, in theory, but there are reasons that their practices are becoming more insidious. Here are two examples that are directly affecting the bottom line for my store: 1) Just yesterday, I received an Amazon A-to-Z Claim. I’m not sure that I had ever had that type of claim against my store, as I am always able to work out a refund or understanding with my customers without ‘escalating’ the situation to a claim. The ‘customer’ had not contacted me, but here was the Amazon claim, already decided in favor of the ‘customer’. After looking a little closer, it was, in fact, the infamous “ergodebooks”, which I had not noted when I had made the sale, Their message to Amazon was “I havent (sic) received my item yet. I want my refund.” And take my money, they did. And, of course, I cannot contact the actual recipient of the package to see if this was true, because all I have is their mailing address. I am considering writing a letter to the end-customer to see if the package was actually delivered. 2) The other problem is also Amazon-specific. In addition to books, I sell a lot of rare Audio CD’s to collectors. In both the Books & CD’s categories at Amazon, bookjackers have been creating numerous (millions of) “Duplicate Pages” for existing Amazon Detail Pages. Over time, Amazon’s search algorithm has been picking up these Duplicate Pages with increasing frequency and it has been absolutely devastating the CD category. While Duplicate Pages are also there for books, they don’t seem yet to be completely taking over in the way that they are for CD’s, but I am going to provide a couple of examples so that people recognize what is happening when this starts affecting the Books category more often, which I have no doubt it will start doing soon. Be aware! Here is how it works: Example 1: This OOP Michael Chapman CD is being sold by my store for $19.98. It’s in the 2nd listing, which is the “official” Amazon-created page for the CD. It appears to be out of stock because of another change that Amazon recently made where they suppress prices for listings where there is not a ‘new’ Buy Box winner. But the bookjacker (CDjacker in this instance) is sure visible for the listing with a Buy Box win at a whopping $898.87! If I were an Amazon customer looking for this CD, I would probably it is only available for nearly $900 and not make a purchase. Example 2: Here you ONLY see two bookjacker pages with prices between $900-$1000. These are Seller-created Duplicate Pages. The only way to find the ‘real’ page is to click the link for the 1st Duplicate Page (the one with a 5-star review), then click on ‘See all 3 formats and editions’, then click on the ‘carrot’ to the left of the listing, ignore the third Duplicate page and then finally see that you can purchase this CD for only $9.04. I doubt many customers make it through all of these steps. I am sure if you had made it this far, you are possibly thinking two things:” I sell books, not CD’s” and “this further proves that the Amazon catalog is a mess”. Yes, these examples are for CD’s, which most of you probably do not sell, but the issue has been slowly creeping up and taking over the CD category over the past year and will be coming for books soon! And, yes, many of you do not even sell on Amazon for reasons like these and others. But there are many of us who do sell on Amazon. It is a powerful, well-known platform and accounts for over half of my revenue and presumably for others, as well. I have known about bookjackers for many years, but I wouldn’t even have considered either of these scenarios (A-to-Z Claims & Duplicate Pages) over a year ago. What will they be up to next? This is why we need to do everything we can to pressure whatever sites we sell at to get rid of them, IMHO. [DN]: Can you fight back against the A-to-Z claim? If not, I’d contact your state AG’s office. If the language from ergodebooks was “I havent (sic) received my item yet. I want my refund” that is necessarily a fraudulent statement as they are a drop shipper and will not ever receive the product. [Sylvia Petras, Leaf and Stone Books (SP)]: I doubt that your package didn’t arrive. Some of the bookjackers check regularly to see if there’s tracking and if there isn’t, they file a claim. Had that happen to me once on Abebooks — but I actually had the tracking, just had forgotten to upload. Abe refused the refund request and said they would “look into” the fraudulent claim. Don’t know whether they did or not. [Editor]: Tracking of deliveries can be monitored by software, and claims can be submitted automatically. These are volume businesses and algorithms need not consider the truth about a delivery, only what the data shows. [CV]: Zubal discusses this phenomenon with books in his part 2 on bookjackers (linked above) – they were apparently listing “in print” and still available university press editions at really high prices and by using a false date, a new listing was created – which appeared in searches above the legitimate listing – However, it appears that amazon shut these sellers down. Someone who deals more with university press books might know if this is still a problem. that said, there are definitely times when all that shows up are a few fake listings. I have noticed this occasionally when we have sold books on Amazon for a reasonable price (under $30) and I click thru to the product – and the only copies still listed under that product id are some extremely high $300+ copies by fake selllers. if I do a general title search on Amazon other listings come up with lots of reasonably priced copies [JMS]: I assume that the problem persists with the University Press Editions. Once the sellers are kicked off, they just create new accounts and continue listing on the same