LJNDawson.com, Consulting to the Book Publishing Industry
Book Publishing Industry Consultant


CNet reports on a service called BookMooch.com, a book-swapping website run by John Buckman. Members pay a fee to join, and then trade books for free online. (They have to pay for postage, but that's all.)

However, Buckman's taking in money as an Amazon affiliate. He's got a widget called the Moochbar, which links members' wish lists to Amazon. For every 25 books traded, someone actually will purchase a book, and Buckman makes the affiliate fee.

CNet points out, however, that Buckman's service is primarily of interest as a long tail phenomenon:

Apart from still-negligible sales, what should be more of a wake-up call to the book industry is how the site is tapping into the so-called long tail of book retail with a social, free service. The long tail, as the theory goes, accounts for as much as 60 percent of the goods sold in an industry, or all those unpopular works that find a home with only a few. It's said that the lion's share of Amazon's book sales come from works that have a low sales ranking.

What's more, within the next nine months, Buckman expects to have the inventory of books--distributed among its members--that would rival that of the largest book wholesaler in the United States. BookMooch now has an inventory of about 480,000 books among its 70,000 trading members, but at its growth rate it should rival Ingram Book Company's 1 million books by early 2009, Buckman said. BookMooch's decentralized warehouse of books serves the long tail the same way that centralized warehouses like those of Ingram's serves the top of the tail.

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