From the Editor

by Craig Stark

#65, 27 March 2006

Whew. I didn't know my mailbox could hold so many emails. Response to last week's article on eBay stores was, in a word, brisk. Many BookThink readers report that they are going to take a whack at this, and I'm looking forward to getting updates from you. A few questions came up, however, and I'd like to clarify what I said - or didn't say. I didn't say that a no-frills store (no photographs, no textual detail, etc.) is the only approach that makes sense. I'm still committed to running auctions, also to my Store #1, which will carry an inventory marketed with upgraded presentations, because it still makes sense to. Some items necessarily require this to maximize final values. Issue #11 of 50/50, which was delivered several days ago, underscores this: It remains entirely possible to purchase some relatively common titles on FPVs and eBay and resell them on eBay (with good presentations) for significant profit.

Also, some of you expressed concern about dumping thousands of listings into a store with no guarantees of success. I do understand. At $.02 a pop, there's no question that you'd be risking $50, $100 or more your first month - despite the $15.95 fee waiver. Obviously, I can't make this kind of decision for anybody, and it would be foolish to try. All situations are different, and all of us have different things at risk. The only thing I can do is show you how it worked out for me - by the way, I made my listings fees back the first day my store was open - and forward what I've heard from other booksellers who've succeeded as well. And don't forget - the monthly store subscription and listing fees don't include final value fees. You will still be charged a commission on every sale, though it's significantly lower than what prevails on major fixed-price venues.

I'd also like to emphasize that inventory quality is what will ultimately determine your success - well, that and your dogged persistence to continue to add to it (and cull non-performing books). If you've experienced dismal sales on fixed-price venues due to inventory issues, things may not get much better on eBay. Even if you have some quality items and score an early success with a store, it's still crucial that you aggressively add additional books on a regular basis. Bad books are bad books no matter where you put them.

Now - today's newsletter. Media Editor Catherine Petruccione is here with an update on her website bookstore. You may recall a two-part article she wrote for BookThink last year that detailed her experiences and offered numerous helpful suggestions. Today she's back to give you some results, also to offer a few more suggestions - and I'll let her tell you if it's been a success or not.

You may also recall that Cathy hooked up with Chrislands - a service that builds online bookstores. I'm pleased to introduce Chrislands as a new BookThink sponsor. For those contemplating building a website, there are numerous choices for getting it done, but Chrislands has several important advantages over its competitors: They specialize in book websites, they facilitate the building and operational process so that virtually anybody can do this not matter what their level of technical know-how, their fees are surprisingly reasonable, and customer service is exceptional. Do check them out. There are several banners on BookThink that will take you there, and here's a link.

Finally, we caught another live one for this month's Bookseller Profile - this time an entire bookselling family headed by Brian and Anita Ashland. Brian and Anita found a nifty solution for home schooling their four girls and making money along the way - none other than bookselling, of course. For those of you who haven't done a profile yet, I strongly suggest that you read the last paragraph in Cathy's article for inspiration. As always, write me at and a template will be forwarded. Oh - one more thing. Anita suggested that me, of all people, should do a profile as well, and all along I thought BookThink WAS my profile. Well, I understand her point to some extent, and I may just surprise you one of these months - after I finish that dang Lincoln article!

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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