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Used books draw frugal bookworms
Used books draw frugal bookworms
Alibris CEO Brian Elliott
Emeryville, Calif.
Launched: 1998
Sales: $114 million in 2007 (reported by Internet Retailer); 18% increase in 2008, to an estimated $134 million

The marketplace for secondhand and out-of-print books is alive and well, according to Alibris President and CEO Brian Elliott. More than 12,000 sellers in 30 countries are fueling continued growth for his company.

Half of Alibris' sellers run a brick-and-mortar store. The other half sell wares out of their garages, or are small publishers that need help distributing their titles. The company also reaches buyers through traditional bookstores, which can partner with Alibris to source used and rare books through its system.

The privately held company doesn't disclose its revenue, but Elliott said sales in the holiday season, from mid-November to the end of the year, were up 8% this year.

"It wasn't as good as the 20% we had the year before," Elliott says. "But annual revenue grew by 18% in 2008, and we expect that to grow in 2009."

Elliott attributes part of the growth to investments that the company made in its Web site. Alibris added a new Rare and Collectible store this year and began accepting PayPal payments. It also launched a marketplace on Borders' Web site to connect customers there with items from Alibris sellers.

"We have an amazing selection, great prices, and are supporting independent booksellers," Elliott says. "Heavy readers are our best customers, and we're a better buy in this economy."

NEXT: Talk is cheap, but phones still sell

LAST UPDATE: Mar 06 2009 | 4:11 PM ET
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