Do your books need a vacation?

Part 2 of our 3 Part series on Inventory Management by Nora of Rainy Day Paperback Exchange.

What to do with an under-performing section
Just plain moving it or remodeling it didn’t work, so now you need to bite the bullet and get rid of some books. But how do you actually get rid of them?

Trim it down!
Some sections tend to attract junk books that come to your shop to die. Ideally, don’t take these books in the first place. However, sometimes you’ll end up with stuff sitting around and you’re not sure why it didn’t sell.

After a certain point, this becomes visual noise and actually distracts buyers from finding the books they want. It’s like annoying pop up ads and banners. There’s so much clutter surrounding what they want that buyers give up and go elsewhere.

A good way to weed out books that are pure visual clutter is to date them when they come in. Once they reach their expiration date, heave-ho!

But, I can’t throw out perfectly good books!
It’s especially hard to let go of books if you paid money for them. But sometimes you need to admit it was a bad investment. You wouldn’t keep a stock that had been in the tank for years. But before you send them to the local library sale, you can try these things.

Decrease the price
Stick it on the bargain rack. Some people love bargains and will snap it up BECAUSE it is a bargain when they’d never normally visit that section.

Offloading it at discount on Ebay may also work. Bulk listings are a good way to get rid of boxes of spare books. This may not recoup your investment, but it gets you something.

Increase the price
What? It didn’t sell where it was and now you want me to INCREASE the price?
Yes. Items with higher prices are priced higher because they are rarer and more desirable. The high price in and of itself says: “I am desirable.” Much like people buy designer clothes because of the price, increasing the price and putting it with higher priced, desirable items may make it sell. It becomes a luxury item because it is expensive.

Send it on a nice vacation
If you have a storage area, take it out of the store for a few months. Then bring it back when there’s space in that section. It’s still the same old book, but because it’s had time to fade out of people’s memories, it looks new and exciting.

Online only
If it’s worth listing online but its just cluttering up your store, consider just having it in your online inventory. Wrap it up real nice and stick it in a plastic storage bin where nobody has to see it.

Have a customer appreciation sale
Got an e-mail list? Have a special sale just on the books you want to go away. Tell people this is their last chance to get these gems before they go away forever. Either flag them somehow in your online inventory or if you don’t have a way to do so, export them from your database and dump it into a document that you can attach to the mail.

Make sure to give people a deadline for buying them. It gives a sense of urgency. If they don’t buy right now, they’ll never get a chance!
If you do this, make sure you genuinely get the books out of there by the end of the sale. Fake sales annoy people. Stuff them somewhere else for a week or two for your customers that go “oh, I really meant to get X, but I forgot, you don’t still have it, do you?” They’ll love you for that. After that, really genuinely get them out of there.

Your “competition” is not necessarily your competition. I’m lucky, I have three other dealers within two blocks of me. None of us carry overlapping stock. If you have other local dealers with different specialties, they may be interested in the contents of your under-performing sections. Odds are they have an under-performing section too… and it just may well be one you’re constantly trying to get more stock for. I recently gave the history specialist down the street a box of history books gratis because he could probably sell them. He’ll bring me a box of cheesy romances next time someone dumps a box of ‘em on him. He can’t get his customers to touch them, while mine will gobble them up. We both win.

Related Posts: Part 1 of the Series | How Many Worthless Books in your Inventory?

6 thoughts on “Do your books need a vacation?”

  1. We’ve been with Book Crossing for about three years. It’s a great idea – we’ll do a post on them shortly. Thanks

  2. I realized I forgot one more trick. If you find its not moving in your store or on your general online listings, you may want to try moving it to a specialty listing or auction site.

    For example, if you have animal related stuff, or stuff involving talking animals, you can try moving it on Furbid:
    Or FurBuy:
    Both have free listings.

    Craft and how-to art related books can be listed on in the supplies category. Generally only “how to X” type books seem to fit with listings. Those are .20 a pop and last four months. There’s a 3.5% commission when it sells.

    There’s probably lots of other really, really specific specialty sites you can try.

  3. This part is as good as the first one. As for me “Decrease the price” suits best. I have purchased a lot of books as they were selling cheap.

    “Increase the price” is equally true for many other people.

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