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Libraries as Entrepreneurial Booksellers: Counterintuitive Cha-Ching


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Libraries as Entrepreneurial Booksellers: Counterintuitive Cha-Ching

Bill Kane, Alibris

Walter Sears, Better World Books

Libraries have actually been selling books for centuries, but only with the advent of Internet technologies in the past decade have libraries been able to easily reach a worldwide audience of motivated book buyers. With just a few clicks, libraries are turning leftover booksale books, discards, de-accessions, and unwanted donations into real money – money which can be relatively seamlessly converted back into acquisitions/collection development funds, extending otherwise shrinking budgets.

Among other such bookselling sites, has created real-time turnkey user interfaces for both buyers and sellers, enabling libraries to upload listings very quickly, at nominal cost. Literally millions of local, regional, national, and international book buyers can thus peruse libraries’ for-sale inventory (alongside millions of other books, granted), ideally resulting in quick sales, almost all of which is almost always pure profit.

In addition, and likewise among other organizations of their ilk, Better World Books has devised mutually profitable services allowing libraries to off-load not only their books, but also most of the work involved in selling, as well as — via its donation programs — any latent guilt involved in exchanging unwanted books for money.

Finally, there are still other innovative ways for libraries to earn some per-click commissions by pointing patrons from a book on the library’s shelf (or just in the catalog) to another copy of the book on a bookseller’s for-sale shelves – and by “selling” books thus, affiliate links may pay off in more ways than just mutual goodwill.

Two speakers – librarians from both and Better World Books – will have 20 minutes each to discuss their respective programs and services, including real-time online demonstrations of bookselling and donation operations and metrics, leaving time for questions and/or testimonials. Download the first presentation and second presentation.

William P. Kane is Account Manager for Alibris for Libraries

Walter Sears is Director of Library Division for Better World Books

Published in: Education
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Libraries as Entrepreneurial Booksellers: Counterintuitive Cha-Ching

  1. 1. Libraries as Entrepreneurial Booksellers: Counterintuitive Cha-Ching Roselle Agner Better World Books
  2. 2. Agenda Introductions Let’s get to know each other Online Book Sales Listing & Shipping & Questions, oh my! Outsourcing Move over IT, here comes Acquisitions Q&A You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers
  3. 3. Introductions: Audience
  4. 4. Online Marketplaces Auction Marketplace List any item, based on a listing name created by its seller for an open auction.,, Yahoo!Auctions Catalog Marketplace List catalog items for sale (i.e. books, cds, dvds, etc.) based on their unique catalog numbers (i.e. isbn or upc) at a set price.,
  5. 5. Marketplaces Considerations Size Number of Categories Listing Options Popularity Are you familiar with this site? Costs What are the costs associated with selling/buying on this site? Competition Multiple Sellers Multiple Listings
  6. 6. Marketplaces Considerations Search Features It is easy to find items? Reputation Is this site known for certain types of items? Seller Rating-Buyers feedback from previous transactions Condition Rating-Overall condition of the item Payment Check, Credit Card, Money Order, etc Shipping Are there any shipping requirements for the buyer/seller? Standard, Expedited, Consolidated
  7. 7. Online Book Sales Sorting Researching Listing Picking Shipping Returning Customer Service
  8. 8. Outsource! Let someone do the work for you!
  9. 9. What’s involved? Your job Their job: Sort Sorting Pack Researching Ship Listing Picking Shipping Returning Customer Service
  10. 10. Show me the $$$! A percentage of net proceeds are payable to the library. Net proceeds are defined as the sale price of the book minus any market place commissions and reimbursements.
  11. 11. Sign me up I have tons to send!! Acceptance Guidelines Some are more specific than others (type, volume, condition, etc) Basic Guideline: Send what you would buy Sorting and Prescreening Tools Help determine which books to send Continue to have multiple revenue generating projects
  12. 12. Discarded and Donated Material… ACCEPTABLE  Books that are in saleable condition • no water damage, mildew/mold, missing pages, spine damage, etc.  hardcover fiction/non-fiction  Textbooks (1998 or newer)  travel books (2003 or newer)  dictionaries  trade paperbacks  DVDs & Books on CD  Mass Market Paperbacks  rare/collectible books
  13. 13. Discarded and Donated Material… ACCEPTABLE  Ex-Library Books Markings on the Spine Stickers Labels Due Date Cards Stamps Plates Etc.
  14. 14. Discarded and Donated Material… NOT ACCEPTABLE  Complete or Incomplete Encyclopedia Sets  Magazines/Periodicals/Academic Journals  Catalogs/Directories/Desk Reference Books  Tax Documents/ Government Documents  Volume Serials  Reader’s Digest Books  LP Records, VHS, Cassettes, or CDs  The Following Series:  Book Club Editions  Harlequin Romance Novels  The Modern Library Series  Reader’s Digest Condensed  Marquis Who’s Who
  15. 15. Additional Services Online Sidewalk Sales Affiliate Programs Antiquarian, Rare & Collectable Processing Book Drive Fundraisers Marketing and PR Support
  16. 16. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions What’s important to your library? Costs? Flexible Options? Social and Environmental Impact? Find a service that best meets your needs and those of your library