Thursday, November 30, 2006

Number Crunching

Every year I think "this is the year that I will be a big girl and do our taxes all by myself." Then the Client Organizer from the accountant arrives in the mail shortly after Thanksgiving and I come to my senses. I spend a half hour filling out the Client Organizer, the accountant prepares the tax return and it's ready a day or two later. I give him $200 and within a couple of weeks both tax refunds are automatically deposited in our account. Cutting the $200 check is an "ouch" moment but I figure a relationship with an accountant is important. I'll have someone to call in a panic if we're ever audited or if I ever have a ton of money and need some advice about tax shelters.

Anyway, I have spent some time printing out Quicken reports from the last few months. Remember those eBay store fee increases last August? To my great surprise, the earnings from our eBay store, which now has only 50 Buy It Now items and 5-10 auctions per week, nearly exceeded our earnings from Amazon during a four week stretch in September-October. On Amazon we have 2000 books listed. Our Amazon earnings were not unusually low and there were no valuable books in our eBay store. It was a matter of a $30 sale here, a $50 sale there and dang if those 50 eBay books didn't nearly beat the 2000 Amazon books. Amazon has since resumed its place as our number one revenue stream but our eBay store with 50 items now steadily generates more revenue than it did when we had 2000 items in the store before the fee hike.

Less really is more. As fun as it is to come with a fresh batch of books from a sale, removing dead weight from the inventory is almost as satisfying. So is sprucing up descriptions and repricing books and seeing them sell quickly as a result. Spending a few hours focusing my attention on the books I already have is always as productive as a few hours in the field.
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Friday, November 24, 2006

Feeding the Google Monster

I took the plunge on Wednesday and uploaded our eBay and Amazon listings to Google Base. All roads lead to Google, it seems. It took forever (10 hours) for our Amazon records to upload. Sheesh. The Google monster is a slow eater, I guess.

Google supposedly provides extra exposure for your books if they are listed in Google Base. Recent discussion over at the
BookThink forum seems to indicate that this is the case. At this point it's unclear to me if this exposure is any greater than the exposure I get from my eBay RSS feeds or Amazon's feeds.

In your Google Base account you can track the number of clicks and impressions your books receive on Google, so that's a bonus. I'm surprised at the number of impressions many of our books have received already. Apparently many people go to Google first when searching for a book, rather than heading straight to Amazon. Clicks are more important than impressions, however. A click can lead to sale. eBay listings have their own link so if someone clicks on your eBay link in Google there's a greater chance of a sale. Amazon listings don't have a link to your specific book, the link directs them to the general Amazon listing, so the clicker will see all available used copies for sale.

Steve Weber pointed out, there's nothing to prevent Google from someday flipping a switch and directing Google book searches solely to Google Base rather than to Amazon or eBay. I figure I should be ready for that possibility. For now, at least, I'll keep feeding the Google monster but I sure hope he starts eating quicker because the upload process is much too slow.
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Monday, November 20, 2006


I want to call your attention to Hugh's Blog. You don't have to be a bookseller to appreciate his thoughts, especially in this post and this post.
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Saturday, November 18, 2006

What is it about bird books?

It's weird. As a reader I never seek out bird books, other than for the occasional reference, and never look at them in bookstores. As a bookseller I always make sure to check the nature section at sales and always grab any unusual bird books. I can't help myself.

When I list books I'm usually all about efficiency. With the bird books, however, I'm like a grandpa driver. I bring on the template that I reserve for my fancier listings, take several photos and can easily spend an hour fussing with the listing. I'm not a birder and it's been several years since I've managed to maintain a feeding station for birds on a consistent basis. I suppose my motivation is that, unlike most of the non-fiction that we sell, bird books are fun to page through and give me a chance to take a break from the computer screen and appreciate nature.

I've never stumbled across any valuable bird books so I don't have any flashpoints for you, unfortunately. I guess bookselling is not always about knowing which books are valuable. Sometimes it's just about appreciating the books themselves.
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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ashamed Book Company

If you use Turbo Lister to list books on eBay (and you should if you list more than a few auctions per week) have you noticed that there is a spell check feature? Use it! I study a lot of eBay book auctions and it's disconcerting to see so many typos in listings. I even find typos in the listings of veteran Power Sellers who use Turbo Lister. Tsk tsk. Use the spell check!

Whenever I use spell check it changes Ashland to ashamed. Harrumph. But I use it anyway and you should too.
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My pal ScoutPal

My next piece about ScoutPal is up at Elaine's bookselling blog.

If you have arrived here from Elaine's blog, welcome! Pull up a chair and feel free to rummage through the archives.
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