Today we went a bit back in time to bring you an interview with Alibris CEO Brian Elliott. This one takes place right as the economy had started to tank, so Elliott is talking about what Alibris is and how the new, troubled economy is affecting his business. Obviously they made it through, and Alibris is still going strong today.
But let’s get straight to this interview from the vaults.
Natalie: Hi! I’m Natalie Pietrzykowski sitting here with Brian Elliott from Alibris. Hi, Brian.
Brian: Natalie, how are you?
Natalie: Good, how are you?
Brian: Doing good.
Natalie: Could you tell our audience today a little bit about exactly what Alibris is?
Brian: Sure. Alibris is a marketplace for independent sellers of books, music and movies. We have about 13000 sellers today that list almost 100 million items with us. Used books, new books, DVDs, CDs, antiquarian stuff, collectible materials, everything from about 30 different countries.
Natalie: And now George Jones just presented and he mentioned Alibris, can you tell me how you fit into Borders.com?
Brian: Sure think of Alibris as just being our website, Alibris.com. Because we’re a marketplace and we manage to spread the supply, a lot of other retailers, other people in the book, music and movie space, use us to help them fill out the selection that their customers need. So when Mr. Jones is presenting about Borders, he talked about the partnership that we’ve got with them. And what we do is help them bring more selection to their customers. A lot of this is long tail material, so helping customers find material that Borders doesn’t stock, that their traditional new book, music and movie partners don’t’ stock. And the other part of this is second hand, used product prices. So in a time when the economy is a little tight it’s a good time to be selling used products as well as new and give customers the option on a lower price point. So we do this today with Borders, Barnes & Noble, Cha[ters up in Canada, Books A Million in the US, Blackwell in the UK and a number of other traditional retailers.
Natalie: Great. So how is the economy actually effecting Alibris.
Brian: It’s been an interesting year. Things actually are going pretty well but nothing is exactly the way we planned it to go. So there’s obviously a lot more pressure on prices these days, and if you’re selling used and second hand goods it’s a good time for that part of the market. But Libris has been doing quite well on pretty much everything. International business has grown a lot more than we expected. We’ve benefited a bit from the decline of the dollar. But it’s been a set of interesting challenges on the retail front that I think a lot of people are seeing. People are more price conscious. They price shop a lot more. You see a lot more behavior of people going from one site to another to another to do comparison shopping. As well as a lot more use of promotions and discounts.
Natalie: So what are you doing to adjust?
Brian: So what we’re doing is, basically for us, the biggest thing for us is to bring our sellers as much diversity in our revenue streams, which helps us. Whether it’s through our website, through our UK website, through partnerships with Borders, Barnes & Nobles, and others to find as many buyers as we possibly can and getting our sellers selection. At 100 million SKUs of selection, you need to find a lot of outlets to help drive it. So the more variety we can find the better off we do as a business. And we’re pushing the sale button more often. Not discounts so much as making sure that product that is well discounted is more visible and easily seen by the customer. And making sure that people understand that they can get a good deal. So a lot of the marketing has been more deal focused than it would have been a year, two years ago. And the other part of it is driving international expansion which, the dollar’s had its benefits, but you learn through some of the bumps along the way what’s easy and what’s hard.
Natalie: Great. Thanks for talking today.
Brian: Thanks, appreciate it!
Alibris continues to offer a huge selection of books for the avid reader. Check them out today.
Alibris is books. And more. But a lot of people haven’t heard of it. We hadn’t until recently even though we’re avid readers. So we looked it up. “What’s this place all about?” we asked. It’s sometimes hard to try something new, so fortunately for us AshleyReads on YouTube was there to fill us in.
AshleyReads fearlessly jumped right in, ordered and described the whole experience for us. Now that we know, we’ll be jumping on board right away. Check out her review and unboxing below, with transcription as usual for easy skimming.
Hey, guys. Today I wanted to do a quick unboxing. I recently found a new website to order books. Last Friday I paced an order. I was feeling depressed and emotional, so I wanted to do a little retail therapy. And I thought instead of placing a huge order with a bunch of books that I don’t have time to read right now – my TBR right now is over 100 books.
I thought I would get one of my favorite books in a new edition. And I found the copy I wanted on this new website. So I thought I would review it because I had never heard of it and I talked to a couple people on Twitter who they said they had never heard of it and they wouldn’t mind a review.
So I just got the package. It’s been exactly a week, actually. I think I ordered it Friday night. Maybe it was Saturday, I can’t remember exactly, I could look it up. And I believe I ordered a good condition book. So just a quick overview of what I noticed about the website. It’s called Alibris. I’ll put the link down below. Anyway, basically it reminded me of Thrift Books. It’s a bunch of independent book stores.
This one says it comes from Half Price books in Texas. So I guess I’m just going to open it. And they wrote “thanks” on the outside of the package. I was afraid this would be mass market paperback but it actually looks normal size, so that’s good. And looks like they extra wrapped it. Half Price Books. So it’s basically, I guess, like Thrift Books.
And the book I picked up is “The Book Thief”, except this is the Australian cover. This is my favorite book in case you didn’t know. I read it last December and to this day there’s nothing that compares to this. I recently, a while ago, posted on Twitter saying I really wanted the Australian edition. I was talking to Lucy and she asked me, is it the blue or the red, and I was like, what are you talking about? It’s neither of those colors. My fault. I saw someone from Australia with the book I wanted and anyway, enough rambling. What I meant to say is the UK. But then I just saw Izzy from Just Keep Reading and I needed it. I ordered it.
It was only five dollars plus I paid for shipping. This was $5.99, I paid 3.99 to ship it from Texas. It came in less than a week. I got the book I wanted. It’s a little beat up on the back, I don’t know if you can tell. Otherwise it’s in pretty good condition. None of the pages are ripped from what I can see. I’m pretty happy with my order. I got exactly what I wanted. It’s in good condition. Or at least what I consider good. So I got the Australian edition of “The Book Thief.”
And I plan on re-reading this. I actually want to pick it up and read it now but I think I’ll wait, I’m going to Virginia for Thanksgiving so I think I’ll re-read it there. So the packaging was good, I got exactly what I ordered. I wasn’t sure if it was a legitimate website, basically, and I was hesitant to place the order but I tried it anyway and I was very pleased.
Shipping wasn’t too bad from Texas. It came pretty quick. I paid ten dollars total. That’s not too bad. Oh, and I’m not being paid for this or anything for this review. Some people worry about that. But these are my own thoughts. I just thought I had never heard of this website and they had a whole bunch of different stuff on there from all over – I’m not sure if it’s international.
Like I said, I’ll leave the website down below. I found this on a whim. So you guys should check it out if you like buying books it might be something to check out. If you have any other questions about the website and if I’m able to answer them I will definitely give you an answer. I’m very happy with my order and my experience with the website. I guess that’s it for this video. Again, if you have questions feel free to ask and I’ll talk to you guys later.
There you go! Sounds like a good service. Plus, they do textbook rentals as well. Just FYI.