there is some good information in the book if you no absolutely nothing about bookselling online but it is full of outdated dead links and it is identical to the book "Online Bookselling: A Practical Guide With Detailed Explanations And Insightful" by Michael Mould. the two books are so close that it is obvious that one of them just completely copied the other. So buy one of them but not both.
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I haven't read the book yet, however, the quality/condition of the book itself was excellent....from browsing through the pages briefly I'm excited and looking forward to reading this book; it seems very promising...can't wait to read!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
256 of 268 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Advice and No Rosy Glasses. Highly recommendedDec 8 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
`The Home-Based Bookstore' is written by Steve Weber, who solicited this review from me and supplied me with a copy of his book. I expect this will not influence my review, but it is good for you to know this up front.
Before I opened this book, I posed some questions I thought the book should answer. These questions, with the author's response follow:
1. What are the criteria for choosing Amazon.com, eBay, or one's own site for selling a particular title?
The author clearly prefers Amazon over most other options, although he gives some good reasons for setting up your own web page.
2. How do you pick titles to sell? Some obvious examples, such as Stephen King hardcovers are really poor second hand sellers.
The author gives some very general suggestions on which titles to pick and which titles to avoid. I agree with him almost entirely, although I can think of some exceptions to most of his titles to avoid; however, that is based on special knowledge of certain fields such as cookbooks.
3. How do you acquire interesting titles cheaply? Whenever I browse a second hand bookstore, 99 out of 100 titles are pure junk. I have yet to find, for example, an important out of print cookbook at any used bookstore.
The author provides many good sources, including every one I could think of, plus one or two I did not think of.
4. How do you track your stock so you can quickly determine whether or not you have a title OR where you may be able to acquire a title for a book hunter.
The author gives many useful answers to this question, including some new technology options that really surprised me, based on accessing the Internet through your cell phone.
5. What is the best shipping option considering cost versus speed?
The author gives some very good analyses on the advantages and disadvantages of fast versus slow delivery options.
6. Is there any value to branching out to recordings?
The author never once discusses how to apply his suggestions to other merchandise, even though he does go so far as to consider expanding an Internet sales operation to a brick and mortar store.
One of the reasons the author does not deal with other goods is that marketing books through the Internet is so much richer a subject than I imagined, in spite of the fact that I am a major customer of these services. The amount of software written to support this enterprise is staggering.
In a nutshell, Mr. Weber has given us an excellent manual on how to do this very specialized, albeit very popular form of Internet marketing.
The first sure sign that Steve was not pulling the wool over our eyes was when he stated that while this activity can be really rewarding, it is still hard work. The plus side is that you get to keep all the rewards of this hard work.
Since running a bookstore was always one of my secret ambitions, I really appreciated almost everything Weber had to say about this adaptation of the corner bookstore. If I were to point out any one thing where the author was light on his recommendations, it would be with the fact that I think a person who really knows and loves books in the first place will do much better than the average entrepreneur. I suspect that one could get into real estate investing without a good knowledge of law, carpentry, or finance, but unlike houses, books are something which not everyone knows well. One test for an aspiring book merchandising operation would be to name the leading textbook authors in statistics, economics, symbolic logic, and organic chemistry. I cite these because Mr. Weber makes the excellent point that non-fiction books hold their value much better than fiction, especially current popular fiction. The author does not point this out, but a major exception to this rule should be manuals on computer software. No one has any use anymore for a text on Multiplan, dBase III, or Wordpro.
I especially liked Mr. Weber's recommendation that the reader consider specializing in a particular field, such as cookbooks. This is an especially good suggestion as everyone must eat and so everyone needs someone to cook for him or her. It is also a good field as there is a rich bibliography of out of print cookbooks which most foodies would love to have access to, such as English writer Jane Grigson's catalogue.
While Mr. Weber does not deal with any other type of goods, I suggest his suggestions would work almost as well for records, toys, or collectibles in general, as long as you know your subject.
I am very happy Mr. Weber provided his book to me for review as it is very unlikely I would have found it on my own, and it is an especially fertile plot of ideas, suggestions, and guidance regarding this enterprise. I am happy for him that he got his work into print when he did.
143 of 153 people found the following review helpful
A real nuts-and-bolts guide to making moneyDec 3 2005
Michael J. Edelman
- Published on Amazon.com
There are untold thousands of books on the market that promise the buyer a way to make money. Most just provide an outline, or some ideas that the author claims will produce guarenteed millions, buying distressed properties, government surplus, whatever. Some are by successful business owners, but don't really get into the details of running a business. And some are out-and-out frauds.
This book, though, is almost unique among how-to business books. It's written by a successful busienssman, and it's a real, practical nuts-and-bolts guide to setting up an internet-based used book store. In fact, it's so detailed you have to wonder why the author is going to such pains to help set up his own competition.
