Avalina, collector and owner of Chelsea Village Bookshop on Abebooks.com and Amazon.com

Avalina found my first web site, book-collecting-tips.com in 2009.  In early 2010 she volunteered to help me research and input information about books into a data base.  The results show up as ratings you see on a page of this web site.  This has been a great help to me and allowed me more time to devote to developing this site.

Avalina not only started collecting books last year but has now been selling books for over a year.  She has acquired a great deal of information and experience in the short time she has been selling.

The following was put together based on her e-mails to me:

Marketplace – Abebooks vs. Amazon

I started on Amazon but I didn’t like the fact that I could not list my firsts and signed copies in the collectible section without being approved.  Since I had no experience they would not give me approval.  (ABE is owned by Amazon.)

So, I switched to ABE.  After selling there a while, I requested approval from Amazon again to list in the collectible section and was approved.  I listed some of my better books there, but it was a hassle inputting into HomeBase for ABE and then adding books directly into Amazon.

That’s when ABE’s Channel Program came along and so I went with that.

Some things to think about:

Everybody on ABE’s Bookseller Forum says you must be on Amazon.

If you can’t get approved to list in Amazon’s collectible section, you’re going to be listed with all those books listed for one cent.  You probably have a good chance of getting approved because you can refer Amazon to your (Bob’s) websites.  But, I don’t think it’s as easy to get lost on ABE.

If you do list on Amazon, beware that if you are not in the collectible section there is nowhere to enter first edition or signed, so make sure to put it in the comments section.

ABE Channel Program

The ABE Channel Program is where you list your books on ABE and they are automatically sent to Amazon.  Be aware that you will be paying fees to ABE and Amazon, but it makes it much easier.  Also, since I offer free shipping on ABE and the shipping costs are built into the price of the book, when I sell an Amazon books they give me $3.99 for shipping so that offsets the other  fees depending on the price of the book.

I joined the Channel Program at the start when it was still in the pilot phase.  At that time, you had to be selling on ABE for at least six months and have earned a five star rating.

Maintaining a five star rating on ABE is a lot easier than other websites because of the way they establish the rating system.  It is not based on buyer feedback, it’s based on returns and unfulfilled orders.  Everybody starts out with four stars and then you work your way up or down based on their system.

  • At this point the Channel Program is open to only U. S. booksellers, although they plan on opening it up to other countries at some time the future.
  • You must be an ABE Bookseller at least six months and have an 95% completion rate (five stars).  Sign an agreement with ABE and an agreement with Amazon.  If you have a current Amazon account you have to cancel it.
  • You must agree to price parity.  You cannot charge a different price for the same book.  This does not apply to shipping.  As always, ABE lets you set your own shipping rates and Amazon gives you $3.99.
  • Your books are listed under the ABE name, although your own seller name is mentioned in smaller print.
  • Amazon feedback is given to the ABE account and not the individual sellers.
  • ABE orders are processed BEFORE shipping.  Amazon orders are processed AFTER shipping.  So it can be a little confusing.
  • There is a code you can use to exclude listings from Amazon.  When you upload your listings to ABE they will exclude those you do not wish to include on Amazon.
  • Amazon does not include the edition field from Homebase.  So, I always include “first edition/first printing” in the comments section.
  • About 50% of my sales come from Amazon since joining the Channel Program.

Where Avalina Finds Books

It took me a while to find my favorite spots to look for books.  My best luck has been at the Re-Use Center and Library Bookstores. I still go to some library sales, but I haven’t been lucky and don’t enjoy the big rush.  I’m more of a browser.  I went to the Chelsea library sale a couple of weeks ago and only got two books.  I’ve been to a couple of on-line seller’s garage sales and  picked up some good deals because I don’t think most on-line sellers can identify first editions.  I’ve even picked up signed copies because most sellers that use scanners never even open the book.

It’s taken me almost a year to get up to an inventory of 500.   I think being close to Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, really helps me.  I know the students probably don’t buy new novels, but the University of Michigan is huge and I think the faculty and staff buy books, read once and donate them.

Scoutpal

No, I don’t use ScoutPal for three reasons.  First, I don’t see how it’s possible for a scanner to identify a first edition and I sell mostly first editions.  As you know, that can make all the difference in the world when it comes to price.  It also won’t tell you if it’s signed and what condition it’s in.

Second, I don’t find it enjoyable to scan and grab.  Part of the fun is the “browsing”.

Third, I think you’re stuck if it doesn’t have an ISBN number.  I do have a Blackberry and check the prices with that.  All depends on the price of the book.  If I’m in a hurry and only paying 50 cents, I might not check prices at all.  But, if I’m paying $2.00 for a book I usually check the price.

Everybody has their own business model and I don’t fault people that use scanners.  Unemployment is high here in Michigan and while I’m just fooling around, some people are trying to feed their families.

Inventory Management

I use the free “Homebase” program which is down loadable from ABE.  I’ve read about other database programs on ABE’s Bookseller Forum.  Many people complain about Homebase, but  there are a bunch of whiners on the Forum.  Home Base works fine for my needs, but I’m not a computer whiz.

If selling on ABE, I would suggest you get a number of books into your database before actually starting as a bookseller because you’re going to pay $25 a month whether you have one or 499 books for sale. ABE’s $25 monthly fee is a bitter pill to swallow if you don’t many books listed.


Pricing Books

I try not to buy anything that won’t sell for at least $10, but I’ve made mistakes and I have many listed for less.  By the time I pay for commissions, shipping, tracking and packaging it all adds up.  I really don’t understand how people list books for a penny.

My average price right now is $14.69 and my highest priced book is $150.  I’m still learning and just having fun.  My goal is to be able to supplement my income when I retire in 10 years.

I’m always amazed when I read ABE’s Bookseller Forum.  People talk about being little dealers because they only have 5,000 books and others discuss their huge storage units.  I’m such a little fish in a very big pond!  I didn’t sell a book for 11 days and then sold three in the last 24 hours.

My sales were great in August, but very slow so far this month (September).  This will be my first holiday season, so I’m anxious to see how that goes.  I’m hoping that it will be a good time for signed copies.

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