#65, 27 February 2006

Profile of Ashland Book Company


NAME: Brian & Anita Ashland

NAME OF BUSINESS: Ashland Book Company

LOCATION: Madison, Wisconsin

WEBSITE (if any): Ashland Book Company and our blog.



BOOKSELLING VENUES USED (in order of importance): Amazon, Alibris, Abebooks, eBay, Biblio, Valore Books and our website

SIZE OF INVENTORY: 5300 books listed, a couple thousand more in storage

SPECIALTIES: Children's books, poetry, religious books, children's Bibles, esoteric non-fiction

WHY I SELL BOOKS: We have four daughters, ages 2-13, and needed a way to earn more income without spending more time away from home. We love books and online bookselling is kid-friendly. At the library sales and thrift shops the children happily park themselves near the children's section while Brian and I look for inventory - well, most of the time. It isn't unheard of for one of us to have to carry a toddler in one arm while using the other arm to look through books. The girls also guard our bags and boxes of books for us while we're at the sales and sometimes find valuable books on their own. Of course, they are usually unwilling to surrender those books to our inventory, so we have to be patient and wait until they've read the book and forgotten about it. We home school, and I've encouraged our oldest daughter to start thinking about selling children's books on her own as part of her "curriculum." For more about why we sell books you can view our blog entry on the topic.

ADVICE FOR NEW BOOKSELLERS: As important as it is to list books regularly, take time out to refuel so that you don't burn out and feel like you are just a listing machine. Read books and blogs about bookselling. Read BookThink newsletters. It will energize you. Also, make the effort to make transactions more personal by sending thank you e-mails to each customer.

BEST BOOKSELLING TIP: A friend recommended that we add the line "thank you for supporting our home business" to each listing. She had just purchased a used book from Amazon and chose that particular copy because the listing had a line that said something similar. Since then we've received comments from customers saying that they chose our book because they like supporting home businesses.

FAVORITE AUTHOR(S): Ogden Nash, Elizabeth Goudge, Flannery O'Connor, Lewis Carroll and J.K. Rowling

FAVORITE QUOTE: One of Anita's favorite Flannery O'Connor quotes: "There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."

Brian's favorite quote from his favorite children's book, Alice in Wonderland:

"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'

"'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

"'The question is, said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'"

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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