Bookseller exodus? After new FBA fees, evidence Amazon booksellers may have dropped by over 10%.
In this article:
- My evidence that large numbers of sellers have fled selling books on Amazon.
- Exact figures from 5 books evidencing the drop.
Lots of people have speculated booksellers are fleeing Amazon, but I haven’t seen anyone give solid numbers yet. So you’re getting an FBA Mastery exclusive here.
Before we get to the details, let’s wrap up what we covered in this series on how new FBA fees have changed Amazon selling:
- The end of penny merchant fulfilled books.
- The end of $4 FBA offers.
- This is significant for books in the sub-$10 range.
- This means very little for sellers in a higher price range.
- Amazon megasellers’ business model is destroyed.
- Repricing software crisis.
- Megasellers leave the sub-$10 book game.
I decided to find out if sellers are fleeing Amazon in droves
Last week, I called Zen Arbitrage’s lead developer.
As a co-founder of the online book arbitrage tool Zen Arbitrage, I’m privileged to have access to the massive amounts of Amazon data we harvest (data on millions of books daily).
I wanted hard evidence that new FBA fees caused a huge exodus of Amazon bookseller, forcing them out of the business. I wondered if the answer might lie in all the data we collect over at Zen Arbitrage.
So I called up Zen Arbitrage’s lead developer and asked: “Do we log the number of sellers for a particular book, going back at least two months?”
We did. He was able to give me the exact number of Amazon sellers for any book, going back at least a year. And what I learned supported a major suspicion:
New Amazon fees have caused a large number of sellers to leave the Amazon bookselling business.
Putting the “mass exodus” theory to the test
To test this, I chose 5 books with more used sellers on Amazon than any books I could think of.
I wanted to see the number of total Amazon sellers for used copies before February 22nd (the date new FBA fees were implemented), and the Amazon number of sellers after.
To return the most accurate information. I picked five titles you find used copies of everywhere. Books that flood every source of second hand books, and for which there are generally around or over 1,000 used copies for sale on Amazon at any moment.
The books I chose are:
- A Million Little Pieces (Frey)
- Bridges of Madison County (Waller)
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Berendt)
To make the significance of any fluctuations as statistically sound as possible. I chose books with a flood of used copies for sale.
The statistics: Are Amazon sellers leaving the business?
Here’s what I learned:
Book: Million Little Pieces (ISBN: 0307276902)
Total sellers (used) Jan 22nd: 1,274
Total sellers (used) this week: 1,142
A drop of: 10.36%
Book: Bridges of Madison County (ISBN: 044651652X)
Total sellers (used) Jan 22nd: 1,643
Total sellers (used) this week: 1,438
A drop of: 12.48%
Book: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (ISBN: 0679429220)
Total sellers (used) Jan 22nd: 1,288
Total sellers (used) this week: 1,014
A drop of: 21.27%
Book: The Lovely Bones (ISBN: 0316168815)
Total sellers (used) Jan 22nd: 981
Total sellers (used) this week: 895
A drop of: 8.77%
Book: The Chamber (ISBN: 0385424728)
Total sellers (used) Jan 22nd: 1050
Total sellers (used) this week: 912
A drop of: 13.14%
What’s the average drop in sellers over the last two months?
Average across five books: 13.2%
What did we learn from these statistics?
There is a significant difference among these books, with drops from 8% to over 20%. But the sheer quantity of books represented across the five titles provides us with a statistically significant sample.
And from this, we can see a trend indicating that, in the last two months, somewhere in range of 10% of Amazon sellers may have left the bookselling business.
What does this Amazon bookseller exodus mean for us?
To get close to an accurate answer, we’d have to know one very important detail: Is it the megasellers who are leaving? Or the little sellers? Or both?
There’s no way to know. We don’t log the seller’s names at Zen Arbitrage, only how may there are.
By any measure, 10%+ is significant. It means fewer sellers to compete against. Which means prices go up (although probably not noticeably so). And it means these things work in some small part to offset the increased fees.
This 10% drop-out rate is probably just the beginning
It’s only been six weeks since the new Amazon fees. In all likelihood, this exodus has only begun.
February 22nd was probably only the start date of The Great Purge. New fees are shaking the tree as we speak, and as sellers liquidate their inventory, many will continue to drop out.
I’ll continue to monitor the drop in sellers, and report if I see the drop hit 20%.
For now, enjoy the decrease in competition, and cross your fingers this Darwinian herd-thinning continues.
PS: Did you drop out of the Amazon bookselling business? Tell us why in the comments below.