Friday, March 03, 2006
It's predictable like the Tides- there's been major blow-up on BookFinderInsider, and this was a two-fer: ABE and describing condition. This Morning After the Night Before, I kick-started the computer, rehooked the clothespins to the cables I run from the phone wires, and downloaded 8,249 messages all labeled "ABE's View of Redirecting".
[I won't even get into the Redirecting thread- it's boring. Suffice it to explain that it is when a bookseller listing their books on the Advanced Book Exchange website entices a customer to buy outside the ABE shopping-cart system, thereby cutting ABE out of a commission and making more money himself. It's theft, pure and simple].
There were two interesting ancillary threads that got entwined, though. The first was the justification some dealers used for screwing ABE- they are pissed about other things ABE has done, so it's ok. Gee, how very NeoConservative of them.
I still don't get all the whining about ABE- some dealers are genuinely, deeply offended that ABE a)wants to make a profit and b)might consider selling new books as well as old books. Get over it. ABE is a business, and a very well-run one from what I can see. They offer you a place to sell your books under your own banner, and they get a fee. The real problem is that too many "booksellers" spend far too much time whining about how bad business is and blaming ABE for it, rather than actually spending time selling books themselves.
The other group of folks who popped their heads up during the fight were the Condition Freaks. You know them- they take a $7.50 book and then spend three paragraphs describing, complete with measurements down to the millimeter, ever tear and scrape and nick in the dust jacket, and parse the fading on the spine. Hey folks -it's a $7.50 book. "Very good" is a good enough description. What's funny is that the Condition Freaks almost never actually tell you what the book is about or why you should buy it... but by God, they'll count the creases on the jacket for you!
One of them actually cut-and-pasted a bunch of perfectly decent listings from a dealer he was arguing with and accused the guy of being unethical for describing the physical condition of $10 books only as "Fine" or "Very Good". This is a classic case of people confusing busy-ness for accomplishment. Hey folks- it's a freakin' $10 book.
My own personal feeling, when I come across a Condition Freak listing, is that this is probably not really a professional bookseller. Think about it- a major difference between professionals and amatuers in any business is their ability to distinguish the important from the unimportant and have a sense of proportion. The Condition Freaks lack any sense of proportion, and spend all their time measuring rips in the dust jackets of $10 books -it's funny, though, that that's all they seem to have, most of the time -$10 books, and how little many of them seem to actually know about what they sell and why someone might want to buy it. And then they complain that business sucks.
Oh, right- it's all ABE's fault.
Sure it is.