eBay Launches Books Section; Is Also Selling Used Books

20 Apr, 2012

Online shopping and auction site eBay has added a new section to its existing site dedicated to books. The highlight of the new section is definitely the massive discounts that eBay is offering on the books (discounts go up to 50 per cent for a lot of books) and this has probably been made possible because eBay is selling both new as well as old/used books.

Whenever a user selects a particular book, eBay first shows a heavily discounted book (probably a used one) but it also provides the users with the option of opting for a new book (albeit at a much higher price). This reminds us of Amazon! that has a similar option for almost many products including electronics.

eBay claims to have over 5 million books as of now and it is also offering a flat 5 per cent off coupon (for the next purchase) whenever a book is purchased.

The books are divided into various categories that include business and autobiography, business and management, comic and graphic novels, computers, fiction and literature, health and fitness, non-fiction, photography, professional and technical and self help. The section also has a search bar and users can search for books by its title, author or its International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

There is a 'quick reads' section that offers short books like Revolution 2020 and Can Love Happen Twice, among others. All the books offered under 'quick reads' are by Indian authors (Chetan Bhagat, Ravinder Singh, etc) and they are all being offered at a minimum discount of 49 per cent. Then there is an 'our picks' section where books recommended by eBay are displayed (Secret, The Alchemist, Steve Jobs, etc).

A complete section has been dedicated to the top 10 fiction and non-fiction books and last we checked, The Hunger Games (by Suzanne Collins) was the top fiction book while Rich Dad Poor Dad (by Robert T Kiyosaki) topped the non-fiction list. The other sections on the page include 'books that you should not miss', 'love stories' and 'popular searches'.

An interesting thing we found while browsing the section was that once you look up a book, eBay displays a new section called 'book(s) you last viewed' at the bottom left corner of the page that simply displays the various books that the user has viewed earlier. Again a feature Amazon has and many Indian e-com firms have started incorporating.

All the regular payments options are available on the site and although there are no shipping charges, there is a delivery time of 5 days for all the books. Users can comment on books or share them on Twitter and social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook. Also, unlike the rest of the eBay site where the seller information is displayed for the products, the books section isn't offering that as of now.

The new books section on eBay will compete with other large players in the online books space like Flipkart, Infibeam, Crossword, uRead.com, Indiaplaza, Landmark, BookAdda and BuyBooksIndia, among others. eBay will also indirectly compete with Amazon's Indian offering Junglee.com (that aggregates books from different vendors, among other products) and ThisYaThat.com, a 100 per cent books aggregation site that was recently launched in beta. Where it may score is the huge consumer base given its presence for so long in the country (eBay already sells books in its current marketplace platform).

We compared the prices of Chetan Bhagat's Revolution 2020 on the different sites and found it to be the cheapest at eBay itself (Rs 70) while it was the costliest at Crossword (Rs 140). The best that aggregators Junglee and ThisYaThat could come up was Rs 83.

Although this comparison was only for one particular book and the prices should vary seller to seller for the other books. But there is no denying that selling used/old books along with new ones could actually work in favour of eBay since apart from a niche crowd of people who like to collect books, most of us don't know what to do with them once we are done reading them. This way, people can still get to read the books they love but at a much cheaper price. However this logic won't apply for the recently published books.