Update Announcements

by Craig Stark

#79, 16 October 2006

BookThink's Top 10 on eBay is up first today - the best and brightest for August 2006. What's unusual about this list is that three auctions were "won" by buyers who are no longer registered users. At these price levels it can't be fun for sellers to think they've scored thousands on auctions only to discover that they've come up empty handed and must suffer the further inconvenience of recovering fees. Asterisks designate these items, and of course note that final values have not been validated. Also note that item numbers are available for all 20 auctions by subscribing to BookThink's free Top 10 on eBay Item Numbers newsletter. Write me at editor@bookthink.com to subscribe.

It seems that every time we publish one of BookThink's Bookseller Profiles one or two pieces of advice stand out in bold relief. Bookseller Judy Lanskey, who submitted today's profile, suggests buying at least part of your inventory online, and, while this doesn't in itself leap off the page, consider that Judy has been a bookseller for only 18 months. Booksellers new to the business, I've noticed, are often reluctant to embrace the strategy of online inventory acquisition, dismissing it too risky or requiring too much experience or knowledge or savvy - or something. The truth is that in many cases it can be a breakthrough factor in elevating a bookseller from part-time to full-time status, and many of the techniques for doing it are relatively easy to learn.

Ironically, one of the reasons online inventory buying works so well for some of us is that there's a widespread misconception that book scouts have become extinct - and with this an assumption that, no matter how books are marketed online, they'll more or less bring they prices they should bring. How many traditional (or Old School) booksellers have you heard bemoan the fact that book scouts no longer drop inventory in their laps but, because it's so easy to do, now sell online? I've heard this more times than I can count - but don't believe it for a minute. Book scouts haven't stopped locating inventory for us; they've simply changed the venue they sell it in. There's no escaping this: It's the nature of the book scout to flip. Most don't have the patience, let alone the knowledge, to be bothered with the complexities of maximizing profit. To this day, most are still delighted to grab the fast nickel at the expense of the slow dime. And new book scouts are coming on board continuously. True, they may be cloaked to some extent, but one of the reasons I wrote the Gold Edition series on how to buy inventory online was to suggest how to unmask them. Interested? It's all here.

Note to Gold Edition subscribers: Look for issue #32 this week. The topic is photobooks - and by this I mean books comprised primarily of photographs taken by one and only one photographer. Photobooks may also contain biographical and/or explanatory text (and, perhaps, a renegade photograph or two by other photographers), but primarily they are a tribute to a discrete photographer. I've made a lot of money on photobooks over the years, and I must tell you that this is one of the easier niches to make money in. Here's why: Close your eyes and toss a brick into a room full of photobooks, and chances are you'll hit something of value - and there's a pretty good chance you'll hit something of significant value. Moreover, photobooks are one of the few niches at least partially comprised of books that increase in value over time. Find out why in this month's Gold Edition. New subscribers can join the party here.

Finally, be sure to read the Alibris announcement at the end of the newsletter, especially if you're a UK subscriber.

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