#63, 1627 February 2006

Profile of Gail Rodgers

WHEN I FELL IN LOVE: with books that is! I learned to read in the first grade with great difficulty but I had a wonderful teacher and mother who helped me. Only later did we learn that my problem was dyslexia - still a struggle. But learn to read I did! I made daily trips to the local library, checking out several books and returning the next day for more. When I heard about the Library of Congress, I told my mother I wanted to go live there with all the books in the world. To me, there was no better place. I was so in love with reading that my mother threatened to revoke my library privileges when my grades didn't meet her expectations. From that point on I made straight A's! I worked part time in the different school libraries from the eighth grade through college. And when attending nursing school years later, I again worked in the library. I am comfortable only when surrounded by books.

NAME OF BUSINESS: Moonwishes Sewing and Craft Store

LOCATION: North East, PA

WEBSITE (if any): www.MoonwishesStore.com (my eBay store), http://sipandsew.blogspot.com/. When I have time, I write book reviews on the newest machine embroidery and quilting books and also use the blog to promote my eBay store



BOOKSELLING VENUES USED (in order of importance): My husband and I started listing on half.com and then added Amazon. While I was recovering from knee replacement, my husband discovered Alibris and started listing there. We also occasionally ran auctions on eBay. About two years ago, we opened our eBay store. The first couple months' sales barely paid store fees. When eBay announced increased store fees last year, I had to think long and hard about keeping the barely functioning store open. Finally, I decided to put more work and stock into it. Over the past year, it has come to be our major selling venue and in January 2006, it accounted for more than half our sales income. Currently the half.com account is on vacation while I decide if the infrequent sales are worth the bother. Our major selling venues are eBay and Amazon.

SIZE OF INVENTORY: We have little over 900 books on Amazon. In our eBay store, we have several hundred books, along with around 2000 sewing and craft patterns - and we are currently adding another 3000 sewing patterns.

SPECIALTIES: Our goal is to move into sewing-related items and books, as well as to maintain a high inventory of large print books. This is partially because many on both sides of our family have eye problems and need large print to read. We have had a great deal on photography books each summer, so we sell a lot in that category.

WHY I SELL BOOKS: As many have done in the past few years, I fell into bookselling accidentally. On February 14, 2002, I married the most wonderful man in the world. We had many plans and dreams for what we wanted to do. Three weeks later I was in the hospital and my world changed forever. After months of testing, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, along with other problems. During the initial months, I thought I was going to die. I couldn't stand up for more than two or three minutes at a time. Being practical, I decided to get rid of my books. I remembered selling a couple of books on half.com a year or two earlier. With the little energy I had, I started listing my sewing books on there, and they started selling! Just the excitement of wondering if I had a sale helped me drag myself out of bed several times a day to check.

Book selling became my therapy. As the illness stabilized, I realized I wasn't going to die. That's when I started doing more listing and discovered Amazon. Summer came and if I felt up to it, I went to yard sales with hubby and bought books for resale. I remember my first FOL sale. Knowing little about selling books, we went and bought every like-new book we could find, only to learn later that most were BCE with no value! But we kept persevering and eventually had a viable small book selling business. I still consider it my therapy more than a moneymaking opportunity. My rheumatoid arthritis is relentless. It leaves me with sitting on the couch most of the day and doing my online activities on a laptop.

My scouting area is about five square miles. That is the distance I can drive and do searches on my own. So far, I haven't learned to buy books off eBay and resell them for profit. In our general area, there are few readers of quality books. Heavy books are difficult for me to handle, so I moved our business into a different direction - mostly sewing patterns and needlework related books. Because patterns are small and light, they take up much less space than books. We can have many in inventory, and I can handle them without pain. My husband is the brawn behind our operation, and I am the chatty one that does the research and customer contacts.

ADVICE FOR NEW BOOKSELLERS: 1. Start good bookkeeping from day one! You may think that you are only going to sell a few books, but then the bug will hit you. Keeping track of numbers helps guide your business decisions, plus they are a big help come April 15!

2. Aim high. Go for the gusto, don't let yourself get trapped into selling books that aren't worth the space they clutter and the emotional energy they suck from you.

3. Sell what you enjoy! Consider your current hobbies or favorite reads and figure out how to make a profit from them. Then you won't be able to tell if you are playing or working - that truly makes life fun.

BEST BOOKSELLING TIP: If I can't pronounce the name of the book or remember its title because of all the long words and if it's published by John Wiley, it's usually a VERY worthwhile book for resale.

FAVORITE AUTHOR(S): Laura Ingalls Wilder, John Dunning, Ridley Pearson, Sue Grafton, Dean Koontz, David Balducci, I could go on and on and on ...

FAVORITE QUOTE: "Get busy living or get busy dying," from The Shawshank Redemption. I choose to get busy living - and I am having a ball!

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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