The Abebooks Story
This year, Abebooks.com celebrates its 10th birthday and reaches another notable landmark in its quest to make it easy for people to find and buy any book from any bookseller anywhere.
Today, thousands of independent booksellers are listing millions of books on Abebooks' network of websites. Abebooks has grown into the world's largest online marketplace for new and secondhand books, and offers the greatest selection of books found anywhere.
Abebooks remains committed to selling solely books and serving independent booksellers. Its headquarters are still located in Victoria, BC, Canada, where its founders created the business in the early days of the Internet.
Two couples - Rick and Vivian Pura and Keith and Cathy Waters – wrote the first Abebooks' chapter. Keith worked in IT for British Columbia's provincial government, while Cathy ran a used bookstore. Countless customers would walk into Cathy's shop and request a specific book, often out-of-print or just plain hard to find, that she did not have in stock.
She would then place an advert in a trade magazine in order to source the book for the customer from another bookseller in North America – she thought there had to be a better way to help people buy books and put the problem to her husband and their friends the Puras. The answer was the Internet.
Although Abebooks has expanded beyond their wildest dreams, the initial concept has not changed – Abebooks connect buyers and sellers by acting as a giant shopping mall for bookstores where book searches are conducted in seconds.
The 80 million books range across every possible genre and sector in publishing – new, secondhand, rare, antiquarian, and out-of-print. From much-desired first editions of The Great Gatsby to used copies of The Da Vinci Code to college textbooks to cookbooks and travel guides.
Today the company has 120 employees with offices in Düsseldorf, Germany, and Oviedo, Spain, as well as Canada and Berkeley, California. More than 10 nationalities are represented in a book-loving workforce that has attracted staff from major names like Amazon, Microsoft and Sony. Macleans Magazine has named Abebooks one of Canada's top 100 employers in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
The firm's growth has been fuelled by an ever-expanding inventory, increasing numbers of customers, increasing numbers of booksellers and by acquisition of other companies.
In 2001, a leading German online marketplace for secondhand books, JustBooks.com, was acquired and that swiftly led to the development of Abebooks.de in Germany and Abebooks.fr in France. One year later, Abebooks.co.uk was launched in the UK. In October 2004, Abebooks acquired Iberlibro.com – a Spanish online marketplace for rare and used books.
In November 2005, BookFinder.com became the latest addition to the Abebooks' family when the leading California-based price comparison shopping service for books was acquired.
As a true champion of the written word, Abebooks has attracted media attention around globe. The New York Times described the company as "a true Internet success story" and The Guardian said Abebooks was writing "a dotcom chapter of success".
Even the United Nations loved the concept of connecting book-buyers with booksellers when Abebooks.com was named one of the top e-business sites by the UN's World Summit Awards in 2003.
With books at the heart of every company decision, the company is committed to improving literacy. In 2005 alone, Abebooks sponsored a writing contest for young people and a three-day novel contest, supported an innovative program called Random Acts of Poetry, sponsored Canada's Family Literacy Day, and sponsored the annual Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland. High profile writers like Alexander McCall Smith, Jared Diamond, Malcolm Gladwell, Yann Martel, Iain Banks, and many others have been interviewed and featured on the site.
The birthday celebrations will be far more than just a company anniversary – it will be a celebration of books, booksellers and book-buyers.