Hundreds of international booksellers go ‘on vacation’ to protest move by Amazon’s AbeBooks

Book lovers trying to find rare volumes on Amazon-owned AbeBooks may see fewer choices, as hundreds of international booksellers have started what’s being called a “flash strike” against the site.

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers says the action follows an announcement sent to booksellers based in Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Korea, and Russia by AbeBooks in October that AbeBooks would close their accounts as of Nov. 30 and completely withdraw from those markets.

ILAB, a trade group representing rare book dealers, said AbeBooks provided very little information to the affected booksellers, spurring British bookseller Simon Beattie to suggest his colleagues globally put their book stock “on vacation,” as if they were literally on vacation, on AbeBooks’ platform in a show of solidarity. As of Monday morning, when the flash strike was to begin, ILAB says more than 300 booksellers had joined the protest.

ILAB says many are quoting its motto, “Amor Librorum Nos Unit,” translated as, “The Love of Books Unites Us.”

Simon Beattie’s AbeBooks storefront on Monday shows stock is “temporarily unavailable.”

For its part, AbeBooks issued a statement, published by ILAB after it sought to get more information as to why booksellers in the four countries were being removed. “We sincerely regret having to take this action but it is no longer viable for us to operate in these countries due to increasing costs and complexities,” the statement reads. “We continue to support sellers in all other 18 of the 22 countries with national associations that are members of ILAB.”

The protest is unusual in that Amazon has incredible reach and power when it comes to book sales, and many third-party sellers rely on Amazon and AbeBooks for a worldwide customer base and revenue. Amazon purchased AbeBooks, which is based in Victoria, B.C., in 2008.