September 30, 2008

Let your postal worker do the walking......

IF any of you remember the old commercial... (that now seems so outdated with the advent of the Internet).. that goes somewhat like this....
Let your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages.

(Doesn't the jingle come right back to you?)

Well, a new tip for you all over-busy, travel-weary, book sellers this buying season. Let your postal worker do the walking right to your door to pick up your daily mail!

Yes, tis true, you do not have to fly out the door at 10 to 5 everyday just in time to catch the sliding folding door close before you. You can sit back at ease and have your waiting mail on the door step and USPS will pick them up. Too good to believe? It works great!

A few criteria, though. You must order the pick up the night before (before midnight central time, I believe) and the pick up must contain one (or more) Priority or Express packages. You may include any other packages that you have ready at the time-first class, media mail, but for the pick up to be free, it must contain one of the above priority or express shipment speeds.

That's it. It works great and I do love it for those days when my car is in the shop or it is such a rainy season or I'm just tired of running out everyday.

The only draw back I can see is this. The postal worker does not drop off her pick up load until she returns to the post office after her day is done and so the shipment may not go out as soon in the day as you might want. I sometimes get my first class mail to my post office by 2:30 to catch the first class truck going out. I suspect, but have not confirmed this, that the mail that I may have gotten there by 2:30 would then go out by 5:30 instead. Not much of a delay but nevertheless a small one to consider if you are already late for some reason.

I plan on using this pick up service a lot more this coming winter season and may even upgrade a book to priority daily to qualify for the pick up. Once you get into the habit of using this service it might become addictive! Try it, you might like it, and let your fingers do the walking to the USPS site and have tomorrow's mailing picked up at your door.

January 25, 2008

The Ideal Family Business

Having a book selling business on Amazon is a wonderful business, part time or full, and has many advantages but some drawbacks as well. Learning to be self motivated helps but the paycheck also acts as a very real motivation. (I love the direct correlation to this fact and my boys get to see first hand, "No worky-no payee!")

Working at home has many advantages such as:

We can set our own hours.

We can shop for our clothes at Goodwill if we want to. (no fancy clothes needed -PJ's work, too!)

We can check my orders at midnight or 6:00AM

We can drive more than a month on a tank of gas. (No daily commuting costs)

We can take off whenever we want. (Just put my listings on vacation setting)

If one or all of us are sick, we don't have to call any boss to say we're not coming in.

No staff problems (I actually love my "staff")

I love the perks-finding more great books at steal prices for our own home library

Working at home has challenges, too.

We have to discipline ourselves to work when we need to and to quit working when we are done. (both important)

If we mess up, we have no one to blame but ourselves. (teaches self government and personal responsibility

Sometimes you tend to think you live at your job. It takes careful planning to not feel that way. See previous post on the "hidden business"

Record keeping becomes is a necessary evil.

Other people don't understand that it's a real job. (If only they knew how much money we make!)

I feel very grateful that my boys and I can contribute in a very practical and real way to our family income AND my boys are learning business skills at the same time: Product sourcing, customer service, inventory, pricing and competition, record keeping, etc. Invaluable skills that we are PAID to learn!

It is the idea family business!!

January 10, 2008

Cooking up some January sales!

Do you want to cook up some quick cash? You may have some serious dough sitting around on your shelves in your kitchen!

Since this is cookbook and diet book season what better time to purchase Family Business Ideas Cookbook files at a whopping 75% off?!

Their most recent cookbook sale was just the day before yesterday for $34. They paid $1 at a Friends of the Library sale. Julia Child has a following and many of her books can do well. Watch for the signed copies. You can have great success with French cookbooks, as well.

Julie Anna has over fifty titles selected and priced for you with the average final value price at $40. Everyone and anyone can make money selling cookbooks online. Don't forget you can send them through the mail at a discount service known as media mail, and media mail is travelling quite quickly now since the christmas backlog has cleared up, or upgrade to priority if your book is particlarily pricey.

Can you collect and assimilate this information yourself? Absolutely. But why spend the time when it has been done for you? Your time is so precious and could be easily squandered in information processing.

Julie Anna spent over six hours collecting and compiling this information. You are paying less than a dollar an hour for her time! Or think of it this way: For as much as a cup of Starbucks and a biscotti you can have information that potentially will make you hundreds of dollars each and every month.

