Match Quality, Search, and the Internet Market for Used Books
NBER Working Paper No. 24197
This paper examines the effect of the Internet on markets in which match-quality is important, including an analysis of the market for used books. A model in which sellers of unusual objects wait for high-value buyers to arrive brings out match quality and competition effects through which improved search technologies may increase both price dispersion and social welfare. A reduced-form empirical analysis finds support for a number of more nuanced predictions of the model in the context of the used book market, exploiting both cross-sectional differences across books and time-series differences in the wake of Amazon's acquisition and incorporation of a large used book marketplace. The paper develops a framework for structural estimation of a model based on the theory. The estimates suggest that the shift to Internet sales substantially increased both seller profits and consumer surplus.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24197