Thursday, December 21, 2006


Vintage paperbacks have a smell that is mellow and satisfying. Sales are not brisk this week so I had time yesterday to stop wrestling with b-flute and cull our fiction section. Third Daughter saw me sniff each vintage paperback and was intrigued and wanted a whiff. She, too, thinks the scent is pleasing and says it is reminiscent of an "old lady who sells books."

I have a couple dozen vintage paperbacks that I've culled from the inventory and think I'll list them on eBay tonight as a lot. A tip: for group lots of vintage paperbacks, when you add the words "cover art" to the eBay title along with "1950's, 1940's", and then list the names of the cover artists in the description, it seems to help drive more traffic to the listing. A week from now, when the auction ends, it will be three days after Christmas. People will probably have some time to putz around on eBay next week so I think I'll list a couple more lots. I have enough Landmark hardcovers to sell as a lot and also enough Modern Library books. Whenever I can pick up a Sue Grafton paperback for fifty cents or less I do and throw it in a box until I have a complete set. When sold as a lot her books will fetch around $2.00 each. I don't think I have enough Graftons for a lot so I'll hold off on that tonight.

I stopped by a thrift store today and looked for the books on the top ten list of out of print books compiled by the Bookfinder Journal. I didn't find any, of course, but it helped to cement the titles in my mind. The shelves were fairly well picked over. This isn't the week for shipping books or acquiring new books, apparently. That's OK. I'll create those eBay listings tonight and tomorrow I'll get to work on culling the children's books. Then I'll close up shop, so to speak, until after Christmas and brace myself for the January sales. Happy Holidays.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Alternate Uses for B-flute

While I wait for the upcoming BookThinker article that will explain how to use b-flute for packaging books, my two youngest daughters have already figured out how to use b-flute:

- As a fort.
- As a runway for doll fashion shows.
- As a table for tea parties.
- As a chair.

B-flute is single corrugated cardboard that, according to BookThink, is the cheapest and most secure way of packaging books. I bought a roll from Pac-N-Seal along with 1000 of the 9 x 12 plastic bags. I've packaged several books this way so far took a long time.. and way too much tape...because I haven't purchased an Extra Heavy Duty Bostich stapler yet, because I'm waiting to see if the upcoming BookThinker article still recommends the stapling method or if he thinks Impulse Sealers are now the best method (sounds dangerous, though, because that involves heat). What I do know for sure is that next time I will purchase 10 x 13 bags instead of 9 x 12 because I ship a lot of oversized children's picture books.

B-flute will also work well for wrapping Christmas presents. It will require less wrapping paper because I'll be wrapping less air; b-flute snugly fits around the book or clothing item or CD or gift certificate. I'm sure we'll find more alternate uses for b-flute. If you know of any that I haven't mentioned please let me know.
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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Is a smartphone necessary?

My article about smartphones is now posted on Elaine's blog. There's a nice lively discussion going on in the comments. Feel free to dive in.
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bye Bye Bookie

You'd think a monthly library sale near an affluent neighborhood would be a Can't Miss item on a dealer's calendar. It was, until a year or so ago. Dealers used to line up at the door.

Not anymore. The stock has dwindled considerably. An annual sale would probably be a better option for this library but I suspect that maybe the lady that works at the sale each month enjoys it very much.

I dragged myself to this sale in November because I hadn't visited this sale for many months. The library sale lady recognized me, even without my entourage of children. As I expected, the inventory was about as exciting as the book selection at the grocery store. I Scoutpaled a few items, not because I thought they might truly be worth something, but so I could feel like I wasn't totally wasting my time.

Then I spotted this book on a high shelf. It had the original price tag of $125.00, which was promising. The publisher was obscure and it had a very specific and alluring title: Spiritually Moving: A Collection of American Folk Art Sculpture. I figured it was worth hauling the eight pound book off the shelf in order to Scoutpal it. The cheapest copy on Amazon was $76.00 and the sales rank was somewhere in the six figures. Woo hoo. The library was asking $15.00 for it but even at that price I knew I'd easily surpass the Rule of Three (selling a book for at least three times what you paid for it) and figured there was a chance it would sell before Christmas. This is the situation where Scoutpal is especially invaluable. I decided to list it in our eBay store in addition to Amazon and it sold on eBay a few days ago.

It was the only salable book at the library and I wondered how it got there. Did a husband in the nearby affluent neighborhood - tired, perhaps, of picking out jewelry and cashmere sweaters year after year - buy it on a whim as a present for his artistically inclined wife one Christmas? The book is very oversized and cannot fit on a normal bookcase. I displayed it on a living room table like a piece of sculpture until it sold. There are only so many times one can page through a book like this and maybe the woman tired of the book taking up so much space and, in a fit of generosity, donated it to the library. It is now on its way to Indiana where, I suspect, it will be given as a gift once again and, once again, someone will have to find a way to store or display this book. I'll close with my favorite photo from the book, one that I appreciate as a resident of America's Dairyland:

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Quicken Dependency

I count on Quicken to such a degree that, well, I don't ever have to count. Quicken does it for me.

In the late 1990's I threw away my paper checkbook register and started using Quicken, a personal finance software program. It balances the checkbook and it can download transactions directly from the bank's website into the checkbook register.

When I started to sell books online I opened a separate checking account for the book business and use Quicken (the basic version) for the record keeping. Each month I print a register report from the checking account to show the expenses and income. I make sure each transaction has a category, such as "office supplies" or "postage." The register report gives subtotals for each category. It takes less than five minutes to crank out one of these reports and I save it on the computer and also put a dead pulp version in a binder.

I don't use QuickBooks, a software program specifically for small businesses, because it's $200.00 and I don't have employees and payroll taxes and all that. Quicken is more than adequate for a sole proprietor. It's only $50.00 and I already owned it.

Because Quicken takes care of these tedious tasks I can focus on the type of counting that is much easier for me: counting the number of books that have sold in a day. Counting the books I'm buying at a sale. Counting the money for the day's bank deposit. Counting the number of peanut M&M's it will take to help me list books for two hours.
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