This is a PDF or Excel file with all the bibliographic information for each cookbook title plus prices realized on eBay. There won't be links to pictures of the books like her private newsletter subscription provides. It's strictly text information.

To a prosperous book selling year!
Janet Langford

January 7, 2008

Velocity- Amazon Sales rank- the key to predicting a sale.

Many new sellers get excited when a new listing sells but ponder another listing that sits there for seemingly endless months. It is not a hit and miss happening that some may believe. It has all to do with velocity. Getting to know and interpret the Amazon Sales rank is probably the most important information you will need to learn. The ability to estimate when an item will sell could make the difference of buying it or leaving it on the table.

The Amazon sales rank can be found in the product details section on any sales page. Scroll down a bit till you find publisher info, number of pages, etc. This number can change frequently, sometimes even up to every hour but longer ranking items usually are a little more stable.

Amongst Amazon's over 5 millions titles listed it pays to know if anyone has actually purchased this book in the last year. The sales rank can be as low as #1 or high as that illusive five million. The lower the number, the faster you can expect a sale providing you have priced your listing competitively. If you list an item that has a rank of under 2-3000 you can usually expect it to sell within hours. If it is under 100 it could sell by the time you have listed it and flipped over to your email. Any listing that has a rank or N means that not even one has been sold in a year. If there are 32 items listed then walking away from that purchase at any price might be a good idea. Inventory criteria is going to be different amongst sellers but learning to establish your own boundaries are important for inventory space as well as your profitability.

It doesn't mean that you should rule out all high selling ranks. Some judgment will serve you well. If an item is in such short supply that that are none to sell then this will of course affect the rank. There could be buyers out there but none for sale. Be sure to do your research before listing it for 19.99 when in fact it could bring in much, much more. Keeping an eye on Amazon's published buyer waiting list could be more profitable than you think.

December 19, 2007

Top 10 out-of-print list includes rare fiction, nonfiction

Steve Weber's great end of the year list is up and ready to view. A word of caution though, I may not buy one one two of these books for sale should I even find them. I believe every seller should set the standard for what they will sell and will not sell, or more specifically what they will or will not bring into their house for innocent eyes to see. There are a few here that I would not invite home, but it is a good list to keep in the back of your mind in case you ever come across any of the acceptable books in your search.

December 10, 2007

Q&A:An Amazon customer requested I give them positive feedback. Can I do this?

Yes, you can do leave customer feedback but many sellers and buyers do not know about this feature on Amazon....and if an Amazon customer asks you for feedback, I'd say go right ahead.

However the reason may seem a little unnecessary since the biggest reason for leaving feedback on most online trading is non payment which is irrelevant on the Amazon site. Payments are processed automatically upon purchase and funds and credit cards are processed at Amazon's risk, not the sellers.

A good or bad rating therefore means little to sellers so it has not caught on in the Amazon marketplace. But customer feedback can prove very beneficial in one particular case and can be applied as a warning to future sellers without adding risk of bad retaliatory feedback to the present seller. I love what this bright anonymous poster added to Steve Webers blog:

"The reason that it could be useful, if used, at Amazon, is to find
buyers who are trying to cheat sellers by making false claims (my book did not show up, the post office damaged it, etc). Whenever a buyer receives a refund from me because a book did not arrive, I give them a five out of five (because I want to assume they are honest) and leave the comment "book did not arrive to this buyer; provided full refund from our store". If a seller were to ever go to this buyer's feedback page, they would see my feedback and maybe others if this buyer had a history of "missing books". This doesn't happen now because so few sellers or buyers know about the feature, but it could be useful if a few more sellers knew. "

So if a customer does ask you for feedback, which would be unlikely, but possible, go ahead. They may be new to Amazon and frequent shoppers on eBay and just assume that Amazon has the same system as eBay.

Go to your sellers account and then the sales page for that customer order and click on "leave customer feedback" Anything for good customer relations, it may help you in your quest for positive feedback as well. Every bit counts.

Janet, Jonathan and Graydon Langford

December 3, 2007

Are you drowning in books and bubble mailers?

Having a business in your home can have many benefits. No traffic jams, long commutes or difficult weather conditions. You get to start and finish almost when you want to and the price of gas doesn't faze you at all.
However, there are also some drawbacks. Having your office in your kitchen can feel like you are always at work. Having your computer so close at hand you are tempted to check your email far too often. Your kids may even complain that you are always on that computer! "Mom, pay attention to me!"

