Monday, April 28, 2014

Sourcing Your Sources

I wish I could be your only source for bargain books. I send you lists of tens of thousands of titles, indicating which titles you have ordered from me in the past, which are new arrivals received since your last order or within the last month or week, which are hot sellers at the moment, or if you have told me you prefer short, targeted lists, I send you those. If you bought certain authors more than others I will find books by them in the warehouse and send lists of those to you, or tell you about them one at a time. I send you lists based on your strongest categories, or search criteria you send me, or your location, or events you have coming up in the future. I try to make myself your go-to guy for all your bargain book needs. 

I also want you to be the best bookseller with the best bookstore for your customers. Do you know how many sources for bargain books there are out there? I don't. I guess, all told, it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000. It seems that whenever I am out visiting bookstores, there is a carton in one of their receiving areas from some bargain book company that I have never heard of. I ask and am told that, of course, it's so-and-so, she used to own xyz, then she went off and started this company. The tone is such that of course I would also remember xyz, which I don't. 

Different sources have different strengths and weaknesses. Some might have wonderful niche material, some might be all-mint all the time, some might carry the best publishers for literary fiction. Some have terrific customer service while they suffer on selection, but you buy from them anyway because they have really low minimums and make themselves easy to work with. Some have horrible customer service and agonizingly slow ship times, but such amazing inventory that you can't afford to skip them. Some have great web sites, while others seem to hide their best stuff from everybody in the business other than gas stations and shoe stores. Some hold your feet to the fire unless you buy their "best" stuff, which is super-annoying until you realize they were right all along, their "best" stuff is actually the best stuff, and you start listening to them on every recommendation. Some are located in far away places and the orders take months to arrive and you have to convert the currency before paying the bill, but your favorite customer, which happens to be the cooking school down the street, just can't get enough of that one cookbook they always have in stock, so you can't stop ordering from them. It's endless.

You probably don't have time to order from 1000 bargain vendors. You might not have time to order from 20. The point is, you should try to mix it up as much as you can and put the best and greatest variety possible into your bargain selections. As I have repeated many times in this blog, one of bargain's biggest strengths is how it widens your selection and appeal. New arrivals keep your customers interested and coming back for more, and the more varied the sources the better.

All those nice things I said in the first paragraph of this post, about how I can tailor my lists to fit your needs, are true, I do these things for customers that ask for it. I can keep lists of your search terms, titles, subjects or authors you are always looking for. When they show up on any of my lists, or even if I see them elsewhere, I will let you know. 

Yes, this is yet another shameless plug for my business, but also a plug for every source in the bargain wholesale industry. They can all be a resource if you just know how to work with them and make them work for you. In order for me to stay in business I need you to stay in business, and to be a happy buyer of bargain books, and for that to happen you really should be buying far and wide.*

*(But mostly from me.)

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