Wednesday, February 28, 2007

If only all e-mails were like this

Yesterday a customer was kind enough to send me the following e-mail:

Dear Ms. Ashland:

I received the book, "A Castle and Sixpence", on Saturday, Feb. 24. It came just one day before my sister's birthday. It is everything I hoped it would be. Thank you for a beautiful book.

My sister and I read this story when we were small, and reading it now takes us back to our childhood years.

Thank you again.


[name withheld]

P.S.: We read this story in an album called "Bounty Book for Girls". If you should ever get a hold of that album with this story in it, please let me know. I would very much like to buy it. The album had many illustrated British stories in it, and it was published probably around the early 1960s.

An e-mail like this says a lot about a person, doesn't it? I wish I would've read that book before selling it. If any sellers out there have Bounty Book for Girls in stock hit the e-mail button in my sidebar and let me know. It sounds like a sure sale.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Of blizzards and Stepahnie Plum

So there was a blizzard last weekend. This gave me extra time that I could have used to list books on eBay. I dutifully took the photos and set then set the camera aside because one must pace oneself. To take photos and immediately go to the computer and upload them and create listings would feel too much like work. A day later I picked up the camera but the battery cover was missing and the camera is inoperable. Oops. I tried to blame the children but could not; I was the last one who touched the camera (although I did manage to silently blame my husband, figuring he must have thrown it in the trash while doing clean up). Happily I found a battery cover for it on eBay.

This gave me more extra time than I anticipated so I picked up a copy of One for the Money by Janet Evanovich and began reading. I realize I'm rather late to the game because there are already twelve books in the Stephanie Plum series.

From a bookselling perspective, her books are like Sue Grafton's. A complete set of paperbacks will sell as a lot for about $2 per book. The books are plentiful at sales; just reach out and grab. First edition hardcovers can be worth something if you know how to spot them.

The content of the books is similar to Sue Grafton's too. Both feature a happily single young woman without much of a personal life (or money) who spends her days pursuing criminals. Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter who lives in New Jersey and, as a result, the book was grittier than the Kinsey Millhone books I remember reading several years ago. The books are funnier too. Is it possible to read the scene where her grandmother accidentally shoots the chicken on the dinner table and not laugh out loud? Perhaps not.

Each time I have a book lot I'll probably let myself indulge myself in a few more Stephanie Plum adventures. Let myself get lost in the lot for a day or two before listing it.
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Monday, February 19, 2007

If only all library sales were this well organized

After a few weeks of cold and snow, which followed nearly two weeks of illness, I decided it was time to leave the house. And the city. And the state, even. I decided to go to the Palatine, Illinois library sale with First and Second Daughters last Friday.

Thanks to Book Sale Finder I knew that there would be 15,000 books, all of them donated, so I figured it might be worth it. Palatine is two hours away and not exactly a fantasy February travel destination so we decided to whoop it up and stay spend the night at a hotel after the sale. I was confident that the books that we would find would more than cover the cost of the trip, which, of course, wasn't purely for business. Even if the sale had been full of Reader's Digest books and microwave cookbooks it would have been worth it because Third and Fourth daughters were not with me, they stayed home with my husband. Aahhh.

The library has a parking garage and an entire room full of DVDs. After wandering around a little bit in awe we got into the line, which was already 30-40 people deep. I forgot our bags in the car and therefore probably didn't look at all like a dealer. Like I always do, I looked at the other people in line to see if I could tell who the dealers were. Even if all of them were dealers, if you divide 15,000 by 30 there should still be plenty of books for everyone.

After a five minute wait we entered the sale. I entered the children's area first. There were no dealers in that room, which is often the case when I attend a library sale. That's fine. More books for me that way. Plus all the children's books were priced at 25 cents, which is usually the case at sales. I plucked a few gems from that room, including the Christmas Book published by Whitman in the 1950's. It's worth $40.00 and I've sold it before.

I headed into main room but it didn't feel crowded. I noticed about six other dealers there, all with scanners on their smartphones, and First Daughter was jealous. I only used ScoutPal once (see, who needs scanners, I told her) and scooped up several items for book lots on eBay, such as Wildlife Fact Files and Sue Grafton paperbacks.

