Should All of my Books be in a Database?

Database ALL of it??

Not a day goes by that I don’t hear the question, “do you have any way to look up what books you have in stock?” And as I look out over 3000 sq ft, nearly 50,000 books, I’m always delighted to be able to say, “why yes of course, we have them all in our database!” We can then quickly look up an item by author, title or subject. I also have the option of telling customers who are visiting from out-of-town that they don’t have to be here to shop here – they can search our database and purchase any item we have from the comfort of their home.
Whether you have a couple hundred books in your basement that you sell online part time while you wait for your ship to come in, or 50,000 books in a large brick and mortar location, I think it’s absolutely imperative to have them databased. We started out with about 3000 books fourteen years ago listed on one online venue. Back then we used Homebase, a really nice, very efficient, easy to use database that ABEbooks put out – best of all, it’s free. If all you need is a wonderful way to track your books, this is perfect and it has all the features you want in a good database – with lightening fast speed, and that ‘free’ part is also a big plus.

As the business grew, the book industry changed, we began to upload the database to more and more online venues. Things got a little complicated and the search for something more efficient began. It was a little like the story of Goldilocks, some were too big, some were too small, most were too expensive! Then I met a really nice man at a book sale in Indiana. He wanted the same things we wanted in a great database. The difference between us, he was an amazing computer programmer! So, I signed on with The Art of Books and thus began my love affair with Rodger & Michelle Castle.
The Art of Books is so much more than just a database – it’s a complete book store operation. The database is virtual, so there are no storage issues or files that have to be uploaded daily. If we add or delete a record the system sends that change to all the online venues within a few minutes. The system processes all our orders from the various venues – Amazon, Alibris, Barnes & Noble, Valore, Biblio, Ebay,, our business website ( and several others. It removes any sold items from all the listings. The system tracks our inventory & sales histories. It’s easy to use, and can be customized to fit any company’s particular needs. One of my favorite features is the link to Endicia – the company we use to print our postage for shipping. It’s a simple click of a button or two and the system creates a file with all the postage specifications – media mail, priority, tracking etc… and zip! ~ beautiful, professional address labels with the postage printed on them are done in seconds.
I feel very strongly that if the small, independent bookstore is going to survive and be profitable we have to sell on the internet as well as having our brick and mortar locations. Companies like The Art of Books, Basil, Filz and several others are making it so much easier for booksellers to be global enterprises from their little towns. The internet is allowing us to maintain that cozy, welcoming, beloved bookstore while still being able to pay the bills.
Judy Riggs
Page Master Used Books
904 John Marshall Hwy
Front Royal, VA 22630

[editor’s note: here is a little review I wrote about The Art of Books, we also recommend Basil software]

This is Judy’s first post with us – first of many we hope…

3 thoughts on “Should All of my Books be in a Database?”

  1. Hi Judy and welcome to The Bookshop Blog,

    Fabulous stuff. I’ll have to look at it and see how it works with my shopping cart. If it’s compatible then it’s going to be a must have. I’ve also been looking for the perfect database and feel a database is imperative in any operation.

  2. I love it. The web has advanced our marketing methods and market space so that we are not confined to the local neighborhood, or city we live in. There was a day when the only way to run a business was to compete only with those around you. Now through the web we compete with the world and what is better is we can provide our services to the world.

    I love the fact that you recognized the duality of your existence. When it comes to books people love the older decor with oak shelves, and the smell of leather and dust in the air, and yet you can push your products with high tech across the web. Live the dream!

  3. We’ve only been in the used mass market fiction paperback exchange business since 1993, have had 3 stores at one time, and are now down to one, which is doing great. A year ago, we decided that we needed a database too. First, we bought Basil, but didn’t like having to be online to do business; who can insure that it will Always work? So, we went with UBIC, and it works great for us! They send us monthly updates for new books that download very fast. While we don’t sell online, lots of their other users do. Our customers think that buying a book from us for $1.50 is cheaper, and faster, than buying online. I agree. We tried it for a while, but it wasn’t cost effective for us – too much time spent.

    UBIC also keeps track of all the customer’s credit, addresses and emails, and there is no cash register involved, just a receipt printer. One of the things I like best is that it will print out a report of the books sold that you have more of; so, you can restock the shelves very easily. Many more things I like and use, but you find out more info at:

    Good Luck to all!
    Book Place, San Diego

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