<<< Continued from previous page

At the low end of the dollar spectrum are the Readers. These include a delightful woman I like to call Aunt Tillie ("Oh! I had this very same book when I was a little girl! I'll bet my niece/nephew/grandchild would love it just like I did ..."), who's always good for a $10 or $20 impulse buy - but she's also more of a bookstore phenomenon, and not as common on the internet. Researchers who buy books for the facts they contain are Readers.

In the middle are Endpoint Collectors and Dealers - lumped together for our purposes, because on the internet they compete against each other. Researchers who buy scarce and valuable books for the more esoteric facts or lost arts they contain (late 17th century hand-tinted plates of Mayan costumery, for example) are also Collectors. (And of course, in the stratosphere of the book world you've got collectors of and dealers in such things as Incunables, the odd Isaac Newton ALS, the Signers, or Albrecht Dürer's excursions into the "meta" of books. You know - the expensive stuff. For this discussion they are irrelevant - they would only read this and smile. (At least one of them probably is.)

One can base one's career on the ephemeral - in fact, most booksellers do - following the trends and searching out the latest hot books. But while the result of that may be profitable, that profit will be constant over the years - it will not lead to advancement through the ranks. Hot books will never change. They will always sneak up on us as they break the all-important barrier of their original cover price, and recede back into obscurity after cresting at a hundred, a few hundred, or in some rare cases even a thousand dollars. If you sell too many hot books to your long-term customers, you will lose those customers. How much repeat business do you have today, from those you sold a copy of The Da Vinci Code to a year ago? What did you sell it for? What's it worth today? How do those who bought it from you feel about that?

Not that there's anything wrong with twisting the knife when you happen to run across one of those "hot" books. But as far as the internet is concerned, you should keep a separate selling account just for things like that - and if you have a B&M storefront, you might want to keep them out of it altogether.

The smart and long-term bookseller will develop a symbiotic relationship with her core customers. As they advance in their collecting interests, she will advance with them. Additionally, as their knowledge in their field increases, she will do her best to keep up. (That's a losing battle of course, so don't feel bad about it - serious collectors almost always know more about their area of interest than their dealers.)

And so that would be the third of the revelations I have promised for today:

The Golden Customer is Your Own.

OK. So now we have a rough idea of where to get these things we sell, and a fair idea of who we're going to sell them to. But you will never do either of those things well - not buying or selling - unless you understand why books are valuable.

Did I hear somebody in the back mumble something about supply and demand? Loser ...

If you liked this article, Digg it!

< to previous article                 to next article >

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

| Forum | Store | Publications | BookLinks | BookSearch | BookTopics | Archives | Advertise | AboutUs | ContactUs | Search Site | Site Map | Google Site Map

Store - Specials | BookHunt | BookShelf | Gold Edition & BookThink's Quarterly Market Report | DomainsForSale | BookThinker newsletter - free

Copyright 2003-2011 by BookThink LLC


Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment