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Monday, July 31, 2006

Update your RSS/XML

If you follow us through a feed service, you may have missed that we've moved to a new domain and layout. First check it out and then update your feed to http://www.booksellingonlineblog.com/feed/

Friday, July 21, 2006

Toolhaus utilities for eBay

Thanks to Lifehacker for reminding us today about Toolhaus, a great resource for researching feedback/sellers on eBay. Below are the four main utilities:

  • Enter a user ID to view negative/neutral feedback received or left
  • See the feedback which two eBay users have left each other, or you can enter an item number to check the seller and buyer/current high bidder
  • Show a user's recent feedback with the item's title and groups feedback from Dutch Auctions into a single entry
  • Take an eBay item number, and check the bidders to see which items from the same seller they've bid on

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Angry eBay store owners

I have received a bevy of emails in the past day from angry eBay store owners about fee and placement changes for eBay store owners. As of 22 August, insertion fees for eBay store listings will increase by 150-400%. Commission fees will be 10% on sold items.

Fee increases are always the most contentious because they impose the most direct consequences. However, eBay also announced that it will be making efforts to scale back the visibility of eBay stores. This is quite surprising for store owners, of whom there are 541,000 worldwide, because President and CEO Meg Whitman kicked off this fiscal year stating the company would increase exposure of eBay store listings. Clearly, the company now feels that these were misguided decisions. As of right now, store listings compose 83% of all eBay listings, but just 9% of gross sales volume.

In some of her interviews on the subject, Whitman noted how store listings have taken away eBay from its original "magic" - the auction format - and perhaps she is right. Nevertheless, the dramatic about face is a true disservice to eBay store owners, most of whom are eBay's most committed sellers.

(See AP article via the Boston Herald)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shipping rates down under

Interestingly, Australian booksellers are facing their own issues regarding international mail - and much more devastating ones at that. Currently, the point of contention centers around the Australia Post decision to terminate the economy international air mail option when sending abroad. According to the article, this will result in an increase of over 20% to send a book abroad, something that happens much more frequently selling down under than in the US, with many books going to the UK.

Without an online presence Borders will stagnate

Looking at the bookselling industry from a growth (shareholder) perspective, you have to look online. Brick and mortar booksales simply do not have strong growth potential, even for a chain like Borders. Not only can online sales help increase gross sales, but it also complements and strengthens a company's brick and mortar brand.

I was sipping my coffee and reading the Times and was intrigued by an interview with new Borders CEO George L Jones.

Borders now (finally) has expanded its online sales beyond its partnership site located at Amazon (something we advocated previously). This is a good start, but their site is very basic and isn't something I'd be confident was strengthening my brand, if I were Mr. Jones. It is also something not even mentioned in the interview. In fact, according to the article, "In considering how the company could compete with its chief rival, Barnes & Noble, as well as with online retailers, Mr. Jones said the solution was not to do the same things as the others." There is no doubt that differentiation will be key to a successful tenure for Mr. Jones, but I certainly hope this is not meant to imply a continued decreased in emphasis for his online site.

Of course, as an independent online seller, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to advocate for a stronger online business for Borders. Given their nascent foray into the online bookselling world, they are light years away from offering used/3rd party sales on their site. That isn't to say it couldn't be an immediate score for the bookselling giant.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Amazon shipping changes updated

Amazon wisely updated their reimbursement for international shipments on books, giving sellers an additional $0.19 making for a net decrease for sellers of $0.17 as opposed to $0.36 as previously stated (original post).

Selling books at your own site

In today's Shelf Awareness, there is a great column about keeping customers coming back to your website store. This article pays particular attention to an often neglected part of independent bookstore websites - selling books. My favorite part of this piece is how the author reminds us of a time when "the notion of a bookshop that went to where the readers were wasn't revolutionary. Traveling salesmen of all descriptions plied their trades from house to house, farm to farm."

Help Gulf Coast Libraries

We all saw what a terrible disaster Hurricane Katrina was, but just as bad as the week following the disaster are the years of putting the pieces back together. One of the many small stories within the story, is the devastation of Gulf Coast library collections. Now thanks to the website Dewey Donation System, which by the way earns today's award for coolest name, you can easily connect with some of these libraries and help ease the pain. Remember to buy from third party sellers!

Amazon to terminate order notification emails

It seems like my Amazon feed is working overdrive with the amount of changes we've seen recently. The most recent is a notification that the company will terminate the "Sold, Ship Now" emails currently send to sellers. They will be replaced with a new desktop application for order notification.

"We recognize that changing the content of the “Sold, ship now” e-mails might require an adjustment for some sellers. We hope that by providing you with advance notice of this change and early access to the new application, you will have plenty of time to identify and make any needed changes to your business processes to support these new features."

