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As prices on most common books have plunged, their ignorance has now come into full view, and "slower," more knowledgeable booksellers are passing them by. Frankly, I think many of these hares are in denial. They refuse to acknowledge the fact that they've learned next to nothing about books as books because they've focused almost exclusively on the process of selling them. For the most part they don't know why some books sell for a good price and some don't. What the best ones are. Where to find them. Heck, how to spot them once you put yourself under the roof that houses them. Nor do they seem to appreciate that this knowledge constantly changes. Knowledge isn't easy stuff, and it's certainly not the stuff of instinct. It comes only at a price.

I think it's human nature to assume that you know what you're doing when things are going well and, conversely, to blame external, inexorable factors (too many books, too few buyers) when things start going south. Lately, I've been hearing "reasons" other than market glut postulated as well - without exception, of course, based on phenomena that we can do absolutely nothing about. On the surface, I must admit, some of them are almost irresistibly plausible. Example: WWII books and ephemera don't do as well as they once did because so many collectors (i.e., WWII veterans) have reached an age where they are dying off in large numbers. This, in turn, simultaneously creates a diminished demand and, because their estates are being sold off as well, a glut of books and ephemera. Also, there's this exacerbating factor: so much near definitive WWII scholarship has been published in the last 10 or 20 years that these newer books have more or less trumped or obsolesced the content of older titles.

Similar things are being said about other once overheated niches.

Discouraged? Why? Even if this theory is true - personally, I think it's a pack of half truths - so what. If WWII memorabilia is cooling off, move. Go somewhere hot. Don't know where that is? Then where are we? Back to the original point: you can't win the race without book knowledge. Look, if you've had success in the past and find yourself struggling now, it ain't the market. It's you. How do I know this? Because not everybody is struggling. If you read book forums, I think it's too damn easy to get the wrong idea about your prospects because there's so much lamentation now about how good things used to be - and can never be again. But keep in mind that these prophets of doom are made up entirely of the sellers who are struggling. Successful sellers have nothing to complain about. They're selling books and, consequently, don't have time to post long, agonizingly speculative notes about their demise.

Ok. Here's the deal we have for you: if you like bookselling, if you want to stay with it, make some money at it, stay with us. Every week (sometimes more often), we add content to the BookThink website or distribute it via newsletters (e.g., the Gold Edition and 50/50). Though some of this content is only marginally related to bookselling as such, most of it is proven bookselling knowledge. As the market changes, so changes the content. If it isn't useful to you one week, the next week it might be, and so on until we hit your bull's eye. And with so many arrows flying, week after week, I guarantee that targets will be hit.

So, if you've spent your last ounce of bookselling energy on the race to the bottom, stop, pause to get your breath, and join us in the race to the top. Oh - and one last thing: no shoes, no service!

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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