Thursday, April 23, 2009

So it's been awhile...

Hello, anyone still out there?

I know I haven't been around these here parts for some time. So here I am with an update.

Last fall I sold my inventory of books on Craigslist and, after three or so years of active online bookselling, I have moved on to a new business.

What I'm doing now is still applicable to you as an online bookseller so hang on. More on that a minute.

Online bookselling was a great way to get started with earning a living online. But, gradually, I reached the point where I'd have to outsource certain tasks to keep my sanity. Specifically, the packaging of the books and the taking of photos for eBay.

The business had reached the adolescent phase and to get to the maturity phase I couldn't keep doing it all without outsourcing. 

Also, I wasn't really feeling the joy in going out and finding inventory anymore. The other day I went to an antique store to look for jadeite plates and it was such a relief to not have to pay attention to the books there. :-)

Another strain was that I found it difficult to crack the $2K per month income ceiling. Which made paying for outsourcing not very tenable. I know, I know, a lot of people would think $2K per month is a great thing, and it was. But I have four kids, my husband was out of work for a while and debts racked up, so I was in need of more income.

Anyway, writing has always been my first love and I discovered freelance copywriting. I now have a steady stream of clients and write for their online businesses. Email copy is my specialty. Essentially I discover and write about the stories of my clients' products and businesses.

The income is much better and doesn't require schlepping to book sales or to the post office.

I now know more than a thing or two about internet marketing and how to create websites. Several of my clients are millionaires and I've paid attention to how they run their businesses and various techniques they use.

This is where you come in.

I know that with the recession going on you might be looking for ways to grow your business beyond just listing books on Amazon and eBay.

Maybe you don't have a website yet. Maybe you've heard of things like Twitter and other social media and wonder if that would help.

Maybe, just maybe, you'd like some passive income in addition to the income from your sales. For example, if you specialize in children's books, you could sell information based on your expertise.

There's no end to what we could discuss about growing your business using the internet. I know there are already a lot of people out there who can tell you which books to look for, the best way to ship them and all that other stuff. But the last time I checked there wasn't any info out there about marketing for online booksellers.

So if you'd like to see posts like that here, please leave a comment. Or send me an email.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my copywriting blog. Even if you don't know the first thing about marketing or copywriting you might find it enjoyable. I tell stories and try to keep things fun and upbeat over there.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

One of the biggest bookstores in the the middle of nowhere

I've written about this used bookstore before and was delighted to find this video:

The bookstore is literally in the middle of nowhere, among corn and soybeans, yet there are one million books.

They do everything wrong from a business perspective:

No website.

No sign at the end of the driveway.

Only open one day per week.

No advertising.

No profit.

Bad location because there is no foot traffic...or any traffic at all. When I first went there Google Maps couldn't give me directions. A bookseller who frequents the store had to give me directions.

Yet in doing everything wrong there's something so right about their business.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is eBay just a fad?

According to this Business Week article, it looks like this might be the first year that fixed price sales will surpass auction sales at eBay.

Speaking only for myself, I know I can hardly tolerate bidding on an auction anymore. I prefer Buy It Now items.

Are auctions on their way out?
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Do you have backends?

No, not *those* kind of backends.

I mean the kind of backend (i.e. upsell) that someone who ships products to customers should use.

That someone being you, of course.

Over on a forum I participate in there's a discussion about Amazon and how they could sell even MORE books, if such a thing is possible.

One of the veteran marketers in this forum said that he ordered a marketing book recently and inside the package was a print advertisement for a Harry Potter book. What a missed opportunity, according to him. Why not instead include a promotion for something similar to what he ordered?

It would be far more effective to include a flyer, handwritten note, or a suggestion list for similar books, and offer free shipping or a discount. Maybe even include a prepaid envelope.

When someone opens a package it's always a little bit like Christmas and you have a captive audience for a few moments. A special insert like that will increase your sales and repeat business. After all, it's easier to sell to a person who has already purchased from you.

