Saturday, April 25, 2009

A New Beginning

Today is the Grand Opening of Buy the BOOK in its new home!

I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I was a teenager, I tried to start businesses doing custom calligraphy, embroidery, even selling hand-typed lists of the Billboard top 40 (in the days before computers). None of these really went anywhere. As an adult, I've been successful with day jobs in both selling and marketing (though I far prefer marketing) but always for someone else.

I launched my ebay bookstore on May 7, 2005, when both sun and moon were in the sign of Taurus (today, April 25, is also a Taurus/Taurus day). Yes, I know a little about astrology, just enough to be dangerous. Moon in Taurus is supposed to start a business out on the right foot, and I figured sun in Taurus couldn't hurt. Little did I know that summer is slow in the book business. But that's ok. If I had started during a busier time, I would have been disappointed when business fell off. This way, I was pleasantly surprised when it picked up.

I started out selling duplicates from paperback book lots I bought on ebay to read. As I learned more about the book business, I started investing in better books--collectible hardcovers, signed books, and new releases straight from the publishers. I started out with the philosophy to buy books I would want to read so that if no one else bought them, at least I could enjoy them. But I still stock things I like because it seems to attract people I enjoy, and how great is that? If you're reading this, it's probably because we have similar taste in books.

I think most people are aware that ebay has implemented a lot of changes lately. The painful one was doubling selling fees for books to 15%. In addition though, they are marginalizing elements of branding and individuality in favor of giving buyers a uniform and neutral buying experience. That's not what I want to do.

Do you remember the scene in My Fair Lady when Henry Higgins is up on the ladder to reach the tallest shelves in his library? Or the dance in the library in the Music Man? Since I was a kid, I wanted a library with polished wood shelves to the high ceilings, ladders on wheels and comfy leather chairs to read in. I can tell you what the room smells like and describe the view out the window. Books and reading are full-sensory things to me, and I try to provide as much of that as possible in my store.

I have always received high marks for describing my books in detail because that's important to me as a book lover. I've learned to avoid certain sources for books because there's just no telling what you're going to get--and yes, you can send it back, but what a hassle!

I never quite got the movie-set library, but I do have my grandmother's old rocking chair and over a hundred linear feet of bookshelf space spread around the house. My husband and my two teenage daughters and I live in a big Spanish style house with lots of storage for my inventory, so in a way I did get the library I always wanted--it just doesn't look quite like I imagined it.

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