A Czech Second-Hand Books Boom

From Publishers Weekly:

The Czech digital seller of second-hand books Knihobot reported sales of some 18 million Czech koruna (US$792,000) for the entire year of 2020, but in October of this year alone, it generated sales of 10 million koruna (US$440,000).

This month, having raised its monthly sales to a level above the 2020 total, Knihobot is looking to expand its services to neighboring Slovakia, according to company officials.

. . . .

“Knihobot is an online platform and e-shop that helps with the circulation of books,” she says in describing the company’s brand.

“That means we’re helping people to sell their books and to find new ones. We arrange everything around the selling, storage, and even the transportation from your home to Knihobot’s storage.

“After the book is sold, we pay a commission to the original owner.”

Hladíková’s outlook in the near term is optimistic: “For this year,” she says, “we’re projecting a number of 70 or 80 million karuna. We’ll see.”

This upturn in Knihobot’s business may not indicate that Czech readers are losing interest in buying new books.

The latest available data from the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers (SKCN) suggests that in 2019, the country’s book market expanded by 3.5 percent to some 8.6 billion Koruna (US$379 million), reporting an annual increase for a fifth year.

. . . .

Asked whether it’s possible that the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged more readers to buy second-hand books, perhaps instead of using public libraries, Hladíková points to a number of factors that might explain Knihobot’s strong financial performance in past months.

“There are many reasons for this change of behavior” among consumers, she says.

“Sustainable consumer approach, a wider range of books because you can buy new and older publications in one place, better prices, and the rising online presence of second-hand bookshops overall.”

. . . .

Asked by Publishing Perspectives about the rising interest in used books and its potential impact on publishers’ and authors’ revenues, Czech publishing industry representatives have been reluctant to comment.

A Warsaw-based academic publishing executive speaking on condition of anonymity, however, tells us, “When you look at the size of the publishing market, second-hand  book operations don’t represent a big share of the industry—but it’s another factor that is trimming [publishers’] profit margins, which already are quite slim.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

6 thoughts on “A Czech Second-Hand Books Boom”

  1. Thought for a second that “After the book is sold, we pay a commission to the original owner.” meant the AUTHOR.

    Now THAT would be a novel concept.

    Except that these being physical books, the publishers would then want a cut, too.

      • Doing so would be another factor that’s trimming the publishers profit margins. its not like they went into this knowing that people would sell and buy the books they publish.

        • In other creative busineses publishers have eagerly embraced digital because it doesn’t allow resale.
          At this point any losses publishers incur from competing with used copies of their own books are self-inflicted. They had two opportunities to foster a proper multichannel ebook standard and they strangled the first (MSREADER) and neutered the second with Agency.
          They deserve what they get.

          • The reason for that is because book publishers, unlike Hollywood and the video game industry, knew good and well that their power was based on their ability to control access to the production and distribution networks for the books themselves, and any shift from hardcopy to electronic format threatened their power by giving people a cheap alternative to going through them in order to sell their books.

            • It didn’t have to do any of tbat.
              Microsoft Reader allowed publishers to sell ebooks direct, atprices they set. It also allowed any and all bookstores to sell ebooks. Several publishers sold ebooks from their own web sites.
              BAEN did that and still does, in ways that make them the preferred retailer for knowledgeable shoppers.

              The BPHs chose to limit what books tbey produced digitally and chose to sell them at full list. Eventually both B&N and Amazon stopped supporting ebooks. B&N totally. Amazon temporarily. MS eventually shrugged them off as incorrigible. Where MS was merely looking to help publishers expand their product lines, Amazon had more aggresive goals. If they had supported MS READER (effectively epub 0.9) Kindle wouldn’t exist today.

              They may claim they had reasons but the reasons are foolish.
              If they had embraced digital they *still* would control book distribution. Over in video and gaming, publishers are using digital to set up proprietary silos tbat allow them near total control over tbeir distribution channels, in ways the BPHs can’t even dream of.

              Instead the BPHs created the exact conditions guaranteed to foster a healthy indie book industry.

              Every step that led to Amazon’s current ebook domination was a result of the BPHs misguided attempts to cripple digital a second time.

              They created their own (eventual) downfall.

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