Amazon does a great job of sending e-mails with book suggestions and luring you with those "customers who purchased __________ also purchased _________" suggestions on their website.

But here's one area where they could improve and where maybe even you could do better than Amazon.

If you use backends/upsells in your business, feel free to discuss in the comments what has worked (or not worked) for you.
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Are you boycotting eBay this week?

If so, I'd love to hear about that. If not, I'd love to hear about that too.

I don't participate in any eBay forums so I'm not as caught up in the drama about this as some sellers are but I do think eBay shot themselves in the foot. They want to make eBay more appealing to buyers but seem to be forgetting that there can be no buyers without the sellers. The sellers are eBay's customers too and should be treated accordingly. If something is ticking the sellers off this badly, I hope they will snap to attention.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Bring on the ebay changes!

Most of my bookselling efforts are now focused on eBay because the types of books I enjoy selling sell best on eBay. Frankly, going to a library sale and standing in front of a stack of books with a scanner and scanning ISBNs does not interest me. Yawn. I focus instead on books the scanners leave behind because they don't have ISBNs.

So I probably should be upset about the eBay changes because they, on the surface, seem to hurt sellers.

But I'm not upset.

Bring on the changes! The more dramatic, the better.

Changes are a good wakeup call and a reminder that placing your inventory entirely in the hands of eBay and/or Amazon is similar to working for a corporation. You have very limited control.

The more changes you as a seller will be forced to endure, the more the more you will realize:

* You have excellent sales skills even though you might be an introvert.
* You know how to treat a customer with respect and good manners.
* You have an excellent working knowledge of e-commerce.
* You might even have learned some HTML basics along the way.

In short, your skills are invaluable and, ultimately, as a bookseller, you don't really need eBay or Amazon. In other words, you rule! :-)

Craig Stark recently said over at, a transaction takes place between two people. Trust is at the foundation of this transaction, no matter how many changes take place at eBay or Amazon.

I'll have more to say about this in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the new changes (yep, even the one that doesn't let me leave negative feedback for buyers).
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Does anyone ever find books on these top ten lists?

As you know, BookFinder publishes the top ten out of print books for the year each December. If you haven't seen the 2007 list yet the US list is here and the UK list is here.

These lists are very cool and interesting, of course. What I'm curious about, however, is if any of you have ever found one of these books while out scouting?

Do you carry these lists in your scouting books? Or do you commit any of these titles to memory? If so, have you ever found one of these books while you've been out and about looking for new inventory?

Or have you ever found one through dumb luck, not even realizing it was a valuable title?

Just curious.

I'll dutifully print out this year's list and dutifully carry it in my notebook. Maybe this year will be the year I finally find one of the titles.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

For your eBay reading pleasure

A friend of mine has started selling things on eBay. If you need some entertaining reading, check out her auction for some placemats and a flower art book.

I've seen countless eBay listings over the years and almost never have I seen listings as well done as these. I think booksellers especially tend to be rather uptight in describing their books and making sure to use proper lingo like "first edition, first state, with minor rubbing on the dust wrappers." But hardly anyone understands that lingo anyway. Most sellers, especially those with eBay stores, don't use any lingo at all and you're lucky to get a one line description.

That flower book only sold for five bucks but I looked it up on eBay and see it has a sales rank of four million and sells for $1 over there. So she did a good job of getting it out the door in a week, whereas it would've sat on Amazon indefinitely and would not have sold for as much as $5.00, if it ever sold at all.

She's received a lot of favorable comments about her fun descriptions and at least a few have placed bids just for the entertainment of it all. Way to go!

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Perfume for the bookseller on your Christmas list

Here's a perfume for book lovers. It's a unique website with fun copy. Be sure to click on "story" so you can read the full description of the perfume. Their other perfumes look good too and are so different from what you see at the perfume counter at Macy's.

I'm glad that websites aren't laden with perfume the way women's magazines always are but this is one time I wish I could smell samples on a website.

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