Update Announcements

by Craig Stark

#114, 18 February 2008

Two longtime and valued contributors are here today - Tim Doyle and Steve Weber.

Tim discusses an important concept - exceptions to the rule. There are few rules in bookselling that don't have exceptions, and yes, there are even exceptions to the rule that Reader's Digest Condensed Books are worthless. Today, in Part I of a 3-part series, Tim investigates the Science Fiction Book Club, offers a search methodology for identifying more valuable SFBC titles, and lists specific SFBC omnibus editions that are worth grabbing.

Steve's topic is, shall we say, less cheerful - the Amazon catalog. If you're an Amazon Marketplace seller, you're doubtless aware of the horrific cataloguing issues plaguing this venue. Early last year Steve discussed the problem here.

Meanwhile, Amazon has made attempts at cleaning things up, but not unexpectedly, it hasn't been smooth sailing. Steve explains why and what you can do about it.

Finally, if you travel outside the United States, you can now shop for books with MediaScouter's newly-launched international service. You'll have full access to Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr - and Amazon.com as well. For those of you experienced in bookselling arbitrage, you know that many opportunities exist for purchasing books in foreign countries and reselling them for profit at home. If you live in France or Germany, there's more good news: MediaScouter is presently translating pages into French and German, and you'll soon be able to scan with the best of them. (Note that some of these pages are already available.) We'll announce this as soon as it becomes available. For more information, see MediaScouter.com.

Editor's Addendum: If you haven't seen Alibris' February newsletter yet, it seems they've taken a bizarre stance on books shipped to their warehouse that could only be sustained on ... Mars? Well, they left out the "A." MRS (Merchandise Return Service) labels may not, they assert, be accompanied by anything else, which in effect prevents you from purchasing Delivery Confirmation or Insurance. Some booksellers are speculating that this policy prevents Alibris from having to refund sellers for books that are lost at the Sparks warehouse. News Editor Karin Bergsagel explains this galactic phenomenon in detail.

Editor's Addendum to the Addendum: Shortly after Karin submitted her article (which originally appeared in BookThink's NewsBlog on February 14), Alibris retracted its policy, and Karin's comments on this appear at the end of her article today.

Yet Another Editor’s Addendum: If you’re a ScoutPal subscriber, you likely had some scouting problems last week – slow retrieval, service interruptions, no service at all, etc. This was an Amazon issue, and I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that, if you use a field lookup service other than ScoutPal and had no problems at all, there’s a good reason: The ScoutPal subscriber base, because of its greater size, makes significantly more demands on the Amazon system than other services and is therefore the first (sometimes the only) service to be affected during this type of situation. In any case, Dave Anderson reports that things are back to normal now.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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