#82, 20 November 2006

Profile of Julie Anna Schultz


NAME OF BUSINESS: Book Jewels for Children

LOCATION: Internet, mostly eBay.

WEBSITE: Our eBay listings can be found here.

Our website can be found here.

NUMBER OF YEARS IN BUSINESS: We are just about at our five year anniversary!

PART TIME OR FULL TIME: Hmmm, well, the business is our primary income, but we work part time hours.

BOOKSELLING VENUES USED (in order of importance): Via AOB we list on eBay, Amazon, Half, ValoreBooks, Biblio, and Alibris. We're still learning how to multiple list through The Art of Books website, but we love it so far. I grew up on eBay, so this is all quite new; exciting, but new.

SIZE OF INVENTORY: Just a handful over 700 books at present.

SPECIALTIES: We specialize in children's collectible and out of print books. We are a homeschool family, so we know the book market for homeschoolers. We don't specialize in that niche per se, but we do include homeschool books in our inventory.

WHY I SELL BOOKS: It was the next natural step in a progression of addictive behavior. We love books. My family, at the time seven children, and my husband went to used book sales. I wondered what would happen to the boxes of leftover books after the sale. To my horror, the answer was that the books would be thrown into the dumpster. We embarked upon a mission right then and there. Even if I have to buy them and give them away to the thrift stores, at least I feel the book has a chance to make it on to someone's shelf. I don't rescue every book, but certainly many books that the librarians say don't circulate any longer. It's a sad state to know today's children aren't reading the books that naturally teach subjects in an engaging fashion. One of my most favorite pastimes is turning parents onto great literature. Many folks weren't blessed with a love for reading childhood, yet have children in which they desire to introduce excellent literature. I help them by suggesting long out of print treasures. Are they valuable? Many of them are not, not by a long shot. They are, however, treasures to behold. Did I answer your question?

ADVICE FOR NEW BOOKSELLERS: Don't give up. Adapt. Research and learn from someone who is doing it better and smarter. Mentoring is a bit of a lost art, but the internet affords opportunity for us to take time and learn from another who is more successful. I am always learning to better our business. It is why I have joined folks like Craig and his forum regulars to give back what little I can. I am always learning from BookThink's regular readers and forum members. Of course, reading every single article written by Craig Stark should be a job requirement. Learn, learn, and learn. Then do something with what you have learned. Don't get stuck in the "research" mode. Take that next step. I have received inspiration and practical advice from positive folks who are doing their jobs well, very well. As you grow, help others. This 'paying forward' will reward you since it will sharpen you in the areas you may have neglected. As you answer a question from a newer-than-you bookseller, you can see where something may have slipped a bit in your business model. I founded a Yahoo group for this very reason. Mentoring works. Find a great teacher and the sky is the limit.

BEST BOOKSELLING TIP: If at all possible, outsource menial tasks and include people that may want to help you in the business. Delegation is a learned skill but quite needful to step up to the highest level of book selling. We have our business set up to include most of our children - eleven children so far - but a few are too young to help much. Nathan is the newest model (you would have to know the Frank Gilbreth, Jr. story to get that one!). He is only four months old, but he provides the moral support here at Book Jewels. Some companies refer their employees to inner growth meetings; we just gaze at a smiling baby for awhile and the office becomes serene again.

So, we have created a business position for everyone in the family - from acquisition, research, cleaning, photos, listing, email support, packing and shipping, to cheerfulness. Each family member has a job to do. Their part contributes to the unit. They understand that, without their job done, the production will fail. This is reminiscent of the old time family farm business. I think it is quite ironic to have taken an old-as-time concept known as family enterprise and to have wrapped it around a modern medium known as the Internet. It has been a ride, to be sure! Now that our (mom and dad) time has been freed up, we can pursue other avenues which bring in additional income. They are all natural extensions of our love - book selling. We now teach eBay classes, again as a family. My husband is flying all around the country teaching others. He has a vision to help homeschool families that want something similar in a business model. I write research articles for booksellers which help them understand the book selling market a bit better. Locally, he and several of the children teach with him. My techno son does the Power Point presentation, my daughter cooks and serves lunch, and they all push our ebooks - which are basically our experience as booksellers collected and written up in a file.

Some of the income streams are more lucrative than the bookselling, but I suspect we will always be selling books. It's a love and lifestyle for us - perhaps more of a mission than a business. Yet, it is a pretty successful business, and it's certainly a joy to be able to work at home with my family.

FAVORITE AUTHOR(S): Too many to list; people who think like me. John Taylor Gatto, Charles Carleton Coffin. For pleasure, Elizabeth Prentiss, George MacDonald, Gene Stratton Porter and so many more. FAVORITE QUOTE: Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier. Kathleen Norris, Hands Full of Living.


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