May 11 2006
This week I received a phone call from a very nice gentleman that sells books as a hobby. His desire is to have a web site to sell his small collection of books (a very small collection. He admitted to not having much knowledge on how all of this works and the costs. I think many of us have hobbies that we consider one time or another in developing a web site (at least I do) such as art, photography, jewelry to name a few. He also wanted to show up on the search engines (don’t we all).
My recommendations to this gentleman with his very small (and I mean small) collection of books follows. The book business as you may or may not know especially on the internet is VERY competitive. But, there are many avenues out there for getting your inventory on the internet quickly without maintaining a web site. For books and many other products, Amazon offers what they call Z-shops. For a monthly fee you actually have your own store on Amazon that you can refer people to, http://www.amazon.com/shops/niteowl. How many people know about these shops on Amazon? This I have often wondered.
What is the advantage to selling books on Amazon or with an eBay Store. If you have never sold anything on the internet before it is a good way to get your feet wet and determine if this is what you want to do. Amazon handles all the billing and communications. Rarely do you communicate with the buyers. They do have a listing fee, only charged when you sell a book, and they take a commission. Therefore part of your profits are going to Amazon for their service, but where else are you going to get the traffic they can provide, billing service (no credit card fees), easy listing tools.
As a small bookseller your chances of getting found on the search engines are relatively slim for such a competitive category. Maybe check out some of the portals that are offered, like Yahoo Stores and get started with one them as your hobby grows. Doing business on the internet is not cheap and you will find yourself spending more time and money developing a web site rather than supporting your hobby, when you can have immediate sales gratification.
Still not convinced? Then list your items in two areas, start building your dream web site, but also have a store with an outside vendor. When you make a sale, slip a little note to your buyer with the item giving them information about your web site. Save their email addresses and start building a data base for email newsletters. Who knows before you know it your hobby may be the next AMAZON!