Friday, July 27, 2007

Thirty Day Challenge

You already spend a lot of time in front of the computer, right? You might want to consider signing up for the Thirty Day Challenge and learn how to make your first $10 online without spending a cent. And without selling a used book.

Ed Dale made $5 million a few years ago selling a group of domains. He started the first Thirty Day Challenge two years ago as a way to help others learn internet marketing.

The emphasis this year is on Web 2.0. I've signed up and so has my 14-year-old daughter. A lot of kids participate too. There's a forum and a blog with daily instruction.
Listening to Dale's Australian accent is certainly a perk.

The challenge officially starts August 1 so it's the "pre-season" right now. The things I've learned so far about Firefox add-ons have been life-changing.

When you earn part of your living selling used books online it certainly can't hurt to learn more about the Web 2.0 world. Did I mention it's free?
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Thursday, July 26, 2007

$30 for Shipping or $0 for Shipping?

Apparently thousands of people opt for the $30 option each month when they purchase Weight Loss Cure by Kevin Trudeau directly from his website.

You can purchase Trudeau's book on Amazon for $13.72 and pay only $3.99 for shipping. You could order all three of his books in hardcover for $49.96 and pay $0 for shipping.

If you prefer you can go to his website and pay $19.95 for the book and $9.95 for shipping. You can get his other two books for "free" as long as you pay the shipping charge of $9.95 per book. The total of the three books is $49.80. The same price as Amazon, basically, although you'd think that, psychologically, people prefer paying a smaller shipping fee. I guess the thought of getting a "free" book is more powerful.

The Amazon sales rank for his book is 24.
As a bookseller I know how buyers hate to overpay for shipping. I naively assumed that the majority of his books sell through Amazon or local bookstores.

Wrong.

This month 199,244 books sold through infomercials at $29.95 each for a total of $5,967,357.80 according to the data card for his book. Sixty five percent of the buyers are women. The majority of his sales are through infomercials.


I used to think that Amazon was the big enchilada but today I learned that if you really want to sell a lot of books you need to use infomericals or direct mail. The internet is still a bit player in comparison.

I wonder how many of those 199,244 buyers who were sucked in by the infomercial this month are people who turn around and complain about paying $3.00 for media mail for a book they buy on eBay.

According to Wikipedia Trudeau has spent a fair amount of time in court and paid fines for FTC violations, so there's a downside. I think I'll stick with my humble little online book business.
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Friday, July 13, 2007

4 Hour Work Week for Booksellers?


Can you imagine jetting off to Europe for a few months with no interruption in your bookstore's cash flow? Timothy Ferris's new book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, attempts to make you think about just that.

Call it extreme outsourcing, if you will. Online bookselling would not seem to lend itself to outsourcing. There's Fulfillment by Amazon, of course. This program allows sellers to ship their entire inventory to an Amazon facility and Amazon processes and ships the orders. I have yet to hear of a seller who actually uses this service, however.

If your life depended on your bookstore functioning in your absence for three months what would you do? This is the question Ferriss tells readers to ask themselves whenever they think something is impossible.

Ferriss does an excellent job of describing how to set up a business and then eventually remove yourself from the picture. For the employees out there he gives advice about how to arrange a telecommuting situation with your employer.

Ferriss also gives good practical tips for handling business e-mail and a bookseller would do well to heed them.

He goes on at some length about mini-retirements vs. vacations. A person should have several mini-retirements per year (i.e. spending several weeks in a foreign city learning something new) rather than saving it all for the last 20 years of your life, he says. A nice concept but maybe some of us are content with stability and, say, spending time at a cottage a few hours from home - or even staying home - rather than constantly traveling the world. Not surprisingly, Ferriss is single and 29-years-old.

Even if this book does not appeal to you, treat yourself to the My Outsourced Life essay by A. J. Jacobs, an editor at Esquire. Outsourcing to India never sounded so good.
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Monday, July 09, 2007

Book Mooch: Training Ground for Future Booksellers

A month ago First Daughter discovered Book Mooch. This site is a book swap site and is a way to unload of books that have worthless resale value.

Now, suddenly, she is interested in bookselling tasks that have never been of interest before. She has learned that it's a bother to fill out customs forms and learned the hard way that it is much too expensive to swap books with someone overseas.. She knows about the wonders of the Priority Mail flat rate envelope. She even knows how to package a book in b-flute and volunteered to package some of my orders. She designed her own shipping labels and, for cost-effectiveness, has decided to ditch the b-flute in favor of wrapping them in paper bags (they are cheap paperbacks).

Now I know what it's like to be on the other end. I have made trips to the post office and stood in line because she needed to ship books, not because I needed to ship anything. It's tedious. She dragged me to a library bag sale on Saturday - a sale that I would not normally attend. I wandered aimlessly and got bored and was ready to go home much sooner than she was. Just like my kids when I'm at a sale and engrossed in the task of finding inventory.

The amount of book clutter in the house is much reduced now, thanks to her efforts. She's starting a collection of books in a particular niche and Book Mooch packages arrive almost daily.

She doesn't seem ready to take the Amazon plunge yet and look for books with at least a $10 resale value. Someday, maybe, she'll be assimilated. For now I'll enjoy having someone to complain to the next time I have to fill out a customs form. And who knows. Maybe I'll start book mooching too.


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