Previous White Collar Boomers Dominate Used Bookselling Online

Previous White Collar Boomers Dominate Used Bookselling Online

According to an extensive poll of used booksellers in the U.S. by, it is the ‘Baby Boomer' generation who are committed to extending used bookselling businesses deeper into cyberspace, the world's largest online marketplace for new, used, rare and out-of-print books.

Online bookselling has only existed since the mid-1990s, says the report, and the research shows how the profession appeals to entrepreneurial "Silver Surfers." The poll also says that long working hours and knowledge of technology are key aspects of the job.

Key findings include:

  • 79% of Online booksellers are aged over 45 - more than half have a degree or a higher qualification
  • Most sellers had left white-collar careers to become booksellers. The most common previous professions were jobs in teaching, libraries, sales, and management
  • 11% work between 51 and 60 hours per week, and 9% are working more than 60 hours a week with the online cataloging of books being the most time-consuming task
  • 25% will increase their online book inventory by between 10% and 25% in 2007
  • 21% plan to launch their own e-commerce website
  • Sellers acquire books through a large number of sources, many of which require time on the road, including library sales, estate sales, private sales, and auctions. 26% had traveled up to 100 miles to buy a book and 9% had gone abroad to buy books
  • Many sellers also sell through other online marketplaces and 74% had set up their Internet selling operation without outside IT assistance
  • 60% of sellers polled operate purely online. The others had bookstores or showrooms
  • 64% of the sellers offer mostly out-of-print books and most specialize in a number of genres. History, fiction and children's books are the most common
  • 68% list falling book prices as their biggest fear for the future but 38% are also concerned that fewer young people are reading books now
  • Despite their long working hours, 33% read between five and 10 books per month

Hannes Blum, CEO of, says "...this profession... requires dedication to build up an online inventory of books and considerable effort to find books ideal for the Internet. ... (More than 8,000 booksellers from the US currently)... offer over 100 million books through AbeBooks that could expand to 120 million by the end of 2008..."

Find more about this study here.


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