There is a solution, in fact a few. One of which is a carefully laid out schedule with designated work times and "home" times and ......moving your business to a less centralized, efficient and compact space.
I thought I'd post a few pictures of exactly what we did a few months ago. We turned our messy "in your face" book selling business that was out in the open into a completely invisible entity. Using an closet in an extra room off the kitchen, we turned our mess into a well confined, orderly and fully functional inventory/shipping department, and mail center. My daughter in law Stephanie, exclaimed, "You really ought to show people how your home doesn't look there is a business in it at all!"

So here it is. I wish we had thought to take a before picture but no such foresight. Take it from me, we had an an unsightly brown fold up table, placed over cardboard boxes of bubble mailers and packing material strewn with invoice slips and tape dispensers.

Never again! Now, we rather smugly challenge guests and book selling friends, "take a look and see if you can see evidence of a business in our home. " They usually can't.

Above is the right hand side of the closet. We cut down a CD rack that we had gotten at a garage sale and put it in the right hand corner. Directly to the left we installed clear plastic wall racks (Walmart) to hold the three sizes of bubble mailers that we use the most. Of course the books themselves are stacked numerically on wire racks that my sons installed. One was there already (being a closet) and the other two they added. (Home depot)

The ugly table still was needed but now is nestled deep into the closet to be used as a wrapping table. (We had to cut two inches off the back with a scroll saw in order for it to fit inside the closet) The top back surface doubles right now as storage for extra jewel cases, tape dispensers, Goo Gone and International Shipping Labels. Underneath the table for now are extra bubble mailers, and a garbage can but may well be room for another wire rack to be installed in the future in case of overflow.

Hanging on the open door is the "book bag" that is filled to the brim daily and handed to Mom as she heads out the door at 4:45 to drop off the loot for the day. When all is said and done, we close the doors and viola. Gone is the mess and the day of work. We can get on with the evening.

November 28, 2007

Essential tools of the trade-links

To start off selling books and other media on Amazon and other venues there are a few tools of the trade that will set you on your feet right away.

Sign up for an email to be sent to you when there are library book sales are in your area. Don't go without signing up for this free service. You will kick your self for missing a really great sale just because you didn't know about it.

Mediascouter, the best media scouting tool around-after much research! Our hand held PDA and Scanner attachment has become the essential tool of the trade in this business. We actually have two and are contemplating a third! The potential for buying duds and the high possibility for passing up the really big ones is too great to leave to guess work anymore.

Endicia , online postage software. This has saved me at least a half hour every day standing in the Post Office line up. I wouldn't go without them now!

We wrapped with heavy paper in the beginning but after a few complaints of damage we knew we had to invest in a supply of bubble mailers. Start with the variety pack and then you will be familiar with what sizes you will use most often and then just order those sizes.

We replace most jewel cases simply because they are so cheap and if you send a customer a 55.00 CD it should have a shiny new case. At .25 cents each that is not a bad investment for a good first impression.

Anyone else have their favorite suppliers that have done you well?

Janet Langford ... who cannot wait to show you some pictures of our invisible book business in our next post!

OH NO! They gave me a bad rating! What do I do?

Few and far between are sellers that have a 100% feedback rank. They are
there but you will rarely find one with over a 100 or so feedback
responses. Why is that? Aren't there sellers out there that offer far and
above the average standard of excellence in products and service? Yes,
there are. In fact, I consider our "GrandmaToAbby" books business to be one of them. But
we have a 98% rating and in the beginning with each and every bad rating we
received I cried.

I'm a little tougher now and can honestly put my arm around young sellers
with the warning. "It will happen, not if, but will." Sooner or later you will
get someone who just has had a bad day, and your 1 day late package sets them
off. You are a faceless entity on Amazon and to take out a
minor annoyance on a computer is all too common. You just happen to be in
the receiving end of that 1 or 2 out of 5 stars! Many think that if their
new CD skips that you tried to pull something over on them. Its' a natural
assumption since they cannot see you face to face.

