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How I Turned My Business Around
in One Weekend

or ASellerTool to the Rescue

by Judy Lanskey

#108, 26 November 2007

I don't know how many of you felt that Craig was addressing you, personally, in his most recent Gold Premium Edition (October 17 issue), but I certainly did. He may as well have put my name on it. I entered bookselling by listing my own personal books. In those golden, early days of 2005, every book I listed seemed valuable, giving me a badly skewed notion that I could make an easy full-time living while working part-time.

Well, reality intruded. Although I worked at my bookselling business full-time, it usually yielded a barely adequate part-time income. I attended FOLs and dragged home mountains of books that turned out to be 50% rejects and what seemed like 50% slow movers. So, after reading Craig's article, I turned to him for advice. As a single mom with two special needs boys, I have a strong desire to remain at home for them until they finish school. My business goal is simple: I want to double what is currently a good monthly income for me ($1,000) and bring in at least $24,000 yearly.

Craig's first suggested getting a scanner. He believed taking that one step alone might make up the difference I was seeking. In less than two weeks that suggestion turned my business around.

ASellerTool arrived on Thursday, October 25. As promised, it was ready to use right out of the box. My boys were spending that weekend with their Dad, so I was free to play with the new toy. I started scanning everything in the house with a bar code - boxes of books that I hadn't gotten around to listing, books on the floor in my closets, CDs, DVDs, etc. If it had a bar code, I scanned it. What a surprise! By late Thursday evening, I had 74 listable items.

The scanner helped me sort through all my stuff and divide it into three piles: rejects (9 bags!), listable items, and valuable items. Seems that some photography books sitting on my shelves had gone out of print and upwards in value. Getting rid of the dreck was energizing. It motivated me to go through the now smaller pile of pre-ISBN books and spend an hour getting listing or bagging them.

Late Thursday evening, I started a listing frenzy that ended Friday morning. One small sale came through Thursday. On Friday, 12 more items sold, and on Saturday another 9 orders arrived. By Tuesday, when I wrote Craig, I had sold 33 of the 74 items that I had listed. When I received the scanner on the 25th, I had only 21 sales adding up to $400 that month. With the help of ASellerTool, I made a strong finish, ending the month with 54 sales.

Craig suggested that I write an article to share my experience with ASellerTool with my fellow BookThinkers, but I wanted to wait until I tried it out in the "real" world. On November 2-s4, I attended three FOLs and used the scanner at each. I was a little nervous at first, but I since was using the handheld scanner with ear buds, I was quite discreet. Getting the first confirmation of a great buy got me past the hesitancy quickly, and none of the FOLs that I attended banned scanners, anyway. I avoided getting in anyone's way and left the books orderly.

What a great feeling it is to know that every book I bring home is a winner and that I'll never deal with rejects, again! I amassed 69 books from the FOL sales for a total cash outlay of $152; a conservative estimate of their listing value is $1134. Very cool, indeed.

I listed the books late Sunday evening and early Monday morning, November 5. The results? The first day, I sold 9 of them for a total of $164. In less than 2 weeks, I have all but paid for the Premium ASellerTool package. And, like the gift that keeps on giving, I am still selling books from the original 74 that I listed. To date, an additional 5 of those have sold, bringing the total to 38 sold out of 74 listed (51%) in less than two weeks. Amazing!

As Craig pointed out in his article on ASellerTool, you need to use common sense with the scanner because it does make mistakes.

I got false readings on 2 mass market paperbacks (both romances), but immediately became suspicious when they both had the same rankings and price ($250,000 at 200,000 in ranking). A quick check by phone told me to return them to the shelves. There were no other mistakes, and by the time I listed my purchases, I found a couple worth more than expected.

The scanner reinforced my realization that sales rank is key to keeping my business afloat. I will continue to add pre-ISBN books to my listings but only after I have listed enough ISBN books with decent sales ranks to keep my income humming along.

So, what has this tool meant for me and my business? For the first time, I'm confident in my ability to make a full-time living from bookselling. That's important. But knowing I can remain home with my two boys is worth even more - it's priceless.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some announcements from ASellerTool: ASellerTool will release version 5.0 (upgrade) for its PDA scouting program in early December. This will include the following enhancements:

  • A new listing tool to allow booksellers to list 100 books to Amazon marketplace in 5 minutes.
  • A better human voice cue for reading pricing data.
  • The screen for the PDA scouting program will now fit perfectly with the smaller screen size of Treo Smartphone.
Also, in early December, ASellerTool will offer a limited time promotional $50 discount for its various PDA scouting packages that come with brand-new HP iPAQ PDAs. This offer will expire on 12/31/2007.

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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