#43, 16 April 2005

Profile of Julia Wilkinson

Name: Julia Wilkinson

Name of Business: Julia's Finds

Location: In my house, on shelves and in as many nooks and crannies as I can find.

Website (if any): My eBay Store
My free newsletter site, Yard Salers and eBayers

(The AOL Memorabilia site was my first web site project. It showcases various items I collected from my years as a producer at America Online, 1988 to 1997 ... yes, practically from before Al Gore invented the Internet.)

Number of years in business: About six selling online. I've been more focused on books in the last 2-3 years.

Part time or full time: Part time, or as much time as I can squeeze in when I'm not writing books myself!

Bookselling venues used (in order of importance): Amazon, eBay. I've tinkered with Alibris and may branch out more, but I get pretty good results with these two. Lately, I'm preferring Amazon because the listing process is so quick and easy, and my books have been selling well there.

Size of Inventory: Hundreds of books, as many as I can fit in the house, filling all available bookshelves, and, now that it seems to be accepted in the world of certain decorators, artfully stacked on the floor.

Specialties: In terms of recent books, I gravitate to textbooks and travel. In general, although I personally like reading fiction, I look more for nonfiction to resell. I'm drawn to books about art, history and how-to, as well as old classics. I also like to go to book signings when I can, in the hopes that I can create tomorrow's collectible today. I've gotten books signed by Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Shales, Caspar Weinberger, Diana McLellan, Tucker Carlson, and several others at the annual National Press Club author night. (Signed books also make great gifts).

Why I sell books: Books have always been a big part of my life. My family had a lot of books around when I was growing up, and because most of my grandparents died before I was born, their books seemed like one of the best ways of connecting to them. We had an old 1911 set of Encyclopaedia Britannica that was in my father's family, featuring feather-light pages and wonderful illustrations, and on my mother's side were many large art books (my mother's mother was a fashion illustrator in New York City during the roaring '20s). One of the books I remember looking through again and again was an old Life atlas. It shows what Washington, D.C. looked like before the beltway was built. I keep it next to my bed, and I still use it to look up towns I come across in novels and other books I read.

As a writer myself, I have an understandable appreciation for everything that goes into the making of a book and the emotional connection we can have to them.

I also sell books both to save money for my buyers and of course to make money myself. In some cases, buyers are looking for discounts; in others, they are collectors or researchers, and money is not an object.

Finally, I like selling books because it reminds me how many interesting things there are out there in the world, and because I learn a lot as I go along. It's like treasure hunting. You never know what you'll find.

Advice for new booksellers: Go with your hunches ... informed hunches are better, but if it only costs you fifty cents to take chance on a book that could ultimately pay off many times that, go for it. Keep reading and learning about the business (BookThink is a great place to start!).

Best bookselling tip(s): Seek out new book source venues constantly, and regularly visit the ones that have been good to you. Things turn over constantly. Adjust as needed. For example, I recently started haunting a funky little thrift shop that seems to be undiscovered by many book scouts. I found an old Catcher in the Rye there for about a dollar. Another thrift store in my area, on the other hand, seems to provide fewer and fewer valuable finds. I have the feeling some cherry-picking is going on, so I don't waste my time going there as often as I used to.

Yard sales can be good with the right factors. Obviously, going early helps a lot. Unadvertised sales will also often pay off more than the others, and I've found craigslist to be a good source for sales not advertised in newspapers or other venues.

Sometimes, in my area, just driving around on Saturday mornings and looking for signs is the best way of finding hidden little gems.

At estate sales, gravitate to the basement if there is one. There are often many books down there, and people don't tend to go there first.

Sometimes there will be interesting ephemera inside books, too.

Be on your toes when looking for good books, but do be polite at sales, and try not to let those who are not get to you.

When you travel, try to stop into thrift shops or even yard sales when possible (and if the time and patience of your family or other companions allows). You never know what you might find.

And that leads me to ...

Favorite finds: An "old" paperback edition of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with "Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture" on the cover, bought for a buck at a yard sale, sold for $43; the aforementioned Catcher in the Rye; in the funky thrift shop; a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that I discovered later had been signed by Maya Angelou.

Favorite Authors(s): Gosh, there are so many. In terms of current fiction, I like Joanna Trollope and Elizabeth Buchan. Older stuff ... I like Vladimir Nabokov and Ernest Hemingway. I'm in a book club, so it keeps me open to all genres and different authors. We read a lot of stuff that's on the bestseller lists, but we dip back into the classics as well. We recently read Train, by Pete Dexter, which is a book I don't think I would have discovered on my own.

Favorite quote: That's another tough one. Once again I'd like to go with more than one:

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." - Winston Churchill

"There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love." - Christopher Morley


Julia Wilkinson is the author of

eBay: Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks (Wiley, 2004)

What $ells on eBay for What

My Life at AOL (Authorhouse, 2001)

and Best Bang for Your Book (Booklocker.com, 2003).

She also publishes the free newsletter, Yard Salers and eBayers.

Her eBay blog, "bidbits"

< to previous 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

Enter Book Title or ISBN

Powered by FetchBook.Info
New & Used Books