Issue #20  10/15/2000
Sotheby's and Amazon Eliminate Joint Site

Sotheby's and Amazon have eliminated their joint site. The two behemoths finally woke up to what everyone else was aware of for the last year: the Sothebys.amazon.com site didn't make any sense and only confused buyers and sellers.

It looks like Amazon gets the best of the changing deal. They get some of their $45 million development costs back in the form of multi-million dollar cash payments over a multi-year contract for fixed placements on the Amazon.com site. Amazon also got a kicker based on the Sothebys.com site's performance.

The original proposition was that material between $100 and $300 would go on the combo site, and material above that amount would go on the Sothebys.com site. Sotheby's site is now happy to take anything just to beef up the number of items on the dwindling site. The last time I looked they only had 223 lots in the photography category, which was mostly their own. That's about 2/3 of what they used to post up at the beginning.

Down is not a good direction on the web. Many, if not most, photo dealers have given up the site for dead, although it has had erratically good results from time to time. But the site is just too cumbersome, and the buyers' premium and the site's lack of ability to track bids always put off bidders. And the exclusive ironbound contracts and lack of direct customer contact put off dealers. I truly hope they fix their problems. We could use another high quality alternative to eBay for auctioning on-line.