When we left off, I had just posted my letter to the Bilbiophile Email List and gone to bed, wondering if it would be scorned, ignored, or welcomed. When I awoke the next morning, I found about 25 different responses in my box, their answers a range of contradictions.
I got responses such as:
“Do you want to know the best way to make a million dollars in the book business? Start with two million!”
“Remember, the average bookseller is backwards looking, lacking in business common sense, and a herd follower.”
“Ebay is great. I make a living off of selling books on Ebay.”
“I would stay away from Ebay.”
“The internet is killing bookselling.”
“There are as many ways to make it work as there are booksellers.”
“Usually I tell folks to lie down until the feeling goes away….if the feeling DOESN’T go away….well then you’re sunk. Welcome to a life of joy and suffering.”
and, at last, to my relief, a missive that began:
“Welcome, bookseller.” (Bookseller! They think I’m a bookseller!)
But the best thing I got from all of the responses, some quite detailed, was not just the messages outlining pricing methodologies, customer development, and scouting techniques. The best thing I got was regular contact with lots of other booksellers, including Mr. Z., who ultimately became a mentor as I started my business. If you’re just getting started, it is imperative that you meet and cultivate relationships with other booksellers. If no other booksellers live near you geographically, lists like the Bibliophile Group can be a real lifeline.
All for now. See you in the stacks!
Tomorrow: Tom and Huck