Friday, July 10, 2009

A shameless plug (this has nothing to do with selling books)

So, this has nothing to do with books, so please forgive me. I just started a website. Check it out at
Thanks! I hope you are having a great summer!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The merits of Book Scanners

I was just having a conversation with a good friend recently about scanning books at the point of sale (before buying them). I came away confident in my position and he in his. I think that it really depends on what your business model is. If you are just trying to get a lot of inventory moving and have a venue to sell the mountains of penny books (he has his own bookstore as well as an online store) then it may be a good idea to just buy books in bulk. I however have started to move towards a different business model. While at the very beginning I would buy large lots of books for very cheap per book, I found it to be a lot of work and while there would be those hidden treasures, most would be junk. I now am trying to limit my inventory to higher priced and fast moving inventory, but less of it. It works well with trying to get an internship this summer also.

While some sellers think that they have the eagle eye and are proud of being able to spot books they want on the spot, I think that as they say, the pride comes before the fall. This seller will often miss good deals that are right in front of them. For example, I went to a sale on Saturday and there were 30,000 books there. I was able to go through and scan the ones that had barcodes, but still keep my eye on the older, non-barcoded books in order to be able to spot a deal. Using this method I saw a textbook with a great sales rank and worth $50. Otherwise, I would have had to take quite a bit of time to decipher if it was worth it or not and maybe would have made a wrong choice. Using a scanner doesn't mean you have to be an idiot with no idea what a good book looks like, it just means that you are humble enough to admit you don't know the price of every book online.

I look forward to your thoughts and some debate. Thanks

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The all important feedback rating

Keeping (or getting to) that elusive 100% feedback rating on Amazon is tricky. Good thing I'm here to give some advice. First, it should be noted that if you are going to sell a lot on it's going to be near impossible to keep that perfect rating, but it's worth trying.

1. Treat the customer with RESPECT like you would like to be treated. This is critically important. I know you may be frustrated that you get an inquiry asking about something that was clearly listed on your description, but put that away and answer with a polite email. When a customer asks where the h*ll is my package it's been 2 days?!? Just take a breath and remind them of Amazon's policy and informing them that their item is shipped.

2. Pack your items with care. Sellers don't care that with all of Amazon's crazy fees you couldn't afford anything other than something you pulled out of the dumpster. They care that their book got to them in good shape. I wrap my books in bubble wrap then wrap that with brown 3m shipping paper. It works out well and it looks really nice. I know that there are other good options too, like the multi-d and padded envelopes, but for now this is the most cost effective for me.

3. If there is a poor feedback left, contact the customer (without being annoying about it). Most people will remove feedback if you deal with their problem by giving them a refund, sending another book, or even sending an apologetic email.

To sum it all up, treat the customer like you would like to be treated.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Penny Books

There are many out there that don't understand why on earth someone would list a book for a penny. I must admit, years ago whe I was looking at buying online I was amazed and a little scared by this. I thought that it must be a mistake or a scam and either way I am staying away from it. Once I got into the book selling business I realized that sometimes these were really good deals and since have bought quite a few with no problems at all.

So why do sellers list them for a penny?

Heres why: A while ago, before I even got in the business, automatic repricers caught hold and if 2 sellers had automatic repricers on the same item, they would each undercut eachother a penny until the book was at the lowest price (.o1). Since the repricers weren't as smart as they are today, this brought a lot of books down to a penny and a lot have not recovered.

So your saying; that makes sense, but why wouldn't the seller just throw out those books?

Well, a lot of smart, smaller sellers will, but the big guys believe that they can make some money on these still. Its estimated that they can make as much as 40 cents on a penny book because the shipping credit outweighs the actual cost of shipping the book. The reason a large seller can do this and not a smaller one is because the larger seller can get bulk discounts on shipping supplies and even gets a bulk rate shipping discount from the usps (US postal service).

As always, feel free to respond! Have a good week and try to smile!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Creative Sourcing for Booksellers

I was looking for some book sales over at and I came across an advertisement for a product called Creative Sourcing for Booksellers. I checked out their website and it looks like they want to sell you a product that will teach you the best places to find inventory. The whole system cost $150. I was wondering if anyone has used this product and if they would recommend it. I was intrigued by the website, and they offer 100% money back, but that's still a great deal of money to part with.
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The myth of the customer email

One thing that I have learned from emailing back and forth with customers is this. If they are sending you an email, honestly, it probably means they have no interest in purchasing from you. It seems crazy, but it has happened to me so many times. There have been times where 4 or 5 polite emails have been sent back and forth describing the book's great qualities. Even if my book is in great condition, the customer will seldom buy that book. The important thing to remember as booksellers is that while these emails might not result in sales, it is our public image, and treating them well is still very important. While only a small percentage end up buying your book, a large percentage of the customers that do buy end up leaving feedback. It is something about their personality, they are highly involved consumers and they seem to also like to inform others of their experience, whether good or bad.

As always, I appreciate your comments, both positive and negative.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I am a college student and around the beginning of the semester it is always interesting, while checking my mail to see the books arriving in the mail for the student's classes. I witness a lot of good packaging and too many shoddy packing jobs. I was fairly successful with my purchases, going with the combination of a good seller rating, good condition, and good price. There were many very good ones, but a few I wondered if that person usually packed their books like this, or had just run out of materials. One in particular was a small paperback put in a large envelope (like one that you would see for in office use) and it was folded over and taped shut. Amazingly it arrived to me in one piece. I was actually fortunate because a friend of mines was wrapped in scraps of a grocery bag. Apparently there was no bubble wrap and a few of the corners were ripped and the book was in pretty bad shape by the time it arrived to him.

I do understand the need to save money. A thing I have realized is this isn't a gold mine of a business. You need to scrimp and save everywhere you can. Even considering that though, the custumer needs to be able to recieve the book in the condition it was described. It makes no difference if it was perfect when it left your door it needs to arrive to the customer in that condition also. You can blame the post office all you want (and we all do it!) The fact is though, we know they are going to be rough. We need to package ready and prepared to deal with that.

Have thoughts? Ideas, suggestions? I'd love for you to share!