Sunday, September 30, 2007

Unusual eBay Feedback

I've bought and sold on eBay for seven years but have never seen eBay feedback like this before. Who knew that one could use feedback as a way to crank out funny one liners.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

An online bookseller who makes $120K

Here's a work at home mom who sells books online and grosses $120K per year. She sells overstocks and remainders. Here's another post about her.

Forty percent of her sales come from Amazon. She also has an eBay store and a website.

It's tempting to think that I'm in the wrong book business but Christine worked as a bookstore manager for 12 years. That gives her an advantage that I wouldn't have. It's interesting, though, to see what other booksellers do. Maybe learning a bit more about remainders and overstocks could be useful. Do any of you out there sell both used books and remainders?
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book Scouting in the Village that Time Forgot

Supposedly the main reason we went to the Cooksville, Wisconsin Fall Festival last Sunday was for book scouting purposes.

True, they have 3-4 tables full of used books for sale at the festival. Cooksville is a rural community and the festival isn't advertised in the Madison paper so it means I get the books to myself and don't have to share them with other dealers. Can't pass up on an opportunity like that.

In truth, however, I figured there was a good chance this could be a four hour vacation for me and my four daughters and we needed one. A trip to New England is out of question at this time but a trip to Cooksville is as good as a trip to a New England village.

The village green and mid-19th century homes make Cooksville "a wee bit of New England in Wisconsin." Most of Cooksville is listed in the National Historic Register. It was founded in 1842 before Wisconsin became a state. Its peak population was 200; now it's 67.

Anyway, we arrive and I immediately went to the book tables because I was here to work, right? I didn't find much. A bird book. The children's book Giants Come in Different Sizes by Jolly Roger Bradfield. Not much, but those two books will pay for the lunch and other incidental expenses we had that day.

Speaking of lunch, it was typical midwestern fare served in the church basement: hot dogs/burgers/brats, baked beans and chips:


There was a square dancing performance while the girls decorated cookies and made crafts:

And my favorite part: The village green. It is a large, open green space surrounded by brick and stone homes in the Greek Revival and Gothic Revival styles. No play equipment, no benches, no picnic tables, just wide open space. Aaahhh:

It's hard to narrow it down to just a few photos of the brick houses but I'll try:



The original house built by the two Cook brothers in 1842:


This is the General Store, still standing and in full operation, with a functional gas pump on the front porch. On the inside there is no blaring TV and no blaring radio, like modern convenience stores always have. The only noise was the creaky wood floors:

The children thought it was necessary to purchase Cow Tales candy. It's a vintage candy but I had never heard of it before even though I was raised in Wisconsin:


It would've been extra cool if I had found some rare, valuable book there, but it's nice, at least, that what little we found will pay for the expenses of this mini vacation.

I wonder if this February I could travel to Hawaii and find enough used books there to pay for the trip....
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Monday, September 10, 2007

Martha Stewart and Halloween

I picked up nine 1995 Martha Stewart Living magazines at a book sale this weekend. Speaking of sales, what's with all the scanners these days? I went to three sales and not once did I whip out my cell phone. I pick through magazines and non-scannable books because, well, that's where the fun is, especially when eBay is one of your selling venues. Those that scan spend more time looking at their screens - do they even look at the title of the book? - than the books and it seems so opposite of fun to me.

But I digress!

I looked at completed auctions for Martha Stewart Living magazines today and noticed that the fall and Halloween issues from this era sell well. So there's a tip for you.

Inspired by the lady who wrote the Pokemon Card listing I loosened up a bit while writing my eBay listing for these mags. At least I had some fun. I'm writing 3000 words about venture capital for a client today so writing the Martha listing gave me a break from that.

I refrained from prison jokes and sarcasm. I figure the people looking at the listing are Martha fans. Actually, even though I'm so Not Martha, I've come to not mind her very much. At least she sticks to her niche - domestic perfection - and doesn't try to be all things to all people.
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Keeping Hope Alive

Today I had hoped to go to Castle Arkdale with my oldest daughter. They are open by appointment only and didn't answer their phone, alas, so we'll try again next week.

This weekend there are three sales to attend. woo hoo! Perhaps the inventory drought will be over. There are two library sales on Saturday morning. There's a library bag sale at 9:00 and then a library sale that starts at 9:30, approximately ten minutes away from the bag sale. It will be rush rush rush on Saturday morning and the children might whine whine whine. But it'll be worth it, I hope.

Then on Sunday is the fall festival at a rural church a half hour from here. We went to it three years ago and it was like walking into an Anne of Green Gables novel; it was almost excruciatingly quaint and charming. There was a cake walk. Classic midwestern food was served in the church basement, where the fixtures and furniture haven't changed in fifty years, I bet. There were several tables of used books outside on tables.

So that's four scouting trips in less than a week (assuming we make it to Castle Arkdale soon). It'll do me good to get away from the computer, blow the dust off my ScoutPal, and scour the shelves.
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Monday, September 03, 2007

Leave Your Passwords in Your Will

We are now in an era where we need to hand down passwords to our relatives the way we once handed down safe deposit boxes, safe combinations, etc. A commenter raised a good point about this yesterday in reference to my mention of Elaine Krieg Smith's now dormant blog.

I've never seen an article or blog post about this so I thought I'd mention it here. If you have a blog, it's ideal if someone could leave a post in the event of a tragic accident or if you otherwise become incapacitated. Even if you don't have a blog, you should consider making a list of user IDs and passwords for sites like the following:

  • Flickr or other online photo storage site.
  • Gmail, Yahoo mail or other web based e-mail that requires a password.
  • eBay.
  • PayPal.
  • Banking website.
  • Your blog, MySpace, Facebook and forum passwords.
  • Bookselling venues.
Give your list to a family member or other trustworthy person. That person should also check your e-mails. I've asked my oldest daughter to keep my list of passwords in a Google Documents file so that it will always be accessible from any computer. She knows how to use Blogger and she's internet-savvy.

A sad example of this is the late Cathy Seipp's blog. During her last few days as she was dying of lung cancer her daughter took over and wrote blog posts that kept readers informed.

I know Elaine subscribed to my blog's feed so if she's out there I hope we hear from her.


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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bookselling Uninspiration

I don't know about you, but this hasn't been a banner summer for finding new inventory. Church rummage sales used to be good to me but not this summer. There aren't any library sales to speak of in the summer. I haven't made a serious effort to use Craigslist to find inventory. I live near a major university so you'd think that would be a gold mine. Someday, maybe, I'll find a way to hit up professors - especially soon-to-retire professors - for inventory. There are undoubtedly many clever ways of finding new inventory.

Rather than be clever I think I will go to Castle Arkdale on Wednesday afternoon. With all those used books to choose from surely I will find things to give a much needed boost to my inventory. Even if I don't, the long drive in the country will be a nice break from the computer.

A side note: Elaine Krieg Smith hasn't updated her blog in six months. Does anyone know what's up with her? I e-mailed her some time ago but she didn't reply.

A final side note: I've added freelance writing to the mix and, as an internet marketing project, and also for personal reasons (my oldest daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes on August 15 and my 12-year-old daughter has had diabetes for seven years), I started a blog about juvenile diabetes. If you know anyone affected by juvenile/type 1 diabetes please feel free to forward the link to them.

If you haven't already, you should take a peek at my recent blog entry for BookThink that describes the best eBay listing ever. Or, alternatively, you can look at a PDF of that eBay listing here. It's brilliant. And will make you laugh.

I hope you have a pleasant (and labor-free) Labor Day.
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