Amazon.com has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement which will see the worlds largest on-line book retailer acquire the worlds largest rare and out-of-print book specialist, AbeBooks. AbeBooks is a Victoria, B.C., Canada and Düsseldorf, Germany based company with approximately 120 employees, the company lists over 110 million books from 13,500 booksellers worldwide. AbeBooks will continue to function as a stand-alone operation as part of the deal.
AbeBooks touts itself as a leader in rare and hard-to-find books. Russell Grandinetti, VP of books for Amazon.com said “AbeBooks brings added breadth and expanded selection to our customers worldwide, AbeBooks provides a wide range of services to both sellers and customers, and we look forward to working with them to further grow their business. We’re excited to present all of our customers with the widest selection of books available any place on Earth.”
Hannes Blum, chief executive of AbeBooks, said that he was “very excited” about the acquisition. “This deal brings together book sellers and book lovers from around the world, and offers both types of customers a great experience,”
Founded in 1996, AbeBooks charges members a monthly subscription fee to list their books, the website has over 110 million rare and out-of-print books listed.
Amazon expects to close the acquisition of AbeBooks before the end of the year for an undisclosed sum–rumoured to be between $90-$120 million–and is still subject to regulatory approvals. The takeover is the third major acquisition Amazon has made this year. It took over digital book download site Audible for $300m in March and also bought on-line fabric store Fabric.com in June.
How does it effect the Kindle?
There wont be any immediate effects for Kindle owners because AbeBooks wasn’t in the e-book business, however the acquisition of AbeBooks shows that Amazon is ruthlessly buying up its competition which is a loss for the consumer. In fact AbeBooks is the antithesis of of what Amazon has done lately with pushing into electronic books with the Kindle and hosting Web 2.0 services like EC2, S3, and its recently launched Flexible Payment Service.
I don’t anticipate any new services from Amazon since they have stated that they will keep AbeBooks as a stand-alone operation, one thing that AbeBooks is great at is connecting book lovers with small, independent book stores and allowing them to discover titles which no major book retailer sells.
AbeBooks business model doesn’t really apply to e-books since a copy of the a book can always be stored on Amazons server, forever. Perhaps in the future when e-books are more commonplace then a service like AbeBooks would be beneficial to Kindle owners allowing them to discover obscure authors or controversial content which publishers wont ever print.
Can AbeBooks somehow incorporate its service for Kindle owners?