Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Booksellers protest Amazon’s AbeBooks withdrawing from several countries

Hundreds of antiquarian booksellers from around the world have removed their books from Amazon subsidiary AbeBooks, after it announced it would withdraw its services from several countries, reports the New York Times.

More than 500 antiquarian book dealers in at least 26 countries pulled their books from AbeBooks in protest against the site, after the Amazon subsidiary notified booksellers in countries including South Korea, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia last month that from 30 November it would no longer support them.

AbeBooks, which was founded in 1995 and bought by Amazon in 2008, is the biggest international marketplace for rare and secondhand books, along with Amazon itself, but it continues to operate independently of its parent company.

British bookseller Simon Beattie proposed the impromptu strike, writing, ‘I have decided to put my books on (permanent) vacation on Abe in solidarity with fellow booksellers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Korea and Russia. I hope you might like to follow suit.’ Around 2.6 million books are now unavailable through AbeBooks, with the action being dubbed Banned Booksellers Week.

Melbourne’s Books for Cooks has removed its listings on AbeBooks, with owner Tim White commenting, ‘While Amazon/Abe have not restricted booksellers in Australia, the unilateral actions are of concern and of relevance to the whole book trade.’

AbeBooks told the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) it was dropping some stores because ‘it is no longer viable for us to operate in these countries due to increasing costs and complexities’. The company later told the Times that it was scaling back operations because ‘our third-party payment service provider is closing at the end of the year’.

ILAB president Sally Burdon said: ‘The booksellers wish to send a clear message that they resent the short notice given to our colleagues affected by this decision and for the lack of information regarding why this decision was reached. It is felt that this decision was made without any understanding of the human cost involved.’

The Antiquarian Booksellers Association in London is also dropping AbeBooks as a sponsor of its 2019 book fair, saying, ‘Sadly we feel that AbeBooks is not a suitable fair sponsor for us at this time.’



Category: International news