Special Announcements 2

by Craig Stark

#156, 12 June 2011

Few venues - well, let's be real: No venue has undergone as many changes as eBay has over the years. My hat goes off to anybody who started there in 1990s and still has a viable selling presence for this reason alone. There aren't many of us left - for this reason and, of course, others. Nobody talks about this much. If there's talk about numbers, specifically about bookselling, it's about how many books are listed, or how many sellers there are, or, shudder, how many books are sold. Or aren't.

If we're talking about the present state of bookselling, there's no question that those numbers, which have more or less grown steadily year in and year out, notwithstanding disguise a massive turnover of booksellers since eBay's founding in 1995. (That's 16 years, by the way - an eternity in cyber years.) Anybody who spends any time either researching eBay sellers or even, say, participating in the eBay Booksellers forum knows that almost nobody is still around from the early days. I used to keep a running list of booksellers who I either had success purchasing inventory from or wanted to watch because they often taught me something. At one point, about four or five years ago, my entire first page of sellers had been crossed out save one. It seemed ridiculous to go on using this format, and today I just bookmark sellers instead and delete them when they disappear.

Does this bode ill for those getting into bookselling today? Well, it depends. In some ways bookselling is more difficult to succeed at today than it was even ten years ago, and the reasons are many. In one important way, however, it's never been easier to distance yourself from your competition. Why? Because almost nobody wants to learn more than the bare minimum about books - just enough to get by is what it looks like to me, time and time again. So - the opportunity to make a part-time or full-time living at bookselling is still very much alive. The only barrier to success is an unwillingness to learn what needs to be learned to make it happen.

I'll revisit this topic again, but for the time being, if bookselling intrigues you, take a look at BookThink's product page [link]. There are many resources that can get you started and help you rise above the competition.

It's time once again for Pamela Palmer's Top 10 on eBay - another good resource for learning about books! Her preview: The May 2011 fiction top 10 features Tolkien, Grisham, Trollope, Faulkner, Burroughs, King, Fleming, and Gibson, along with 2 copies of A Game of Thrones. Of these, 3 sold as Best Offers, 1 sold as a BIN, and 6 were auctions. In the non-fiction category, there were 4 Best Offers, 2 BINs, and 4 auctions. The Antiquarian & Collectible category was diverse with Karl Marx's Capital sitting aside Oscar Wilde's poetry, Theodore Roosevelt's game hunting in Africa, Mirour for Magistrates, and Winnie the Pooh.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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