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Searching for Physical and Digital Media: The Evolution of Platforms for Finding Books

Author

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  • Michael R. Baye
  • Babur De los Santos
  • Matthijs R. Wildenbeest

Abstract

This paper provides a data-driven overview of the different online platforms that consumers use to search for books and booksellers, and documents how the use of these platforms is shifting over time. Our data suggest that, as a result of digitization, consumers are increasingly conducting searches for books at retailer sites and closed systems (e.g., the Kindle and Nook) rather than at general search engines (e.g., Google or Bing). We also highlight a number of challenges that will make it difficult for researchers to accurately measure internet-based search behavior in the years to come. Finally, we highlight a number of open agenda items related to the pricing of books and other digital media, as well as consumer search behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael R. Baye & Babur De los Santos & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2013. "Searching for Physical and Digital Media: The Evolution of Platforms for Finding Books," NBER Working Papers 19519, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19519
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Karen Clay & Ramayya Krishnan & Eric Wolff, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 521-539, December.
    2. Judith Chevalier & Austan Goolsbee, 2003. "Measuring Prices and Price Competition Online: Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 203-222, June.
    3. D'Amuri, Francesco & Marcucci, Juri, 2009. "‘Google it!’ Forecasting the US unemployment rate with a Google job search index," ISER Working Paper Series 2009-32, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose L. & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2011. "Comparison sites," IESE Research Papers D/933, IESE Business School.
      • Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2011. "Comparison Sites," Working Papers 2011-04, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    5. Babur De Los Santos & Ali Hortacsu & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2012. "Testing Models of Consumer Search Using Data on Web Browsing and Purchasing Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2955-2980, October.
    6. Erik Brynjolfsson & Yu (Jeffrey) Hu & Michael D. Smith, 2003. "Consumer Surplus in the Digital Economy: Estimating the Value of Increased Product Variety at Online Booksellers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(11), pages 1580-1596, November.
    7. Erik Brynjolfsson & Yu (Jeffrey) Hu & Duncan Simester, 2011. "Goodbye Pareto Principle, Hello Long Tail: The Effect of Search Costs on the Concentration of Product Sales," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(8), pages 1373-1386, August.
    8. Hyunyoung Choi & Hal Varian, 2012. "Predicting the Present with Google Trends," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(s1), pages 2-9, June.
    9. Baye, Michael R. & De los Santos, Babur & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2016. "What’s in a name? Measuring prominence and its impact on organic traffic from search engines," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 44-57.
    10. Chris Forman & Anindya Ghose & Avi Goldfarb, 2009. "Competition Between Local and Electronic Markets: How the Benefit of Buying Online Depends on Where You Live," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(1), pages 47-57, January.
    11. Clay, Karen & Krishnan, Ramayya & Wolff, Eric, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 521-539, December.
    12. Han Hong & Matthew Shum, 2006. "Using price distributions to estimate search costs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 257-275, June.
    13. Peitz, Martin & Waldfogel, Joel, 2012. "The Oxford Handbook of the Digital Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195397840, Decembrie.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gaudin, Germain & White, Alexander, 2014. "On the antitrust economics of the electronic books industry," DICE Discussion Papers 147 [rev.], Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    2. Babur De los Santos & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2017. "E-book pricing and vertical restraints," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 85-122, June.
    3. Hviid, Morten & Izquierdo Sanchez, Sofia & Jaques, Sabine, 2016. "From publishers to self-publishing: The disruptive effects of digitalisation on the book industry," MPRA Paper 76057, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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