From The Editor

by Craig Stark

#95, 21 May 2007

How many potential customers pass by? In online bookselling, there's rarely an opportunity to figure this out. If we enable a counter on our eBay listings - or, better yet, subscribe to a service like Sellathon, we can monitor how many visitors arrive at our listings, note the paths they follow to find us, etc., and so much more, but unless these passersby communicate directly with us, we'll never know why a single one of them moves on without bidding or purchasing.

Assuming the books themselves are desirable, it may have nothing at all to do with the quality of our listings - how well our books are described, how competitive our prices are, whether there are photographs or not. And yet, we have to assume that, in at least some cases, something we've done (or haven't done) has chased them off despite our best intentions.

Essentially, most book buyers are looking for two things - a specific book priced fairly and in desirable condition and a seller they can trust throwing money at. "Trust" is the dark unknown, and ultimately it's the seller's obligation to somehow build it into descriptions, into feedback (on venues where it's available), or into some other something. It isn't easy, and doubtless it comes down to how well you can communicate to others that you are indeed a real person, actually in possession of the books you're listing, and committed to conducting business with integrity. A tall order.

Tall, but not too tall. To some extent, this can be accomplished in the descriptions we write for our books (more about this in an upcoming Gold Edition), alternately by building and maintaining a personal website and taking pains to present ourselves as competent booksellers (more about this soon too) - and there are likely a dozen or more other means available to us as well. But what will get us to this destination without undue delay and with the least expense?

I don't necessarily have the answer for you, but thanks to Steve Weber, I now have an idea that might work very well for me (and you) - MySpace. I recently had the pleasure of reading Steve's new book, Plug Your Book! In it Steve devotes an entire chapter to how to market, among other things, a book you've authored - and "among other things" necessarily includes promoting your bookselling business - on MySpace. If you're harboring a notion that MySpace is nothing more than a meeting place teeming with hormone challenged teenagers, let me take this opportunity to disabuse you of it. MySpace is fast becoming an unusually effective tool for business networking - including bookselling.

MySpace, per Alexa's rankings, is presently the 5th ranked website overall, bettering eBay and a host of other well known destinations. Besides being very, very big, it's free. There's much more, but I'll let Steve take over now. Our first and only article today is the complete text from Steve's MySpace chapter (with some added content).

If, after reading this, you're inspired to give it a try, I invite you to visit BookThink's newly launched spot at MySpace.

Though a work in progress and not yet fully conceived, we'll definitely be adding content here that's otherwise not available on the website (with a special focus on bookselling tips), scheduling real time events, and now and again offering free BookThink products that you'd otherwise have to get up off your wallet for. Once you're registered, be sure to visit us and become a BookThink MySpace friend. Bookseller Anita Ashland is our MySpace administrator. You can contact her at Registered MySpace members can also email her directly through MySpace.

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