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Monday, February 27, 2006

Oops we missed it!

Thanks to a loyal reader (ehem, former editor JH) who pointed out today that we forgot to mention our birthday.

Cheers to Bookselling Online, who turned 1 year old on February 26, 2006.
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As boredom set in....

Just as I was about to whine about the slowness of things around here, I receive a jolt... and again as it was nearly 5 months ago, it came from Abebooks (see: Wow... Abebooks Acquires Bookfinder.com. The Book Standard and the San Francisco Business Journal both reported today that Abe has acquired seller tool Fillz (stories linked, not main sites).

While I could certainly find a multitude of avenues to take this acquisition, in terms of what it means for Abe, online booksellers, etc, I think it is important to take this moment to laud the site for proving once again it remains a proactive player in the online bookselling industry. In terms of sales numbers alone, I know many are scratching their heads when it comes to Abe (not to mention its past "deals" with megasellers). Nevertheless, it remains the largest online marketplace that allows sellers to set a shipping reimbursement rate that is at least EQUAL to the cost of shipping a book. Moreover, you have to be impressed with these acquisitions, even if we all are wondering how exactly this may or may not benefit Abe sellers.
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Homemade millionaires

I love inspiration. Great entrepreneur/small business magazines are always full of inspiring stories that never fail to get me motivated and inspire new ideas. Entrepreneur recently posted an article profiling millionaires who built their companies from within the home. I know many of our readers own home-based business, so I though this would be a nice addition to today's posting.
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Online Business Security

An argument can be made that one should spend just as much on security for an internet business as for a retail, brick and mortar, location - if not more. However, some operations are not large enough to permit anything more than basic security. Never really even thought about security? You're not the only one. Auctionbytes has posted a great article to get you thinking about security for your online business.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

B&N on online sales

Barnes and Noble CFO, Joseph Lombardi, recently spoke regarding online sales for the company. During the speech he reported that sales were just below the industry's projected growth of 10% per year. The fact that B&N is falling short of PROJECTED growth numbers is unbelievable. First of all, the statement is misleading because while 10% was projected, the industry undoubtedly grew at a faster pace. Second, for a company like B&N not to be above the rate for the entire industry is a business failure given its name recognition and respect among consumers.

I've posted twice before encouraging B&N to change their strategy toward used books as a method for increasing overall online sales (Big Surprise: BN Holiday Sales Stagnate and An Alibris Without Amazon). Studies repeatedly show how Amazon's used book strategy has not cannibalized, but actually boosted new book sales. It is time for B&N to consider increasing the visibility of its new book offerings (including the price!).
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Great run for online booksellers

By any stretch, December-January was a good time for online booksellers. Alibris reminded us of this by informing its sellers of 30% growth in January. There is no doubt there has been some chill in online sales this past week, mostly due to the drop in textbook sales. Nevertheless, it should be a good time for booksellers to catch their breath and immediately begin planning for the next push.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Great offer from Biblio

Biblio wants to be your first choice when buying books. Booksellers on Biblio.com already benefit from reciprocal discounts and our unique CashBack program. For all purchases you make through your Biblio Bookseller Member account from February 1st through February 28th, you will receive an additional 1% (one) percent in CashBack. That is 5% on all Biblio.com purchases for the month of February. Find out more today!

This is another example of how Biblio puts initiatives for its sellers into action. Less talk, more action, seller focused - that's why you should choose to sell on Biblio.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Biblion has "major" problems

Biblion, a UK-based listings service, is currently down noting "major problems with our servers." Launched in April 2000, the site has been growing at a fairly good rate since that time. Subsidiary, Biblion Auctions, remains up and running smoothly. What is especially worth noting, however, is the last line of their short announcement directing users searching for books to AbeBooks. While this is a nice courtesy to users, I am still scratching my head as to why they have set this link up. The link is an affiliate link, not a direct one, meaning Biblion will receive a commission for every sale referred to Abe.... but even so...? To us, it portrays the site (Biblion) as "small potatoes", when previously we saw it as a strong up-and-coming listings service, especially in the European market.
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Saturday, February 11, 2006

