How can a book seller stand out from the crowd?

A Terrific Reply from Paul Young of

In another posting on Bookshop Blog (Desperately Seeking Synopsis) the question was asked about putting the synopsis of a book in listings. Why do it for every book? It was stated that all buyers really want is the condition of the book, price and some shipping info. Surely there are buyers out there that are looking only for the best deal or the quickest shipping. My daughter gets a book assigned for her schooling, she only wants a readable copy and that quickly, so I do understand this line of thinking.

That said, I do think it very important for a bookseller to put in a synopsis. Even just a few short words telling what the book is about. Go through one of’s pages on just about any book and there are dozens of competitors out there that have the same description. Most say nothing about the contents of the book. Just the condition. Without a synopsis yours would be just tossed into the mix with them. How will yours stand out? A few extra words will do the trick.

I mainly do it for the search engines. How many other books for sale out there just like yours that say, “VG/DJ” with no words or means for the search engines to latch onto the listing? Most of those go to the end of the queue…

If you have a book on book collecting and those words are not in the title why not put it in the description in sentence form? Throw in a few adjectives while you are at it. “Wonderful book on book collecting by an author that was highly aclaimed in his day.” I chose that subject because…

I have at hand: “A Magnificent Farce” by A. Edward Newton. (1921 second impression)

I did a quick Google search – “Book Collecting” farce – (with quotes) and comes up in the top number one position. I click on the link and find the book is sold. Hmmmm. I wonder why? Suppose a prospective customer did not remember the title and that, or something similar is what they typed in.

Bookmaven’s website has search by category and I check out some other books on book collecting. Each and every one of them has an extensive description that, as shown through my initial search, puts it higher up in the Search engine optimization (SEO). I check the Google cache on the book and find Bookmaven also did the same with A Magnificent Farce. Some time was spent on this listing which paid off with a sale. (while I’m in the cache I can see the selling price to better price my book for sale)

Plus they buyer feels better about buying from a seller that cares and the only way they can tell if you are a book lover or a big box wannabe is through the description. I’ve had buyers write and tell me they could have bought the book for less elsewhere but they liked my description. One buyer said it added value to the book.

A quick synopsis does pay off in the end but spending too much time in writing it decreases the pay off. It is important to not get caught up in the search for an elusive synopsis when a quick perusal of a few pages can give one fresh info that other reviewers might not have.

6 thoughts on “How can a book seller stand out from the crowd?”

  1. When I was selling books online, I always put in a synopsis or at least a few words on the topic of the book. I buy books to read them (I like 1880s/1890s books), and if I’ve found you through a search and I’m looking around to see what else you have to offer, I don’t want to have to go elsewhere to see a description of your books!

    • Excellent point Marguerite. Having a customer go to a different website is as good as a lost sale. Sometimes I also, when appropriate, put it a line about WHY a person should purchase a particular book such as, “Makes a great gift” or a mention of the cover art.

      Part of salesmanship is selling and even if your suggestion does not strike a chord with the potential buyer it just might get them to think of their own personal reason to purchase.

  2. I am an author and also the producer of book video trailers. A book video trailer is essentially a video synopsis. Though many books are indeed judged by their cover; it is the back cover, or inside flap that does the heavy lifting. A book video trailer essentially takes that information combined with appropriate graphic images to peak the interest of the potential reader. You can click on my website link here to see some examples.

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