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,

October 30, 2007

Q&A "Yippee, I found a book listed for $3300.00"

Dear Janet

I am listing books we bought at thrift stores this week and have a
toughie: Study Guide to accompany Business Information Systems, An
Introduction 5th edition by Diana Stark, ISBN 0070358737, paperback, out
of print, c. 1993. It has 256 pages. Hardback books are listed for $20
to 50, Paperback lists for $3300.00 on Abebooks and $2385.00 on Amazon by
the same seller. I updated our scanner today and scanned the book again
and it came up used good condition for $500.00, no rating, 1 book listed.
I checked several other sites and didn't find anything to tell me why
the other seller listed it for so much. I'm not sure what price to list
it with. What would you suggest?

This is an excellent question and one you WILL come across in your book selling business. Here is my reply below.

Hi Brent,
I think you may have found one of those dreamers who thinks that
they can price a book for what they want to get for it instead of allowing the
demand to price it for you. Oddly others who may find this uncommon (and
unwanted) book also have hopped on board as well and followed suite in the high
price. Below is a listing on Amazon (I think you also found this one as well)
that lists this same book in HB for 34 cents! If you want to, go head and list
it. Perhaps it is a first edition ....or signed by the author or.... is gold
plated but someone may buy it. In my opinion you may not have a hope in heaven
of it selling at that price but it may be very interesting to watch a price war
that may occur. (but probably won't since there is such low demand) The rank is
over 5 million so don't hold your breath. For humors sake, I might list my copy
along side that only listing for ...say, $1999.00 and see if he lowers his price
to match yours.

Here is the link to the paper back version of the same title.

Do not be discouraged though. High priced books are out there. We just
sold one for $270.00 and that is small price compared to what some of your books
can sell for if you hone your book selling skills well.

This is also a prime example of learning to "interpret the data" on your scanner. Watching for one only copy listed at an unusually high price can mean you have hit the jack pot or may mean you have found a dreamer so I would try to make a judgment on whether or not to buy it. But quite honestly, I would probably have bought it as well, on a hope that after I did more research I might find some validity to the scanned price. If not, oh well, it was worth a try! The research experience that you did was worth the price you paid for the book! "

Janet Langford
Book Sellers Online

May 31, 2007

Hey, where did my listings go?

"I know I listed this but where is it?"
Has this happened to you yet? If not, it will. You will be searching for a book that has sold and right beside it on the shelf is a book that is interesting and you've forgotten about. You pull the book and start flipping through it as all great book lovers tend to do. Then you start wondering if you've even seen it in your open listings lately. You check and it isn't there. What happened?

Don't worry, its' nothing that you have done or neglected to do. Periodically Amazon "accidentally" drops listings and they fly off into cyber space never to be seen from again all the while your valuable book is sitting on the shelf waiting for a good home, collecting dust and ultimately wasting your time and money.

What to do? There isn't much you can do. Glitches happen. But you can do a periodic culling that has two benefits. It pulls dead wood from your shrinking inventory space and discovers all the dropped listing books that are pulling your month end totals down.

Here's how you do it.
It takes two to tango and so it takes two to cull as well. Person one is on your Amazon open listings site and person two is in the closet (or wherever else you store your inventory) The computer guy simply calls out the book titles one by one that are listed on your open listings and the closet guy is marking all the SKU stickers with a yellow highlighter as he locates them. At the same time the computer guy also notes the current ranking on Amazon of each listing, (hidden in your SKU's, of course) compares it with the current price and may yell out "pull" if he deems it a "waste of space." (As we all know the longer a book is listed the lower the price tends to go.) So if it has been listed for a while, even if you have updated your prices, it still may not sell due to decreasing demand or over flooding on the market plummeting the prices to a mere pittance. It is best to count your losses, cull the deadwood and make room for more inventory.
The computer guy then deletes those listings. After all the stock has been called out the sku stickers without yellow highlighting are the lost in space items that need to be relisted and you've also culled deadwood at the same time. There you have it; two birds with one stone!

Another benefit to this method is once a listing has been deleted, an email confirmation is sent to your email box and voila, you now have a donation list and the cost of those books (hidden in your sku's again) for an income tax write off. If you do this every 3-4 months you will stay quite current in your listings and minimize loss of space and income as well.

Happy Book Selling!
Janet Langford

May 21, 2007

We Did it!


Our new, improved and complete website is up and on the web.

The spelling mistakes are fixed.

....and...and all our pictures are there!

...and... and ... it's all working. (Well except for our about us link. If you will forgive me for that one, I think I will pat myself on the back for the accomplishment anyway.)

In the internet world, you don't have to get it perfect. You just have to get it up there. And it is!

Check it out below and leave a comment on our blog if you will. You'll see the link to our blog on the newsletter page.

Now on to why I wrote in the first place.

Below is the link I promised all of you new booksellers a week or so ago. Michael and Julia Anna Schultz is a family with an incredible entrepreneurial vision. They have 11 children and they all contribute and completely support themselves through children's books sales on ebay! Their ebook is well worth the investment. Check it out here.

That may be all for now but I'll be in touch now that that this hurdle has been mastered. On with the newsletter I promised you all. I am really excited about sharing the 17 years of homeschool experience with you and the tips and tricks I have learned over the years of raising your kids with that entrepreneurial mindset so necessary for their future success.

Cheers! I'm going to celebrate and then get back to work.

Janet Langford