#85, 8 January 2007

A Profile of Aslan Books


NAME: Jeffrey & Jeanine Dyer


LOCATION: Queen Creek, Arizona

WEBSITE (if any): Aslan Boooks on Amazon and our own website Aslan's Pride is newly online.

NUMBER OF YEARS IN BUSINESS: 2 years (Sept 2004)

PART TIME OR FULL TIME: Part time for Jeff; full time for Jeanine

BOOKSELLING VENUES USED (in order of importance): Currently, we sell only on Amazon. We've sold on other venues but have not been completely satisfied. After selling on eBay for about 6 months, eBay Stores fees increased. We estimated that our fees would total about 33% of our gross revenue and id not desire to double our workload in order to lower our costs, so we made the decision to close our eBay Store. Amazon offers us a great venue on which to sell nearly anything we want and makes it fairly easy to do so. Unlike those who miss Amazon's Z-shops, Aslan Books welcomes the new Store Fronts. (We didn't use the Z-shops.) We are also excited about a new venue that is being added soon ... our own website.

SIZE OF INVENTORY: Our online store consists of over 1000 items with many more being added daily. Currently, we sell between 100 and 150 books per month. Our average sales price usually falls between $15 and $20. We have converted our formal dining room into a library with a desk and a shipping table and a TV/VCR combination for testing videos. A laptop is used simultaneously for working and testing music/DVDs.

With the holidays approaching, even though sales naturally increase at this time of year, we have decided to focus on turning over our inventory fairly quickly. We look for books that are ranked within the top 100,000 on Amazon and sell them no lower than the lowest competing price. We set equivalent standards for other items, such as music. We do carry items with lower rankings, but they are generally leftovers from using different methods. We scout, list, and ship daily. Our inventory can grow as fast as we want it to - that is, we do not lack for places to scout. Our plan includes certain standards that we put in place to control sales and inventory. One very important rule that we stick to is to avoid buying books we cannot sell for at least double what we paid for them.

SPECIALTIES: We feature various media - books, CDs, DVDs, VHS, software, board games and sell whatever we can find that has good value and is family-friendly. We've started putting more time into board games with Christmas and winter weather approaching. We also limit international sales according to our own experiences and have made changes to reduce the risk of unsatisfied or frustrated customers and loss of profit from high shipping rates to certain areas of the world.

We were discouraged recently when we received an email from Amazon informing us that only approved sellers could sell games on Amazon until after the holidays. This occurred just after we had made a large purchase of games, had gone through them and were in the middle of listing them. The deadline was 2 days from the day we got the email. Shortly thereafter, however, we received another email congratulating us on being approved to sell games at Amazon Yippee!

WHY I SELL BOOKS: Opportunity and privilege. This is how we view bookselling. We enjoy it immensely! The treasure hunt, the freedom it gives Jeanine to work from home and attend to our 3-year-old and two teenagers, the satisfaction of helping people find what they need, the resources at our fingertips, the growth we have experienced (inside and out), the friends we have made, the independence of ownership, the things we have learned, the ability to make our own improvements, and the challenge of customer satisfaction are only a few of the reasons that we sell books. Our three children certainly have no complaints. It is their job to preview the videos, DVDs, and music before we list them. They have to ensure that they work properly, and they work very hard at it, you know! There are also four avid readers in this family and more relatives than we can count who love to read. We are never short of gifts for any occasion. We also enjoy having so many resources at our fingertips and adding to our knowledge about books and a variety of subjects on a daily basis. We make friends wherever we go from all over the world.


  1. Set up a budget. If you are just starting, resist the temptation to spend the money you make. Instead put it back into the business until your inventory reaches a level that can support a steady income.

  2. Set aside time to scout and list daily. Hit the closest thrift stores, also ask when they stock their books and how often, where they place the new ones, and it doesn't hurt to ask them to allow you to scan their inventory before it goes on the shelves. Be sure to remind them how they will benefit from doing so first.

  3. Know your computer and research helpful software.

  4. Research your products and prices before listing them. Many sellers do not and may under- or overprice items. Neither is good. When selling used items, it is good to know specifically what the current competitive price is for the item, whether it originally came as part of a set, what a signature or first edition is worth, etc. Education takes time, but the investment you make in it will increase your bottom line.

  5. Your business name brands you. It lets people know who you are and what you sell. It can help or harm your sales rate and attract a certain type of audience while repelling another. Our name, Aslan Books, attracts people who are familiar with the name Aslan, who is the Lion in the CS Lewis book (and now film), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Lion symbolizes the great King. To Christians, allegorically he is Jesus. We happen to sell many Christian resources. As we grow, our name will slightly change to reflect the variety of products we sell.

  6. Describe your used products thoroughly. Customers appreciate seller honesty. We realize that some may not have time to do this, but if you care about customer ratings, (which allows us to sell games on Amazon during the holidays!), look over your item inside and out and be sure to point out every plus and minus that would matter to the pickiest customer. For most customers, what matters most is the price, bit it is not everything. It is better to set the condition of a book lower and make the sale than it is to set the condition higher than it should be and risk a return and a bad rating.

  7. Be sure that there is a place on your seller page where customers can view your policies, shipping methods, etc.

BEST BOOKSELLING TIP: Provide excellent customer service! Go above and beyond the call of duty. Make friends, no matter what! Your customers support your success. They are the most important factor in your success or failure as a business, and if most of them believe in you, your product, your services, and what you stand for, you will build a clientele that will be loyal to you in the future.


FAVORITE QUOTE: Everything written by CS Lewis is our favorite. Certainly, if we were to put all of our very favorites here, it would take up way too much space. But, for the sake of the question, here is a sample:

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

On the humorous side, our favorite quote is by our former and late President, Ronald Reagan, who during a sound check, was overheard saying:

"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes."


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