There are chapters on where to buy books, what books to sell and which to avoid, how to grade books, the best selling venues, how to describe books, how to set up an inventory system, how to deal with problems- if you can't run a business using this book alone, you shouldn't be running a business, period.
Now reading this book won't guarentee you can make a successful go of an on-line used bookstore; you still need the kind of drive and perseverence that characterize all successful business owners. This isn't something you can make a go of in a few hours a week; it requires dedication. And you need to be flexible; I suspect that this business model won't be profitible forever, as the publishing market changes. But it's a good model for more than just books. I could see applying the same model to other used goods.
If you are, in fact, the kind of person who has the drive and the devotion to make a business work, and you're looking for a good business model to start with, you could do a lot worse than to get a copy of "The Home-Based Bokstore". I strongly suspect that this book will spawn a lot of new Internet entrepenuers.
145 of 156 people found the following review helpful
Enough information to get you started.Nov. 28 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
The Home-Based Bookstore doesn't claim to be complete and comprehensive, so it's probably not fair to give it only four stars because it skimps on some useful information.
For example, Mr. Weber recommends giving the customer a tracking number but doesn't make it clear how to get one. I'm sure this is idiotically simple to anyone familiar with postal transactions. That's probably why Mr. Weber didn't give a hand-holding description of the process.
I was clueless. I took my first shipment to the post office and asked for a tracking number. The clerk started pulling out forms for costly and complicated types of service and began to spout arcane postal jargon. I couldn't cope with the information overload so I shipped my books without the all-important tracking number.
My next trip I learned that you have to get DELIVERY CONFIRMATION. Look for the small lime-green form. It has a bar code label (with tracking number) that you attach to your parcel.
I could have used some help with book terminology, i.e., the verbiage to put into the "comments" field of your Amazon listing. If you browse the listings, you see myriad descriptive terms. Is there a right or wrong way to list your book? The book does not address the topic.
The book is rife with listings for pricing and inventory software, online postage services, and the hand-held scanners you can use for automated scouting at book sales. It's puzzling that the author would present these listings without commentary regarding which ones he found useful, or if he used them at all.
The author could have summarized how he was able to quit his job in three months and sell books full time. As others have noted, he generously shares precious inside knowledge, so this might not be a valid gripe. Without this book or one like it, the fledgling bookman would have a harder time getting started.
This manual outlines enough of the basics to get you started. I was able to sell a few books before I even finished reading The Home-Based Bookstore, the book that introduced me to selling books online. It popped up on my Amazon recommendations and I thought "Why not give it a shot?"
Within days of buying the book, the local Friends of the Library (FOL) had a "parking lot" sale. I headed for the sale with high anticipation of launching my bookselling empire.
The "sale" turned out to be a disturbing mob scene. The books are piled into several plastic shopping carts. Scanner-wielding book vendors paw through them frantically, pushing and shoving to gain the advantage. They are like vultures attacking a carcass. A few books spill out of the carts and are left on the ground. Within minutes, the vendors skulk off to their corners to guard their booty.
The Friends of the Library are selling books on Amazon. They have rightly already culled any books of real value. The books causing the frenzy apparently are the dregs the Friends don't want to bother with. They are offered at the parking lot sale for 10 cents to 25 cents, however. If you're not shy about mixing it up with other booksellers, you can make money at a sale like this. That's what one of the vendors told me. All of the vendors were women at this sale, so the risk of a brawl breaking out might actually be low.
I can't imagine myself joining a mob scene, so I all but gave up on getting inventory this way. I had plenty of extra books from my own collection, so I decided to use Amazon to clear some space on my bookshelf. Opening an account and setting up your listings is easy as pie. Within a few minutes you are in business.
I listed books from $3.29 up to $65.00 depending on the lowest price showing. The next day my prices were undercut by other vendors. I retaliated with price cuts of my own. They responded with further cuts, and so on. I eventually stopped cutting my price. The other vendors have (Cyberdyne) robotic software that cuts their prices automatically. The book I listed for $3.29 was later listed for a penny, the result of a regressive bidding war between the robots.
I figured $3.29 was my bookshelf-clearing price. If I can't unload a book for $3.29, I'll donate it to the library. Let someone buy it for a dime at the parking lot sale.
I typed the ISBN into the Amazon search screen to gauge the market for each book. When you come up with 1,356 copies starting at a penny, it's safe to say the market is saturated. I ended up with three crates of these marginal books, destined to land on the pavement at the parking lot sale.
Why not sell my leftovers to a used bookstore? The first one I called said no thanks, "we are overwhelmed with inventory right now." The second place I called didn't really want to hear from me but said they might consider taking some books off my hands if they met their stringent requirements, etc. Who needs it? I took my crates to the library and got a nice thank you.
