From The Editor

by Craig Stark

#124, 30 June 2008

Here's a question I haven't asked lately: How are sales? If they're good, get back to work. You have better things to do. On the other hand, if they're slow, hang around and let's talk about it - and see what, if anything, we can do. Maybe we can attribute it to the season. Then you'll feel better. It's June, after all. In this case, the solution is simply to survive until August. Easy. But be honest: Isn't there a lingering doubt that it could be something else? That venues that once produced for you, perhaps because of seller-unfriendly changes they've made recently, no longer deliver buyers in the numbers they once did? In any season?

It seems that booksellers are forever waiting for the arrival of the next "eBay" - a venue that won't muck things up with changes every other day, punish us with high fees and harsh policies, and yet at the same time offer real opportunities. eBay wannabes almost always get half of it right: They have no trouble delivering attractive terms to sellers. But what they have a world of trouble doing is delivering buyers. I could list dozens of them that have come and gone, some of them dedicated bookselling venues. Remember Collector's Book Market? Almost without exception the wannabe legacy is that some (thankfully not too many) booksellers wasted a lot of time listing books that never sold.

Still, you have to believe that somehow, sometime, somewhere, somebody will come up with something that will work - or at least start to work, and once it starts to work, momentum will build. If this happens, the catalyst will be disenchantment, of course. Not just the garden variety grumbling that inevitably ensues when, say, fees are raised, but a widespread realization that a once productive venue has ceased to be viable and, just as importantly, comparable venues no longer present attractive alternatives. We may be close to this right now - in fact, the new eBay might already be in place, perhaps showing first signs of life.

This brings me to Reesa Turner, a new BookThink contributor. In the coming months Reesa will be examining alternate venues, scouting ahead, as it were, for new frontiers in bookselling. If she finds something worth trying - and she may already have found something - you'll be given the benefit of her pioneering efforts. Today she introduces herself, explains what motivates her, and gives us a peek into next week's article on a relatively new venue that appears to have some potential - eCrater.

A final reminder on our complete back issues package sale: Purchase all Gold Edition and 50/50 back issues for the deeply discounted price of $99.99. This sale ends Sunday, July 6 - so you have exactly one week left. And here's something to consider: We don't often publicize this, but if you've purchased back issues in the past and are interested in acquiring the issues you don't have, we'll credit all previous purchases toward the back issues package at the present sales price. Simply email me at and we'll go from there.

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