pages. And as much as I have insisted, Amazon has yet to figure out a way (or had the motivation) to find the seller or sellers that created all of these pages and delete the sellers & pages in bulk. This would be a lot easier than the current method I use of calling Seller Support and asking them to merge duplicate pages one by one. There are literally millions of these duplicate pages throughout the BMVD categories and they all have them same slightly-off formatting, which says to me that they were created by a very limited number of sellers. [AI]: Part of the bookjacker model is to not ship anything and hope you don’t notice. Seems they are playing it from both angles since when they don’t ship they pocket the money without a second thought. I always thought this was the case because of the number of “lost” shipments that showed up over the years. A recent order confirmed this for me. I got an ABE wants email with an incredibly attractive price and bought the book. The “seller” confirmed the order and after a few weeks I asked if there was a tracking number, explaining that the package hadn’t arrived. They simply issued a refund and didn’t even reply. A few days later their “book” came through my wants again with a price of about $259 rather than the earlier $12. I decided they realized it was underpriced and so they didn’t ship it and re-listed it instead. It was only later that I learned they are bookjackers. I think it was Summit Reade. One problem with the not even bothering to round up a product to fulfill the order is that this kind of oversight happens all the time, and it is often just an oversight rather than outright fraud. I ordered a few books for myself from Johns Hopkins Press in late May. They sent a shipment confirmation and the USPS tracking number didn’t even show as a pre-ship as of late last week so I sent an inquiry. They responded today saying the package is on the way and is late. The tracking number now shows as pre-ship with a date of 6/6. Similarly, I had another order in May that never shipped until I inquired two weeks later. This wasn’t books, but the Dick Blick art store, which is a large chain. JMS, as for the A-to-Z claim, boy is that the pits. I don’t read the Amazon forum much anymore. There used to be folks there who specialized in knowing how to deal with violations. [SP]: I have to admit that I forget I’ve ordered books for myself all the time. If it’s for a customer, no, but if it’s for me… We actually had an ebay seller contact us last month and ask if we’d received a book that we had won on auction over a year ago. We realized we never had received it. He was cleaning up his files, found the sold item marked but had no record of shipping and couldn’t find the book, either. It was a $12 book so we suggested he just not worry about it since it was our fault that we hadn’t paid any attention, but he insisted on refunding and he did. Now that’s follow up! I doubt HE’s a bookjacker! [AI]: Definitely not a book jacker! [Editor]: An “ethical question” indeed! ***** [Editor]: A follow-on was posted a bit later about correspondence with Biblio about a specific transaction. [Amy Candiotti, Pistil Books Online (AC)]: I received an order today with the Biblio 15% dealer discount applied. The Biblio order email indicated, “Special note: A look at their books on Biblio shows 524,099 books, and when sorted by highest price, the top listing is for a book priced at $68,791.46 with no description other than it is an ex-library book. This “seller” has all the hallmarks of a scraper – no actual descriptions, ridiculous prices, and a large number of books. I wrote Biblio customer support saying that I would not fill this order and asked what their policy was on scrapers getting the Biblio dealer discount. I’ll let you know what they say. [AC]: (the next day) Biblio wrote back this morning. Message below. I replied to this message thanking them for their quick reply and cancelling the order, but also mentioned that there was one bookselling model she didn’t mention–the bookjacker and I sent her a link to Zubal Books’ explanation. From Biblio: Hello, Thanks for your message. I’ve gone ahead and canceled the order with no impact on your fulfillment rate. We don’t have a way of preventing that seller from ordering your listings, but should they do so again you can drop us an email to cancel the order. There are some booksellers listing on Biblio whose inventories are not housed locally, and some who have very large in-house inventories, but also make use of drop-shipping in order to keep their order fulfillment rates high. This means they order from other dealers for shipment directly to their customers. There are also some dealers who are wholesalers, or list at least some new books, and those often need to be ordered from publishers and/or drop-shipped. There are over 6,000 dealers listing on Biblio, and they operate under different models and principles. Each bookseller manages and is responsible for their own inventory, including listing information and prices, shipping rates and delivery estimates. Our main focus is to ensure that the customers they serve are satisfied with their orders, that they arrive on time and as described. We do take customer feedback very seriously, and I have noted your feedback regarding this seller in that profile for further review. Booksellers on Biblio with consistently low fulfillment, and/or consistently poor feedback and complaints from customers are suspended from listing on our website. Please let us know if you have any other questions about our policies and we’ll be happy to help! With Regards, Biblio Bookseller Support [Editor]: The battle continues. Thanks Amy!

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