My muscles didn't get the usual workout because there were tables where one could place one's boxes of books. This enabled me to relax more because I didn't have to worry about people rummaging through my boxes, thinking my books were fair game. A volunteer would add up the books and attach a paper with the final cost. I didn't even have to go stand in line to pay. I just handed the money to a volunteer and, to my surprise, she put the boxes on a cart and wheeled them to the door. She showed me where to pull up my van and after I pulled up an elderly gentleman wheeled the cart to the van and insisted on loading the books for me. Book Sale Finder said this was a well organized sale but never did I expect this royal treatment. I can't count the number of times that I've carried partially ripped bags of books and overflowing boxes to the curb, hoping no one would tamper with them while I ran off to get the van.

Kudos to the Friends of Palatine volunteers. If you're near Palatine it's a sale worth attending. When it's February and it's cold and there aren't a lot of orders it's nice to give the inventory a boost and also give the morale a little boost by letting yourself be treated so kindly by these volunteers
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Google Off Base?

I've decided I've had it with Google Base. Amazon can rest easy because I doubt Google seriously wants to make a dent in the bookselling market because it takes too dang long to upload books to Google Base.

The only time I was successful in uploading my entire inventory to Google Base it took 15 hours. During those 15 hours I could have written down each title by hand and sent the list by carrier pigeon to the Google headquarters. I could have uploaded the inventory
10,800 times to Amazon and the other venues (it takes five seconds to do uploads to those sites). My computer has a wireless connection so, occasionally, the connection breaks for a few seconds, thus I'm unable to let the computer run for the 15 hours necessary to do the upload because it freezes at some point. Grrr.

Yesterday I thought I outsmarted Google Base by uploading the inventory to BuyBundle. Now, no one is going to buy a bundle of books from me on Buybundle. The whole point in listing books with Buybundle is that they list the inventory on Google Base for you. It took mere seconds to do the upload. Groovy. Except only half of my inventory appears on BuyBundle. Huh? So, heck with Google Base. I've heard many booksellers squawk with glee over Google Base because they think it increases sales. But surely Amazon and eBay listings can appear on Google without benefit of Google Base?

While I'm ranting I might as well wonder if anyone out there has ever successfully sold a book to an international customer through Choosebooks? Every time I receive an international order it says that the buyer wants to pay on account. I'm an American and I don't play that game. Show me the money and I'll show you the book. I send an e-mail requesting PayPal payment but never ever receive a response. A waste of time.

IOn a more upbeat note, f you, like me, need a break from uploads, or the cold weather, you might enjoy this series of mysteries, based on the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy characters from Jane Austen. Sadly, there are only three books in the series so far, but they are giving me reason to endure the cold and adding a fun element to my evenings, and I'm grateful.
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Monday, February 05, 2007

Viral Plague

My daughters and I were afflicted with the viral plague for oh so many days, thus the light posting around here. Thanks to the laptop I was able to keep an eye on things while I was bed-ridden.

Auctions that I listed before the plague sold, including a $300 set of books. That was encouraging. The night all the books sold it seemed unthinkable to me that I once had the energy and ability to list books. I looked at the listings in disbelief. "I made those? I took photos? I wrote descriptions? How?" Bookselling seemed like a distant memory and I wondered if I'd have the strength to do it again someday.

While I was bed-ridden eBay announced its fourth quarter earnings and it looks like overall eBay had a great year: $6 billion in revenue, up 31 percent. I guess those fee increases didn't hurt them. Maybe it's time to buy some eBay stock. Amazon had $10.7 billion in revenue last year and forecasts $13 billion in revenue this year. Amazon and eBay are here to stay. Job security for us, I guess.

Happily, many of the eBay store items that have had watchers for many weeks and months have been selling. I haven't created any new listings for at least a couple of weeks and when you don't have new listings sales are supposed to slump. The book business has been taking care of us even though I haven't been able to mind the store. I also appreciate how, thanks to the internet, a customer will buy a $300 set of books from you even though you are bed-ridden and look miserable and have almost no strength to package the books.
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