Or perhaps you really did blow it and did a switcheroo on the address labels and you sent a
children's poetry book to a technical engineer who was anxiously awaiting his 6
Essential Tools of the Trade. These things and a multitude of other goofs will
happen on your end as well. But the speed and efficiency with which you
rectify the situation will make all the difference in the world. You can
even turn an angry fist shaking customer around with speedy action and a soft
word that turns away wrath! Some of my best online friends and return
customers started out as complaints!

Rules for living in the book selling business

1) Be empathic and take as much responsibility for the problem as you
can (and still be honest with your self) "I'm sorry your book received
damage," "I'm sorry your little boy was disappointed." Getting on
their side does wonders for making them not feel like you intentionally tricked
them or deceived them

2) Offer to replace the order with another copy, or a full refund if
necessary without the requirement to send back the defective or damaged copy.
Yes, it will cost you money on that order but a bad rating also hurts so try
your best to make it right one way or the other.

3) Go over and above their expectations in speed of response and service.
Getting back to a complaining customer in a few hours usually blows them
away. At least check your rating and email twice a day.

IF you do get a bad rating and are able to rectify the issue to the
customers satisfaction you can sweetly and politely ask them to remove the bad
rating on your account. Many will but some simply won't reply to your
email. So far our response rate has been about 50%. Below is a sample of
what I may write to a defused customer. Always be sure to add the actual
instructions on how to remove the rating. You may well loose the removal
if they cannot find out how to do it!

Dear Bill,
We thank you for your order several weeks ago. We strive for customer
satisfaction just because we truly love this business of love selling books and music.
We love it because we enjoy
providing excellent service to our customers.
You placed a bad rating on our account because you were
disappointed in the condition of the CD that we sent you. It was listed in "acceptable"condition and described as, " it did play well on our player."
That's fine. I understand it probably was in worse condition than you thought
and I understand. We promptly refunded your full purchase price including

Our Amazon rank severely affects our ability to sell
and warns other buyers of potential problems in dealing with a particular
seller. As a FAMILY business this good or bad reputation advises other
buyers of potential problems with honesty or integrity and can dampen
business for us. I'm wondering, in light of our speedy refund and our
reputation for very speedy shipping times, would you be so kind as to remove
your bad rating placed on our account. It's actually quite easy.

If you go to "your account" shown on the top of any Amazon page, click
"open or recently shipped orders," then select the relevant order and then
there is a button to click "remove rating." There is a small choice of
reasons for removal and that is it. Thank you so much and we appreciate your
business and do hope to serve you again in the future.

Most Sincerely,
Janet Langford
"GrandmaToAbby" Books

November 1, 2007

Q&A Are garage sales a good source for books?

One of the first questions that we are asked is where do you get your books?
Some of you know of our jack pot find last year of 3 boxes of current graduate level textbooks valued at 1200.00! You gotta read what this weary garage saler found! I no longer feel the need to boast. I think I will let this article answer that question!

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad garage sale day till the last sale – which was not advertised and we almost didn’t go to – my friend was hot and my friend was tired.

“Let’s just do this one, it’s only a few blocks away. I said. Then we can call it a day”.

It’s almost noon. Old house in the “arty part” of Houston. Sale was in the back, in a garage apartment occupied by a self proclaimed ‘natural healer & herbiest”. We walk up and there are 2 big tables piled with books. Big, thick fat books. Books without dust jackets and shiny picture covers. Books published by Gulf, Mosby, Wiley & Academic Press. I scan the first 3 and suddenly have $600 worth of inventory in my hand. We each fill up 2 boxes.

“Folks just give me books” says the guy, “ I need to clear them out, in fact just threw some away, go look”. I lift the lid of the trash can and pull out the first book - $250. Gives new meaning to the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

“Got more inside – you want to go look? “. Is the Pope Catholic?

2 hours later my friend calls her husband to come and pick her up – there isn’t enough room in my car for all the books.

I have 12 boxes of academic, technical and medical books, all of which I scanned. Most rank in 2,000,000 and up but for those prices they can sit and wait for a buyer

I paid: $100!

My friend has the same. And paid the same.

The “Profits” screen of my Axim read $10,000+ when we’d finished.

On my way home I stopped at a sandwich shop next to Half Price Books to grab a bite to eat.

For some odd reason I had no desire at all to go inside and check out the Clearance Shelf.

I wonder why?

P.S. We went back twice during the week and bought still more books.

Labels: Book Selling, Garage Sales

posted by Books, Computers & Puppets,