Coming literally hours after the resolution of an "unplanned event" that caused a delay in "Sold, Ship Now" emails from begin sent (coincidence?), this change is a pretty big deal. I can already hear the third party software developers touting their new program that will send you emails a la the current system.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Abebooks in the Toronto Star

Abebooks' 10-year birthday has generated another nice little article in a Canadian major daily. Check out the feature from the Toronto Star.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Book sales trends

The Association of American Publishers has posted their update of book sales for May 2006. Adult paperbacks and children's hardcover were very strong performers. Of note, religion book sales, once the strongest genre, dropped over twenty percent year to year. (See Press Release)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Amazon shipping reimbursement changes

The seller community is abuzz about the imminent shipping reimbursement changes at Amazon. The changes are below and speak for themselves. The one thing that is clear is that Amazon is hoping to push sellers away from offering expedited and international listings. This may be a move to boost it's own listings for this type of consumer, or more likely, its Amazon Prime base.

Regular shipping ($2.29, old $2.26, +0.03)
Expedited shipping ($4.79, old $5.05, -0.26)
International shipping ($8.59, old $8.95, -0.36)

Let's say you do not ship internationally, but do ship expedited. Take a look back at your sales if 1 in 10 sales or less is expedited, then you will actually gain from this change.

Let's say you offer both expedited and international. This is trickier hypothetically, because the offer a different net change. Let's assume an average of -0.31. In this case if 1 in 12 sales or less is expedited or international, then you will gain.

I am not sure how many people actually fail into this category, but it seems like a tough benchmark to hit. I move about 1 in 7 expedited or international. Maybe Amazon will get many of us to move away from these two "optional" shipping offerings.
I think everyone is kind of floored that Amazon is trying to make things even more confusing in this regard. On the face of it, it seems like sellers are getting a raw deal .... and we may be (actually it will probably end up being the consumer, like the Thinking Mother).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Just the facts: book industry

Know your industry. Check out this great online fact sheet on the book industry. This page includes domestic and international statistics. While it is surprising that this page is catching some web buzz this week (the stats are kinda old), the jist of the data is still immensely useful.

Alibris not happy with the snub

When a column in a modest sized regional newspaper (cir. 105,782) snubbed neighbor Alibris when discussing online book buying, the Emeryville, CA based company didn't want to let it slide. In fact, they decided to respond and get their own ink - is this a new PR strategy... brute force marketing? View the article and the second reader response.

Ebay a little too afraid of Google Checkout...?

This week eBay made it official: Google checkout will not be an acceptable method of payment for eBay auctions. I am not altogether surprised at this as an initial response - Right now they don't need Google. By immediately opening themselves up to the system, they only serve to debase their own business, legitimize Google's new endeavor, and show a real fear that Checkout is the next big thing. If Google Checkout emerges as a strong player in the online payment market, then perhaps eBay will need to make concessions, but let's face it few, if any, people are not purchasing on eBay because the seller cannot accept their Google Checkout account. Get the details: Read more.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Biblio re-launched Biblion

The previously discussed redeployment of Biblion with Biblio integration is now live. Press release.

See: A Strong Move for Biblio and Biblio close to relaunching Biblion.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Biblio improves SEO

A recent press release from Biblio* and Intrapromote states

"The number of 'www.biblio.com' appearances on page 1 at Google, MSN, and Yahoo have more than doubled after optimization," says Doug Ausbury, of Intrapromote. "Breaking that down even further, the number of appearances on pages 1 and 2 at these same search engines have increased 125% after optimization, and the number of appearances on pages 1, 2, and 3 at Google, MSN, and Yahoo have increased 91% after optimization."

More good news from Biblio, still considered by this blogger to be the web's most seller-friendly venue. We've seen a lot of good news direct from Biblio in the first half of 2006, but not a lot of feedback from sellers saying their sales have really improved. If you've seen a marked increase, let me know.

* Affiliate disclosure: This blog is supported by affiliate commissions at Biblio. This program is run through an independent third party.

Garage sales still popular in electronic era

An interesting article notes that garage remain "stylish" despite the growing popularity of Craigslist and other online mediums. Many online booksellers remain committed to garage sales as a source of inventory, especially with the increasingly crowded and "vulturistic" environment at book sales these days. Garage sales are so incredibly time consuming that you really have to be an expert at finding quality books and sales to make it add up. Some, I know, love garage sales themselves and feel like they can chalk that time up as "hobby" or "entertainment" time as opposed to a business expense. In any event, the continued supply of garage sales is good news for online booksellers who are always scrambling for new inventory.