There are a number of reasons why Half.com's being shut down and pulled back into the eBay brand (to live on as the oddly named The Half Zone).
Branding's clearly one of these reasons. Writes weblogger Deb:
I have boxes of used elementary to junior high level textbooks I'd like to sell. What do you think is my best option...selling them on Ebay or at Amazon's Half.com? Are there online stores that only deal in used textbooks that might be more suitable? [Source]
Amazon Marketplace has out-Halved Half.com, enough so that it can occasionally cause reasonable consumers to mix the two brands up. eBay's brand anxiety is understandable.
We've been spending some time evaluating the way the BookFinder.com site works in light of the mix of web browsers that our users use. Basic web log analysis stuff. For a long time, BookFinder.com users tended to lag well behind the general Internet population with respect to adoption of newer web browsers.
It looks like users have finally caught up. 73% of our users are currently using Internet Explorer 6, 15% are using IE 5, 8% are using Mozilla and other Gecko-based browsers, and 2% are using Safari. Netscape 4 and IE 4 take up most of the remaining 3%. (Numbers don't add up 100% due to rounding.)
It's nice to see our users' browser preferences shifting toward the mainstream. I remember the days when WebTV made up about 6% of our users; we ended up doing quite a bit of browser-specific HTML coding to get WebTV users' search experiences working right.
As for myself, I've always been fairly web browser agnostic. It's not uncommon for me to use three different web browsers on the same computer over the course of a day. My web browsers of choice? I use Safari at work, Camino (a Mozilla derivative) at home, and Links when I'm on a Unix command line.
The European book world was in a bit of a tizzy around the collection of 100,000 rare books from the Penguin publishing archives recently sold to Half Price Books (a Dallas-based low end American used bookstore chain).
The collection includes a copy of Aku-Aku signed by its author, Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnologist and adventurer who led the Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947. The book is dedicated to Sir Allen Lane, who founded Penguin in the 1930s. A senior publishing figure said: "If this is so, it is a major cultural crime."
So I was surprised to read AAP President Pat Schroeder's statement to CNN/Money when asked whether the rising cost of books is a factor in declining American reading rates:
Former Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder, who now heads the AAP, says book price increases didn't cause the reading decline. A book "is very high value," she argues. "It gives hours of pleasure and can be passed on to others." [Source]
It's nice to see that when the American publishing industry is under attack, their trade association is happy to claim that being able to share books (without subsequent readers having to pay a fee to the publisher) is a feature of their products, rather than a legal loophole to be overcome.
BookFinder.com -- helping ensure that good books "can be passed on to others" since 1997.
Publishing industry insiders and Authors Guild spokespeople do their best to paint the used book industry as unethical:
"Used books are to consumer books as Napster was to the music industry," she said. "The question becomes, 'How does the book industry address its used-book problem?' There aren't any easy answers, especially as no one is breaking any laws here."
For better or for worse, the right of first sale (the American legal principle that allows the owner of an object to resell it to others) is an enshrined part of the way America (and the rest of the world) works.
Your contractor can't stop you from reselling your home. Ford can't stop you from reselling your car. Apple can't stop you from reselling your computer. And the Authors Guild can't stop you from reselling your books.
Comparing used books to illegal Napster downloads and suggesting that the used book industry is operating based on some legal loophole seems to be part of the larger assault on basic consumer rights that the copyright industries (e.g. movies, music) have been engaging in for the past decade or so.