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Friday, July 29, 2005

Jessa Crispin's Obtuse Article

I was blown away by Jessa Crispin's Book Standard article. Blown away, that is, in terms of how pitiful it was. When I originally read the article I just ignored it, but after seeing another book blog highlight the article in one of its posts, I had to speak my mind.... Her "comparison shopping" is nothing more than a shallow look at Alibris, Abe, and eBay. Some of my favorite gross overgeneralizations include "at best, I consistently found the same books... for half price" at Abe and Alibris "can be shockingly expensive." As someone who prices hundreds of titles as day through Addall, I can tell you these statements are just silly. This article was entirely misleading and a tad sophomoric. Come on Book Standard, let's raise the bar a little.

Great NYT article

The New York Times recently had an article that does a great job discussing the online used book market, focusing especially on Amazon and college texts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Se Habla Espanol

A while ago we posted about the success of Spanish language bookstores in California. Now, the Book Standard recently posted an article discussing another player in this booming market. Ritmo Latino is a NJ based retail store who has opened 8 stores in the past 18 months. At their locations, all signs are in Spanish and all employees speak Spanish as well. Books originally written in Spanish (not translations) comprises the overwhelming majority of their stock. Books are not its focus (this store carries mostly music titles with books and movies thrown in as well) the articles states it does carry around 2000 books/titles?. The quesiton is, have you tapped into this sector yet?

Donde Esta Harry?

We've talked about the Spanish language book market in the US as one of the strongest areas in the industry. So the question is, where is the Spanish-language Harry Potter book? One Michigan daily asks the question...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Do Not Host Your Website With Startlogic

We have experienced a variety of problems with this host and pitiful support. Our most recent problem goes something like this... For the past 72 hours many of our emails were getting bounced with a message that Spamhaus had blocked our IP address. It seems we were on a shared StartLogic server with a "professional spammer." It took Startlogic three days long to resolve the problem. Ok, not their fault necessarily, just unlucky right....? Not according to Spamhaus who wrote us: "Hello Lucas: Since they've [StartLogic] hosted him several times, and accommodated him by moving him around, it's evident where their loyalties lie. Now they tell us they've removed him yet again, and we've verified it, so SBL23206 has been removed and will expire from the SBL at the next zone update. We regret the inconvenience to you and the other innocent users resulting from StartLogic's loyalty to Mr XXXX. Given their history, StartLogic may not be your best choice going forward."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Seller Removal III: ZVAB/ChooseBooks

* Reserves the right to remove "sellers that do not meet ... our professional, customer care, or ethical standards..."
* In eight years of operation, 40 sellers have been suspended.
* "... We do consider our sellers as partners we work hard with them prior to kicking anyone off..."
* Has a "careful" selection process for approving sellers which leads to "infrequent" investigations.
* Complaints are accepted and looked into, but it is an entirely in-house removal process.
* Booted sellers are welcome back if they can demonstrate that previously problems have been resolved.
* Neither partner publishes fulfillment rates and has no threshold before an automatic review is put into place.
* "If we see a dip in the fulfillment rate, we contact the seller and try to resolve this."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Door to Door Book Sales?

Yes, it is true. In the age of impersonal ecommerce (us) there is a booming company that remains old-fashioned in terms of selling technique. Southwestern Co., originally a Bible selling company (surprised?), formed nearly 150 years ago and continues to sell its books door-to-door, mostly through the use of student salesmen. I tried to ignore this tip, but I kept finding articles about this in my inbox, and actually, after giving in, found the article quite interesting. Its list of alumni include some big time politicos who probably never made the over five thousand dollars a month second year salespersons now average, but still enjoyed their employment. Perhaps now we have a reason why summer sales continue to drop. I am thinking about strapping on my boots, digging up my grad school ID, and heading out to sell some books. Coffee first. (Link)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Canadian Independent Bookselling

A recent article in the Montreal Gazette examines issues surrounding Canadian authors and independent bookstores in Canada. Currently Chapters/Indigo controls 70 percent of all retail sales in the country. Although the article seems to banish independent bookstores from the future, it does give props to the internet seller for contributing to diversity in the industry.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Free Online Business Tools

Small businesses must take advantage of everything free the net has to offer. However, often the free deals get mixed in with free "offers" or "trials" or other premium services. It can be more of a hassle trying to find the right service that it is worth. Entrepreneur just posted a nice article on its website that offers 12 Free Tools for Online Businesses. If you own your own site, or are thinking of doing so, this is a great resource.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Alibris' Potter Buy Back

So when my news alerts came in this morning, I received three news stories all about the Alibris Harry Potter buy back program. Surprisingly each one came from down under. I have no idea why but of the three there were, one from Australia, second from Australia, and one New Zealand. This seems interesting, though I am not sure why....

Former Alibris CFO Moves On

Steve Gillan, one of the architects of the Alibris IPO campaign and former Alibris CFO, has accepted a job with a "leading" search engine marketing company. Read the press release here.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Removing Sellers II: Biblio

* Biblio has had a program to monitor delinquent sellers since its inception.
* An initial removal inquiry is based upon their Booksellers Agreement, but final steps toward removal include other factors like timely responses to inquiries and return policies.
* The process takes places in-house that is based on a review of fulfillment rates and complaints.
* An initial notice is sent to any seller whose fulfillment rate is low and Biblio works with seller to improve.
* Biblio will work with any seller in question "the best they can."
* Biblio's fulfillment rate is 86% around 10 percent less than Alibris.
* Biblio will monitor sellers dropping below 80% fulfillment.
* Biblio does have a unique fulfillment discount program that rewards sellers with discounted commissions for high fulfillment rates.
* Biblio's goal is to "empower sellers to provide superior products and services to our mutual customers."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Removing Sellers I: Alibris

More information from Alibris about removing sellers

* "Overall the goal is to ensure that the network remains a platform for professional sellers..."
* Alibris has always removed sellers, this is not a new policy.
* ISBN bait-and-switch is a "real big problem" especially with textbooks.
* Alibris has an in-house system set-up to examine negligent sellers, but also reviews complaints sent to it by customers or sellers.
* "Generally" Alibris' procedure for removing sellers takes on a "warn, counsel, remove policy." However, if it is clear the seller is performing a scam he or she is removed immediately.
* "Alibris does work WITH the sellers in question. This is not about a witch hunt. The warn, counsel, remove system allows us to interact with sellers and help new or struggling sellers succeed."
* "Common sense" is applied to all cases in addition to the printed rules and regulations.
* Reformed or improved sellers may come back to Alibris and asked to be reinstated with the appropriate proof/statement of improvement.
* Sellers falling 10% percent below Alibris average fulfillment rate will "catch notice" from the company.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Seller Removal Series

The amount of poor booksellers on the internet is staggering. Shoddy and unprofessional busness practices on the information superhighway plague the bookselling industry, just like everywhere else. Spurned by a part of the Alibris July Newsletter, the blog will be looking at seller removal policies at the listings services. We hope to receive feedback from those sites we solicited. We are no longer actively soliciting information from AbeBooks because of lack of success in the past, but will include any credible information sent to us. In addition, any smaller listings service may offer information.

Ebay Resource Center

There are probably more gripes about eBay that accolades. Nevertheless, the allure of eBay never seems to fade away. The power of its marketplace is quite tempting. For those of you out there still flirting with the possibility, never left the possibility, or are thinking about getting back into it Entrepreneur's eBay Business Center is a great resource for you to check out.