I sold seven books! Amazon's shipping guidelines actually have pictures showing just how you should address your parcels. You can't go wrong. By my second trip to the post office, I was a savvy shipper, even mastering the DELIVERY CONFIRMATION process.
I gave same day or next day service. My books were in good condition and reasonably priced. I wrapped my parcels meticulously. For my labors, I was rewarded with two 5.0 feedbacks from my customers. Bless their hearts!
I'm going to go on Amazon and find an outfit for a hockey goalie, complete with face mask and helmet. I'll use it as battle gear for the next FOL sale. My bookselling competitors won't know what hit 'em.
73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
For the very beginner without internet accessJuly 1 2009
The Green Knight
- Published on Amazon.com
Weber's book is quite short, too general, and tries to include too many categories of information without discussing them in any depth. It's mostly lists: where to sell books, how to package a book, what genres to look for. This sounds like a good thing, but when they are unaccompanied by the thoughtful advice 5 years of experience should bring, they just tell you information you could easily google. Some examples: His inventory sources are fairly obvious, or too much for the beginner who might not want to expend a huge outlay (i.e. money for a lot of 400-800 books). His section on grading repeats information that Amazon gives in their help guide, when it could mention tricky cases -- he doesn't even mention ex-library books, which you'll frequently run into. His information on packaging can be found easily through googling, where you'll find better suggestions. His pricing strategy is to meet the lowest price so he ignores the nuances involved -- for instance, why would you meet the lowest price if that person has an 88% feedback rating? Weber doesn't even address any of these fairly rudimentary exceptions.
When he does give good information it's often too brief or incidental; for instance, his list of genres to pick is this general: WWI books are to be eschewed, but business and financial books are great. Vintage science books all do well. There is no discussion about the nuances or tricks that a seasoned bookseller should be able to impart: when do these categories fail? One major plus is that he's realistic about the money someone will make selling books; there are very few of the details many of this genre include about how you're going to one day find a Fitzgerald first edition and so forth. I appreciated how rarely I saw him mention books he bought for $1 turning around to $200. Instead, his examples talk about turning $1 books into $8-10 sales.
I've been selling for under a month and some basic googling told me almost everything Weber includes. He does have some suggestions for other books to read that look good, but I'd save your money and look elsewhere. For this book, you're paying for a collection of resources rather than a bookseller-mentor's training.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
minimise your costsDec 6 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
Weber offers a good guide to selling books on the Internet. If these are not collectible books, then he suggests correctly that Amazon should be your main choice, with perhaps also having your own website. With the latter, any sales you make don't have to have commissions paid to third parties.
When he says that Amazon might be better than eBay for selling books, these include certain reasons he omitted or perhaps failed to emphasise. On Amazon, you cannot usually upload an image of the item you're selling. This is a great time saver if you have thousands of books to sell. Whereas on eBay, for competitive reasons, you often have to have an image. It's been found that on eBay, this makes a measurable difference in sales. Also, on Amazon, they take payment directly from the buyer. On eBay, there is a lot of hassle about you dealing directly with the buyer, especially if she wants to send you a personal check etc etc. So in terms of time saved, Amazon is far better.
Weber mentions using a tracking number, even though this is not required. In part, because if the book never supposedly gets to the buyer, you use the tracking number as evidence of shipping, and so Amazon won't deduct the refund from your account, if Amazon decides to refund the buyer. But the tracking number or a certificate of mailing is a waste of money. As Weber stresses, you have to watch your costs. The certificate of mailing is 90c. Saving this in each of your sales adds up. What you can do is mail a bunch of books by just media rate and keep the receipt. It shows the post codes of the buyers and that the items were media rate. Then, you email all the buyers in one message, saying their books were mailed. If a buyer later says she didn't get it, you scan your receipt and email it to her. Pointing out her post code and those of other buyers. Plus, she has the emails of those buyers, from your original message. She can email them, to see if they got their books. Finally, if she demands a refund, you can email the receipt to Amazon and argue that it is strong circumstantial evidence that you mailed her book.
Another saving occurs when shipping to buyers in Alaska or Hawaii. Weber suggests using priority mail, because media mail takes weeks. But anyone living in those states should be well aware of this fact. You should just send by media mail.
Yet another saving is in the packaging of the book. Weber suggests several possibilities, like a padded bag. Typically, those can be bought in packs of 10 for about 85c each. There is a much better way. You can buy a box of 100 manila A4 envelopes for 5c per envelope. Most books will fit into this size of envelope. Use newspaper to wrap the book. (You can get free newspapers in many cities.) Then seal down both ends of the envelope with strong tape. The cost of packaging can be brought to 7-8c per book. A huge saving compared to 85c per book for a padded bag.