From the Editor

by Craig Stark

#14, 15 March 2004

To win at bookselling you have to put yourself in a position to win. Seems obvious, doesn't it? Well, yes, but sometimes the most obvious keys to success are things we overlook. How many of you are overlooking this one?

If there's a good book for sale at point A and you're at point B, you're not in a position to win. If you get to point A late and the book is sold, you're still not in a position to win because the book is no longer there. But, how do you know - how can you know - that there's a good book there in the first place? Usually, you don't, can't, but how many times have you not gone to a sale when you easily could have? Talked yourself out of it on the basis of incomplete or irrelevant information? Worse, talked yourself out of it because you didn't want to face something unpleasant, say, a crowd at an FOL sale?

Maybe you've had bad luck at estate sales put on by a particular vendor, bad luck in certain neighborhoods, bad luck at FOL sales or church sales, bad luck on certain days or at certain times, and so on. All of these experiences can discourage you from putting yourself in a position to win. Winners know something about luck, however. It changes. And unless there's something obviously wrong with a situation - for example, you know that a vendor keeps the best stuff and sells only the junk - you have every reason to expect your luck to change.

But sometimes position means something other than your physical location. For example, you get to point A on time but, because you don't put yourself in a position to see the book, you're still not in a position to win. What does seeing mean? Two things. One, it means having the knowledge necessary to know that a given book has value. Two, it also means being able to look at it in such a way that you make the necessary connection with that knowledge.

Sight gained through knowledge is something we talk about often at BookThink (and will continue to), but we haven't talked much about the other kind of sight, the kind that's done with your eyes. In some cases, this might not be terribly important. If you're the only one at a garage sale, you can relax. You've got time to look, and it's easy to see what you need to see because there's no pressure. It may not be so easy to see clearly at a crowded FOL sale, where every moment counts. Is there anything that can be done to improve your sight in these cases? Yes, there most certainly is, and this is the focus of today's feature article, "The Stillness of Trout: How to Shop at FOL sales."

As promised, BookThink's Premium Content begins today with "A Matter of Pride: What's Hot and What's Not in Greek Books." This is a companion article to "Bookselling in Greek: How to Paddle the Competition," which appeared in the March 1 BookThinker, and is accessible only by email subscription.

NOTE: Gold Edition replaced regular Premium Content on August 2, 2004. Learn how to subscribe.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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