IOBA Misses Opportunity, Defends Listings Services

IOBA recently declared its LACK of independence by taking its membership recruitment to the Alibris discussion board. It order to maintain its postings on the Alibris discussion board, the organization's representatives chose to compromise its independence and bow before Alibris defer important questions of shipping In a blinded zeal for increasing membership, it has neglected to uphold a basic element of its mission (paragraph 3: "Negotiating with businesses, organizations, and possibly governmental agencies that have an impact on internet bookselling.") and explicitly deferring questions/problems regarding shipping to Alibris. Also, given metrics from independent online sources, like Alexa and Google Page Rank, comparing it with similar sites, the idea that the listings service gets nearly 100,000 visits per month seems suspect. The other question is how many of those are exclusively for seller maintainance?

As an aside, Alibris' own interjections on the board are growing more and more - I have to wonder do we want the director of marketing driving more people to the site or monitoring seller discussions?
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Search Engine Placement

Searching for used books on Google? Here are the first page results (non-sponsored listings):

(1) ABEBooks
(2) Bookfinder
(3) Alibris
(4) Powell's
(5) Amazon
(6) Bibliofind
(7) Fetchbook
(8) Used book search
(9) Addall - used
(10) Used Book Central
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Monday, February 06, 2006

Independent Booksellers Advocacy?

I've had a few people contact me regarding the Independent Online Booksellers Association. I think most of this comes from a recent posting on the Alibris discussion board entitled "Maintain Your Independence with IOBA..." In the past, I've enjoyed a few interesting conversations, if less than fruitful, with the IOBA president about some exciting initiatives for online booksellers including an annual trade show. Given its mission and history, it is definitely an important and successful organization... with one exception: online bookseller advocacy.

Online booksellers are growing in numbers. Because of that, it is becoming easier for listings services like Amazon, Alibris, et al to get away with egregious seller policies like the current shipping reimbursement on both sites. My question is where is IOBA in all of this? Are they educating members? Are they lobbying the sites? Are they gathering petitions? Are they proposing alternatives? Are they more than member benefits and another place to sell your books?
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With Google on the Prowl...

With Google lurking somewhere in the shadows, AuctionBytes recently released the results of its Online Payment Survey (raw results). Nearly half of the respondents said they believed a greater choice in online payment services was necessary. No one knows for sure what Google will be doing, but Paypal execs are trying to ease investor fears that it will directly compete with its services.
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Customers Chime In

This past week we had around 6 customers send in their displeasure with how shipping charges are handled on Alibris and Amazon. More than one called it the equivalent to those eBay sellers who charge excessive shipping to pad their sales numbers. Nearly all termed it some derivative of "misleading or "deceptive" or "crooked." Needless to say this was nice to hear and I encourage consumers angry with these policies to take their business to sites where booksellers charge their own shipping prices (and receive it all) like Biblio or Abebooks.
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Online Marketing

For those of us maintaining our own websites, the question of traffic growth is ever present. The fact is online marketing is such a nascent idea, that it is constantly evolving. Entrepreneur recently posted an article entitled "Hot New Ways to Market Online." This is a nice, brief, way to stay on top of the game.
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Amazon Continues to Innovate

While I dislike many things about Amazon, one thing I greatly admire is their ability to perpetually innovate despite their increasingly corporate empire. As an entrepreneur well aware of how corporations stifle innovation, this is good to see. The most recent addition to the Amazon fold is Amazon Connect. Connect is nothing more than a platform for authors to reach their readers, in terms of postings and message boards. It offers a great alternative to their author's website. (Link: News article)
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Loving What You Do?

The big question many new online booksellers face is, "Can I make a living doing this?" I am firm a believer that if you are willing to work full-time in this industry it is very do-able. However, there is one caveat- you have to love what you're doing. Just like any business you have to have a passion - a real drive - for the industry. The toughest problem new sellers face is not cash flow management or covering their first three months of fixed costs - it is really finding enough inventory. Hunting, digging, scrounging, researching, all take immense amounts of time and inevitably lead to numerous dead ends. Passion and persistence can help you rise above these issues.

The impetus for this, almost cliche, entry was a great story from Entrepreneur entitled "Passion Into Profit" which I highly encourage all readers to look over- you may find great motivation.
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