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Thursday, June 30, 2005

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On Gift Books

The gift book phenomena is one of the most fascinating trends in the publishing industry. Most after all are beautiful, eye catching, and worth a glance or two. But does their worth expand beyond that? For the online bookseller gift books can yield a quick return or rot in your stacks forever. The problem is that gift books are the type of book that catches your eye while browsing and online selling is not necessarily the best place for that. The discerning seller can have great success, but it takes a keen eye and a quick sell - for most gift books there is a small window when the selling time is ripe and after that sales fall precipitously. Given the resale value of some of these books, though, it may be worth the chance.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

ABE response to BNBQ changes

In response to some emails and concerns, we have contacted ABE about the recent changes to BNBQ. If they respond I will post immediately.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

More Info on BNBQ Announcements

Alibris was kind enough to share a few details regarding the changes to the BNBQ affiliate program. Here are there highlights.

* Alibris will be the ONLY listings service affiliated with BNBQ when the improved service launches in August.
* Program rules and sign-up procedure will remain unchanged.
* Alibris would not comment on the total number of BNBQ sales currently, but said that sales were "healthy."
* BN.com will improve customer service and increase visibility for used books which "should result in an increase of sales of participating users.
* HTML packing slips are being developed for the BNBQ program.

Monday, June 27, 2005

BNBQ Affiliate Program

Booksellers were hit with emails from top brass at both ABEBooks and Alibris today. It seems as if ABE will no longer be participating in the BNBQ affiliate program, a move that seems to leave Alibris as the lone big listings service left in the Barnes used book department. I find it hard to believe that BNBQ sales alone will cause much of a transfer of sellers, primarily because ABE is the only major bookselling site that allows booksellers to set and collect 100% of shipping fees. Any of the large sellers out there, know that this difference alone can easily cover the difference in fees between Abe and Al - BNBQ sales aside.

How Fraud Can Effect Bookselling Online

A while back, I thought the days of consumers fearful of handing over their credit card numbers online were numbered. Oh, how wrong I was. Identity theft, your general internet scams, and the burgeoning phishing movement have all put the fear back into consumers. A recent study notes that one-third of online shoppers are buying less because of these fears. Note: that's not of all shoppers, but of online shoppers specifically. One of the few attempts to fight this (or more like minimize the damage) is the introduction of a law that allows everyone to receive one free credit report a year. In any event, the threats to internet security pose a serious problem to online sellers. Any attempt to limit these fears and fight fraud should be welcomed with open arms.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Biblio Enhances Listings

Earlier this week Biblio announced a partnership with Muze, a company that provides detailed information on products from the entertainment industry. The addition will be a great improvement to Biblio's listings by adding photos, reviews, synopsis, and more. Biblio is this blog's preferred place to buy and sell books.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Tax Man Cometh

Taxes, taxes, taxes. One of the few remnants from my younger conservative days (is that an oxy moron?) is a hatred of taxes. I am way to independent to enjoy coughing up excessive amounts of taxes. Whether you believe in taxation or not, one has to agree that the whole system is incredibly inefficient. It is government waste and inefficiency at its best. The question of taxes and online sales is a hot topic these days (Borders decision). You can find mention of the general topic on Alibris discussion boards and in articles in the New York Times. In any event, it seems like we all will be expect to pay much more in taxes sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Stack 'Em High, Watch 'Em Fly

One of the great parts about being an exclusively online seller is not having to worry about storefront displays, book placements, and as this column from the Telegraph points out... piles (not to mention rent, heat, and lights). Back when I was 12, we sold books at fairs around the region. As our weekend, cottage enterprise grew, we got bolder and ordered more and more stock at higher quanities. When we got to each show, we had to decide how to showcase these books. We soon learned the power of mass quanities. When we put one book out, modestly, among others or showcased it alone in a stand, people barely stopped to look. When we stacked a few titles 10 high people came from across the room to check it out. It seems many consumers, subconsciously, seem to associate quanity with lower prices and better selection. Little did we know that "our" theory was already being played out on a much larger scale in urban centers across the country. Indeed, the megasellers would eventually make it to us, and when they did, we found they employed this type of strategy with great success... No I don't miss this strategizing. Yet after almost 15 years, it seems it cannot be avoided. Hence, these are the thoughts running through my head as I begin preparing for my first trade show... I can be glad we will only be doing a few of these a year. Here's to the internet.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Look Out Paypal, Here Comes Google Wallet

Even though their Library project scares the hell out of me, you just have to love Google. Rumors have spread about the introduction of Google Wallet, a site built to compete with Paypal. We use Paypal on our site and really do not have any problems with it other than people assuming you need a Paypal account to purchase from us (you don't). Nevertheless, the introduction of legitimate competition will hopefully serve to foster even better service and lower fees.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Press Release We Hate To See....?

Ok, I am torn. I often allude to my grad student experience on this blog, proving that I know the pains of textbook purchases. So on one hand, reading a press release about a book exchange at the University of Texas makes me happy. What a way to stick it to the man (those dirty campus bookstore conglomerates). However, as a seller of academic texts, I know this project can take multiple sales away from my business (but I'm not 'the man'.... right?!). In any event, the press release is worth reading to see what the project views as its competitive advantage over other venues. Try to ignore the, at times, inflated rhetoric and length (what were they thinking?!).

