In a previous post I mentioned a Booksellers’ Boot Camp I’d read about where sellers of antiquarian and secondhand books learnt so much about the antiquarian and secondhand book trade. Some of the topics they learn about are:
I read this article with great interest and a lot of envy, I couldn’t help thinking how different the industry in Australia would be if we had a conference of this nature so I did some research online and I found the Australian Booksellers Association have some training and it looks really useful information. They teach things such as Loss Prevention, Helping Your Team to Help You, How to Set Standards For Your Team and Making Money From Kids (no, not stealing from children but learning about children’s literature), as well as having a whole host of networking opportunities, a Trade Exhibition and so much more. I did some more research and found nothing for antiquarian and secondhand booksellers and certainly nothing for online booksellers. All of the information I know about pre-loved books I’ve learnt on-the-job.
When I find a new website the first thing I do after I’ve signed up and had a good look around is to check out the forum and see what people are saying, a busy forum can be a good sign of a good website, or it can be a bad sign if everything is negative. I generally head straight to any part of the forum that has a vague mention of books, I’m sure there’s a reason but it escapes me just now. Anyway, this particular website was eBay, a website that needs no advertising from me so I hope our editor won’t link to them. This is where I got my start with selling books. I’d sold my old electronic diary through there and got a much higher price than I’d expected so I was wasting a bit of time trawling listings when I found some magazines for sale and I just happened to have them on my shelf. I looked at them and thought about the money and the magazines and the money and the magazines, eventually the money won and I listed them. I spent my time selling magazines and reading the forums, eventually finding something I wanted to say.
The books board (as we call it, although it’s supposed to be for books, music and sport, is almost entirely composed of book people) was full of very knowledgable and friendly people who were perfectly happy to share their knowledge and advise about prices and listing tips. They accepted me as one of their own despite my lack of knowledge and experience and they taught me so much, they also accepted me when the Melbourne people decided to meet up for the lunch for the first time. It was a lovely afternoon and we spent the entire time talking about eBay and books, we still meet occasionally and most of the conversation is about books and selling online as most of us now have our own websites.
One of the problems with being on a forum such as the eBay one is that the moderation is fairly strict and there are certain areas we’re not able to talk about. We’re also not able to talk about the price we’ve paid for our books as it’s not good form for the customers to know this kind of information, they tend to get upset if they find out we’ve paid 50c for a book when they’ve just paid us $200 for it, it tends to leave a bitter taste in their mouths. We’ve had a couple of false starts and thanks to one of our number we now have a forum we can call home where we can talk to our hearts content about the topics that matter, such as pricing, what we’ve paid, websites and all sorts of other things.
I just wonder, though, if it would be a good idea to have a Secondhand Booksellers Bootcamp in Australia. There are so many things still to learn and while some of them are similar to the things taught by the Australian Booksellers Association, there are tricks of the trade that are not used by those selling new books. I can’t help wondering how this would change the industry, I’m not going to speculate, but I do ask for comments here. Do you want a Secondhand Booksellers Bootcamp in Australia? What would you want to learn at one? How much would you expect to pay? There are actually more questions than I have answers for as some of the questions would include whether we also need a roof body similar to the Australian Booksellers Association or whether they’d be able to take on the task of such a bootcamp, or indeed, how do they view online sellers of secondhand books?
[editor’s note: Our friends at Bookthink.com have an excellent article describing the Bookseller’s Seminar in Colorado]
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