by Craig Stark

#67, 24 April 2006

BookThink is Growing, Growing, Growing

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I wish I could say that we knew what we were doing when we launched BookThink on September 1, 2003. Given the persistent growth we've experienced since then, I suppose I could get away with saying it too. Only it wouldn't be true. We frankly had no idea that this would work, only a belief in the central vision that informed it, not to mention a decision to grow the website organically, layer by layer, from the seed of that vision.

Needless to say, we've been more than pleasantly surprised at the result. On September 1, 2003, our home page sported exactly one solitary ad - and that was a free trial ad we offered a vendor with the perhaps fatuous hope that it would become a paying ad in time. And it didn't! Our AboutUs page featured a whopping two personages - Pam and yours truly - and yes, we were doing ALL the work, though thankfully Tim soon followed. A glance at the home page now shows how dramatically times have changed, ad-wise, and our AboutUs page now features nine heads (with a tenth soon to be added). Pam recently informed me that there are presently over 500 distinct pages on BookThink, and we've amassed a rich archive of articles (not to mention thousands of forum notes), many of which were contributed by booksellers who were graciously willing to work for nothing or a small stipend. (By the way, I'm sure that any one of our monthly columnists - who are still working for small stipends, by the way - would be thrilled to get a note of thanks from you. They deserve it.)

As a personal matter, BookThink's growth has impacted me hugely, as it has Pam. There was a time when I spent almost all of my time bookselling. Since BookThink's launch, bookselling time has been cut and cut again until now it makes up only half of what I do. To date, I've been able to offset this by deriving some income from the website and by forever seeking more efficient methods to sell books. Still, some things are moving toward critical mass, and it's only a matter of time before something gives. This article is a plea for help in two specific areas that are making bigger and bigger demands on our time.

Forum Moderator

I treasure our forum. I treasure the booksellers who contribute to it. And it's now a treasure trove of valuable bookselling information. I do my damnedest (and so does Pam) to read every note that's posted and be watchful for inappropriate comments, etc. Also, I have personally deleted 100s of primarily Russian "members" who have registered with the intention of marketing unsavory products and services. (Lately, it seems the Romanians are on a similar mission.) In any case, forum activity has advanced to a level that makes it difficult for me to handle with the thoroughness I would prefer. More than anything else, I want to preserve the safe environment we've built together. I've lost count of the number of booksellers who have told me how much they appreciate a forum where there is no such thing as a too-basic question, where almost without exception contributors are kind and generous - and think about it, has anybody ever got flamed? I'm pretty sure not.

The bottom line is this: We need help. If anybody has the time and desire to assume the moderator position in BookThink's forum, please write me at and we'll discuss it. At this time, this won't be a paid position, but there will be significant non-monetary compensation.

Copy Editor

Everybody needs one, even gifted writers like our columnists, and BookThink now has multiple monthly columnists, not to mention one- and two-time contributors who seem to pop up at every turn. At present, this task primarily falls on ME!!! Anybody who has professional experience in this field and would be willing to work with us in any capacity whatsoever would be met with massive appreciation - and some non-monetary perqs as well. Again - is the address to write to.

A Note of Thanks

It seems like you can never say thanks enough to those who have graciously helped you build something, so every time I pause to thank you guys, I feel as though I'm late in saying it. But we so much appreciate the support of our readers and contributors and are proud of what so many of you have done here - both on the forum and in articles - also proud of how you have grown your businesses in what has become a highly competitive field. And whatever you do, don't stop sending me emails just because I complained about how much time I don't have. Your feedback - questions and comments both - give me purpose and are forever welcome.

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