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Bob Holley
Rural Libraries Conference
April 30, 2009
Introduction and

Welcome and introduction
Demographics of the audience
Interest in buying, selling, or both
Are you worried about theft?
Are there other experts in the audience?
This PowerPoint will be posted on the
    Rural Libraries Conference Web site
How I Became Interested in
this Topic

Valuing donations to libraries
High availability of obscure materials
Perceived decline in prices since 2000
Research Funded by LCATS in
Compared buy and sell adds in AB
   Bookman’s Weekly (1982 and 1992)
   with current OP market
95% availability in all four samples
Decline in prices in inflation-adjusted
   dollars (-45%)
Mostly books in humanities, history, and
   social sciences
Same early results in project on science
Broader Implications

Possible decline in publisher sales
Library users will buy their own books if
    cheap enough
  Less wait
  Can mark up
  Can buy from home
  Don’t need to return
Experiences as an OP Book

I sold around 2000 titles last year
Prices from $.75 to $160
I have found rare books at library,
    garage, and rummage sales
Library books sales have been an
    excellent source of stock so that giving
    this talk is against my self interest
Resources for Buying and

The metasearch engines
The individual dealers
Advantages of OP Market
for Buying

95% availability = almost no distinction
    between in-print and out-of-print
Retrospective buying for new collecting
Repurchasing missing books
Lower prices in general
  Many 20th century popular books at $5.00 or
   less including shipping
Advantages of OP Market
for Buying (continued)

Lower prices for libraries that can wait
Purchase as substitute for ILL
  Past use as indication of future use
  Item available for long-term use
  “”Buy not borrow” pilot at Wayne State University
Possible to outsource these purchases
Disadvantages of the OP
Market for Buying

Only Alibris consolidates orders for
    libraries and accepts purchase orders
Strand, Powell’s Books, and Better World
    Books sell from stock
Other sources list books from multiple
  Each purchase is a separate transaction
  Each purchase is shipped individually
Disadvantages of the OP
Market for Buying (continued)

Most often need a credit card or PayPal
    account—no purchase orders
Issues with condition, non-delivery, and
Selling--Book Sales

Public relations and getting people into
   the library
  Frequent on a regular schedule
  Once or twice a year
Book Sales--Pricing

Trade paperbacks often equal in value to
    hard covers
Media depends upon condition
Library can check potentially valuable
Book Sales-Dealers

Ask yourself why you are bothered by
     your best customers
If you are, some strategies are:
  Higher prices at the beginning of the sale
  Preview for members of the Friends group
  Not allowing mobile scanners
Selling on the Internet for

Book sales undervalue many books
Increased revenue
Selling on the Internet for

Time involved in the process
  May be practical only for libraries with “free”
  Can be complicated
  Required constant attention though sellers can go
   “on vacation”
Removes the books from the community
Loses the publicity value of book sales
Local policies may prohibit such sales
Storage space
Using an Intermediary

Two major firms sell materials and give
    libraries a percentage of the sales
Some restrictions of what they will accept
“Green” disposal of materials
Library can identify “valuable” materials
    and sell remainder at the book sale
The Two Major Sellers

Both actively seek library partners
Better World Books
  Pays shipping
  Lower percentage of sales
  Does not pay shipping
  Higher percentage of sales
  Must have ISBN
Where to Sell on the Internet

 Ebay—limited selling period, listing fees,
    payment complexities
Sites with easy of entry for relatively few
  —more popular materials, lower
  —higher fees for casual sellers
Where to Sell on the Internet

Sites designed for professional sellers and
    libraries with larger inventories
How to Sell Successfully on
the Internet

Good service in all areas to achieve a high
    feedback rating
Accurate description of condition
Prompt shipping with excellent packaging
Dealing with occasional problems
Statement of non-profit status probably
    makes little difference
What to Sell—General

Search possible candidates on the metasearch
Higher priced items however the libraries
    defines this
  You might also put them aside for the local book
   dealer or to send to the intermediaries
Items with a sales record
Library discards can be sold but are less popular
What to Sell—Subject and
Format (My Opinions)

Mass market paperbacks—no except
    perhaps those in pristine condition
Hard cover fiction—no except if rare or
    currently in high demand
Coffee table books—beautiful but
    impossible to sell if available as
What to Sell—Subject and
Format (continued)

Children’s books—no in general with some
    difficult to identify exceptions
Trade paperbacks—many sell well
    especially those used in college
Textbooks—no in not current; sell
    extremely well if still in use
Religious books--yes
What to Sell—Subject and
Format (continued)

University press books—yes if used in
    courses; otherwise slow movers
Media—depends on format, condition,
    popularity, and scarcity
Rare books—Amazon, Alibris, or perhaps
Final Selling

How to arrange inventory for easy
  By format
  By title, author, or date of listing
Determining when to remove an item
   from sale
Theft and the OP Market

Shelf books and media now have enough
    value to be stolen and sold
Library discards are common in the op
    market though sell for less
Anonymity of sales
Thief can buy a “discard” stamp

Almost all DVD’s
Mobile scanning services
Search ILS from home
General knowledge of the trade
Thefts from the Collection

Many libraries have valuable books on the
    open shelves
Steal the books from the library
False check outs
Interlibrary loan
Pay replacement cost
  Ownership does not transfer
Thefts from the Collection

Employee theft
  Less security including after hours and
         unsecured exits
  Weed the book to be bought later
    Collections expert examine books
Thefts of Gift Books

More valuable on the market
Usually will not be missed
Removed when received or during pick up
Security cameras to inhibit theft or catch

It’s your turn to ask any questions.