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A New Indie Bookstore Pops Up

Although I am weary of posting every independent bookstore opening (and, unfortunately, closing) that comes into our inbox, this one I wanted to pass along. A former Gene's (PA) employee will be opening Bridge Street Bookshop (could not find a website) in Phoenixville, PA (northwest of Phila). I wanted to pass along the press release because it talks about independent stores in general and mentions one of my favorites from back when I was a Hoya, Politics and Prose in DC.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Blog Disclosure: Biblio Partnership

LRABooks and Booksellingonline have entered into a relationship with Biblio.com. Biblio is the premiere independent listings service. It is simple to maintain an inventory at Biblio and we encourage all sellers to do so. They also allow sellers to set and receive in its entirety shipping charges. Many other benefits are incorporated into their site as well. Sign up and let them know you came from here! In addition, after you sign up, try purchasing your books there as many sellers offer trade discounts. The stronger independent services like Biblio become, the more leverage independent sellers will have at the three As.

Are You Selling Review Copies?

I recently came across an article bemoaning an attempt by publishers to limit the sale of prerelease review copies on listings services. This is, of course, merely an extension of the myriad ambiguities technology and the internet continually pose to intellectual property law. As a used seller I did find the occasional review copy at library sales (usually on accident), and sold them only with some hesitation. However, as grad student, I have to admit, I felt sort of duped when I received two review copies as part of a used book purchase one semester. One was my own haste and fault and the other found me victim to a megaseller's generic descriptions. In the end, this is probably a whole lot of nothing, but worth noting. As for publishers, as the linked article notes, "as if that is their biggest worry."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Self-Employed? What About Health Insurance?

One of the most difficult decisions in deciding to sell books full-time, or as a primary means of income, is health insurance. The American tradition of entrepreneurship is so strong, so integral to the strength of the nation, it upsets me Congress has not taken action to resolve this problem. Entrepreneur recently shared an article discussing possible alternative from an unlikely source.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Biblio Press Release

Biblio, Bookselling Online's preferred listings service, recently posted a press release stating that listings at the site have more than doubled in the last year. Following this post, other ecommerce sites have written stories discussing Biblio (note that while the article states Biblio the third largest marketplace for used books, we think they forgot Amazon?).

Thursday, June 09, 2005

House of Books

Boing Boing had an interesting post today showing a house constructed to resemble books. This includes the roof, siding, and even interior accessories (tables, chairs, etc). Now when you look around my apartment, with remnants from the website, books to be donated piles, and leftover graduate coursework it resembles a house of books, but this looks wayyyy cooler.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Indie Sellers Feature in Business Week

Love it! A great article featuring independent booksellers was published on 2 June on Business Week Online. Very interesting and very good for independent sellers. Stay tuned as LRABooks and Booksellingonline will soon be offering pro-independent bumper stickers and tees.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Yahoo! Auctions Are Free

Its ooooooooooover. Its ooooooooooover. No, not another Blockbuster faux fee elimination, this one's for real. Yahoo has eliminated all fees corresponding to its Auctions feature. In a landscape dominated by fee-increaser eBay, Yahoo seeks to capitalize on a format that would leave most scratching their heads. In fact, if it were not for the success of Craigslist, the new day of free classifieds and auction fee elimination may never have appeared. Thanks for that Craig, and for my new apartment. Read the article that inspired this post.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

NYT Helps Online Sellers

An article in Thursday's New York Times discusses bookselling on the consumer level highlighting internet sellers. The article provides a variety of online book sources and even discusses the infamous penny books on Amazon. This type of article and exposure will result in a nice bump for online sales which have been slightly sluggish in the past few weeks.

The Evolving Book Customer

An AP article written in the shadow of Book Expo America discusses evolving consumer behavior, industry consolidation, and BEA highlights.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Book Placement and Chain Stores

I dream of a world where an amazing independent book, self-published perhaps, gets a full display at the entrance of Borders (now teamed with Amazon for online sales) or Barnes and Noble. While a recent article in the New York Times shows that I am not the only one with such a dream, it also demonstrates how far away from reality that dream is. The fact is that megastores have grown so quickly means that exploiting their influence is an indelible part of any major publisher's marketing strategy. This type of consumer manipulation hurts all booksellers. Please, do what you can to support independent publishers and booksellers.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Get A Cheap and Professional Logo

So I had a logo idea I really liked for our LRABooks website. We worked hard to produce it ourselves but just could not come up with something professional. Curious as to what it would cost me to have it done I did a quick Google search. One of the sponsored ads offered logos for $25. I decided to try it and got burned. Awful. I was going to try and shop it around to the Graphic Design department at the local university, until I came across a mention of Tanya's Logos on the Insider mailing list. Tanya offered to do the logo for $20. She has since offered around 7 different versions of our logo. Each one was spectacular and we are so happy (preview our logo she did). She was kind, prompt, and professional. I highly recommend using her services. Disclosure notice: We are not an affiliate of Tanya's Logos and did not ask for a discount in exchange for running this post.

Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Country But...

Entrepreneur recently posted a really interesting article entitled "40 Government Sites You Can't Live Without." A few of the sites at first glance I was like, "puhlease." So at first I was a little skeptical that any useful information could be found in such an article. Nevertheless, after the initial cursory glance, I went back and looked deeper and I have to say I spend some time surfing the links from this site.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Book Expo America

There is a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding Book Expo America. There is a lot I could say about BEA. However, I think I'd be safest letting the New York Times say its piece and let that be that. It is an interesting article and pretty rosy if I do so say myself.

University Press Associated Stands-Up Against Google

The Association of American University Presses has taken a strong stand against Google's latest attempt to digitize some of the largest libraries in the world. As I read the media coverage of the the AAUP's letter to Google, the more I realize how trouble Google's plan is for online bookselling.

Nonfiction books are the strongest used titles for most online booksellers. Thanks to their limited production, many maintain strong resale values. Unfortunately, as books become accessible through Google there will be an inevitable declension of demand for the backlisted, and even new, academic titles. As a former Grad Student, I spent much of my fellowship on books. Moreover, independent of our own condition, keep in mind that these publishers are not corporations, but rather struggling nonprofits who provide an invaluable resource to the American intellectual community.