"We identify with [Woody and Jessie from Toy Story 2] because we understand what happened to them. It's human nature to be attracted to the latest thing. The trick is to accept that and incorporate it into our lives in a way that balances utility and value. More kids will get pleasure out of Woody and Jessie sooner. Mom will be less likely to view those toys as future attic dwellers [if she buys them with the intent to eventually resale them]." p. 120In this easy-to-read and well-written book, Daniel Nissanoff reviews the brief history of several (mostly) internet businesses and predicts how the internet will evolve in the future. The quality of the writing is exceptional. It's the type of book in which you never need to go back and re-read a sentence or think that, “he could have said it better had he chosen different words.” Everything is clear and on point. The only criticism I would have is that in the beginning and middle parts of the book things occasionally get a little repetitive.
Among the companies whose histories are tracked are EBay, Ty (Beanie Babies), his own Portero, AuctionDrop, PEZ, and many others. The backgrounds are interesting and told with a flair. I thought I knew how EBay started, but I enjoyed the author's history of it and learned much from his description.
In a nutshell, Nissanoff's view is that people will begin, indeed have begun, to view their possessions as temporary holdings. Instead of thinking about buying something and using it forever, people will think about how much they can get for it when they are done with it in a year or two. The difference between the initial purchase price and the resell value will be the real price of the asset. Assets in that sense will be leased.
"Embracing temporary ownership means just saying no to second best and letting yourself reach for the things that will thrill you... In this new culture, you can have that thrill over and over and over again, and have permission to do so--guilt free. When there's a good resale market, it just makes good economic sense to purchase high-value products with the intent to own them temporarily and then sell. The money you recoup when you turn in your expensive stroller, for example, can be put into a new bike for your child." p. 121Nissanoff believes that people will be willing to part with their items if it isn't too much of a hassle. Currently, it is too much an inconvenience to deal with EBay for most items that you want to get rid of. After fees, below market prices, and postage it just isn't worth the time and effort to sell many personal belongings on EBay. Nissanoff sees drop-off locations that photograph, describe, and sell your items for you, and higher prices on EBay as incentive enough for this to change the way people think about their unused assets. Maybe; I'm somewhat skeptical myself.
The book talks about several other related issues as well. Those include why companies should support, rather than discourage, the resale of their goods, fraud on the internet, and high-end fashion merchandise to name but a few.
Even if you don't currently buy and/or sale on EBay, you will likely find this book to be a good read.
from the publisher:
Visionary entrepreneur Daniel Nissanoff breaks the news that the eBay auction phenomenon is about to explode in a big new way, revolutionizing how all consumers—not just eBay mavens—do their shopping, not only online but offline as well. The big payoff of this revolution is for consumers: They will be able to "trade up" more often to buy the brands they most want by embracing a new norm of temporary ownership: We will be able to buy more of the things we really want, because we'll also be regularly selling off the things we no longer want or need. We'll be transformed from an "accumulation nation" into an "auction culture." Consider this intriguing fact: In the new auction culture, Manolo Blahnik shoes, a Louis Vuitton handbag, a Hermès tie, or a Bugaboo baby stroller will actually be the better deals.
As huge as eBay has become—it is now the tenth-largest retailer in America—it has only scratched the surface of the potential for online buying and selling. In 2004, only 5 percent of all those who had bought something on eBay had also sold something on the site. But that is about to change—dramatically. Nissanoff reveals that a massive growth of online auction "facilitators" is under way that will make buying and selling online so hassle-free, so reliable, and so lucrative that the masses of consumers who have stayed away will jump aboard. Most prominent among the facilitators are dropshops, where you can bring your goods for sale and they'll handle the whole auction and shipping process. Thousands of such locations have opened in the last two years; they will soon be as pervasive as Starbucks shops. And that's only the beginning.
Daniel Nissanoff, who is at the center of the revolution as the co-founder of one of the leading-edge facilitator companies, introduces the full range of services cropping up—dropshops, authenticators, refurbishers and repackagers, personal reselling assistants, and closet cullers, as well as a wide variety of online shops that lease products, such as the hottest designer handbags and the latest-model golf clubs. He also reveals how all consumers can take advantage of these services for optimal shopping satisfaction and how entrepreneurs can get in on the booming business opportunities.
Even as the auction culture offers consumers and entrepreneurs a wealth of new opportunities, it will also pose serious challenges for retailers and brand managers. Nissanoff analyzes the challenges they will face and presents an ingenous set of strategies companies can employ to turn the challenges of the auction culture to their advantage.
Nissanoff writes, "Temporary ownership means just saying no to second-best and letting yourself reach for the things that will thrill you over and over again—guilt-free." Readers, start your auctions.