How to increase your sales by 2085%

A common question we get from booksellers on Biblio (or ABAA or IOBA) is: “how can I increase my sales?”

For years we’ve given four solid tips that we know from experience work incredibly well for bookseller.  Many booksellers have taken us up on these tips and do quite well as a result.  Still others seem to be either unwilling to take advantage of them, or dubious as to how much they can really help (because they do take a little work).  So, we thought we’d deliver some hard, cold data to convince the skeptics that these things are very well worth doing.

Methodology

(or, you’re welcome to jump down to the part where we say how to increase your sales by 2085%)

We took a sample of 22,000 orders from earlier this summer (to avoid seasonality from college textbook season or the holidays), and analyzed them.  The following results give some idea of how powerful these suggestions can be – even to the point that they surprised us!  Our methodology is pretty simple, where we look at the percentage of overall inventory that has the characteristic mentioned vs the percentage of books sold that also have that characteristic.  Not perfect, but we don’t pretend to be Cambridge scientists, either.

Meet The Skeptical Shelf

For fun, we’re going to use the fictional bookseller, The Skeptical Shelf to whom we’ll apply our sales makeover.  The Skeptical Shelf is a very average bookseller in all respects.  They have about 3,000 books in their inventory and do nothing more on their listings than good descriptions and uploading them.  They currently sell about $1000 a month worth of inventory on Biblio.

Results

Adding photos

Adding photos to your listings is a powerful way to convince customers to purchase your book on Biblio.  Biblio’s site is particularly visually oriented in this way, more so than most of our competitors.  As a result, photos are extremely important to customers on Biblio.  Books with photos are 24.5% more likely to sell than their less fair counterparts.

The Skeptical Shelf starts adding photos to their listings, and the result is now $1245 a month in sales.

Mapping catalogs to Biblio’s catalogs

Making sure that you’ve “mapped” your own catalogs (and, of course, that you’re using catalogs in your inventory!) to Biblio’s is another hugely important thing.  While it takes a few minutes time investment to set it up, that’s mostly a one-time investment, and you shouldn’t need to mess with it again unless you add new catalogs to your own listings that need to be mapped.  Books that are mapped into Biblio’s catalogs are 48.2% more likely to sell than those that are not.

The Skeptical Shelf maps their catalogs, and their sales go up to $1845.

Use the “on sale” tools

Put select items from your inventory on sale on BiblioBooks put on sale on Biblio are 167.9% more likely to grab a customer’s eye (and wallet).

The Skeptical Shelf creates some engaging book sales and adds their books to them, and their sales go up to $3335 a month.

Put books in the rare book room.

Books in the rare book room are… hold on to your dust jackets… 555.1% more likely to sell then their counterparts languishing in the “ordinary” results.  If you’ve got good inventory (and we know you do!), you’re completely missing out if you’re not putting everything over $100 in the appropriate rare book room.

The Skeptical Shelf puts their books in the rare book room and revels in seeing their sales on Biblio move up to $21,850.

Really!?!

Ok, before somebody throws the book at me, I admit The Skeptical Shelf’s story is merely a clever fiction.  But aren’t all allegories?  Clearly nobody’s likely to move their sales by 2085% on Biblio simply by taking advantage of these options.  It is statistically possibly, perhaps…. but not likely.

That said, we’ve seen many real-life booksellers who have successfully employed the strategies above, and as a result increase their sales on Biblio, often by a factor of 4 or 5 times their “pre-makeover” sales.   Every bookseller is different, and some may not see the same gains in sales (some may see more, too), but nearly all will see some gain.

While we don’t think that the Skeptical Bookshelf can expect to see their sales vault to $22k a month on Biblio, it might be reasonable to see their sales increase from $1k a month to $4-5k a month by adding photos to most of their listings (say $20 and up), mapping all their categories, actively creating engaging “book sales” and making sure all of their inventory $100 and up is properly assigned to a rare book room.

We’ve got more proven things to recommend, but at risk of overstaying our welcome on your screen, we’ll save those for later and be back again another time with more tips to improve your online book sales.  Hasta luego!

Raw numbers, based on our sample of 22,000 orders:

  • Books with photos represent 5.74% of listed inventory, but 7.15% of inventory sold.
  • 6.24% of all books are mapped into Biblio’s catalogs.  9.09% of books that sell on Biblio are mapped into Biblio’s catalogs.
  • Books actively on sale represent 0.42% of listed inventory, but 1.11% of inventory that sells on Biblio.
  • 0.03% of inventory is in a rare book room, but 0.20% of sales are for books listed in the rare book room.


This entry was written by and posted on August 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm, filed under For Booksellers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink

17 Responses to “How to increase your sales by 2085%”

  1. RareNonFiction.com

    Hi Brendan:

    Despite the bad reputation enjoyed by ‘statistics’, I found this an informative and engaging piece.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  2. Rush4Books

    all of my books are first editions. some of them are very valuable. some are not so valuable but they are always in condition stated

    Reply
  3. Imragnar1

    Hi Brendon,

    Truth to tell, I don’t have the foggiest idea how to put pictures of books on the internet. If you can give me some ideas where to start, I’ll give it a try. I have a digital camera, I just don’t understand how to get the picture from the camera to the ad.

    Thank You Brendon,
    Imragnar1
    A 65 yr. old book dealer willing to learn new tricks.

    Reply
    • Stephen

      “I have a digital camera, I just don’t understand how to get the picture from the camera to the ad.”

      As long as you can get the photos from your camera to your computer, getting them to Biblio is easy!

      Probably the easiest way to get started with photos is to use Biblio’s on site. You can use the ‘Search inventory’ link in the “ADD OR EDIT INVENTORY” box in your BiblioDirect bookseller menu– OR — you can login to your Biblio bookseller account and search your inventory on Biblio.com, just the way your customers do. Either way, as long as you are logged into your Biblio bookseller account, you have on site options to Edit or Add Photos. If you pick “Add Photos,’ and click “Browse,” you just need to find the photo on your computer. It makes adding photos as easy as uploading your inventory updates.

      For a strategy on getting started adding photos, you can start with your highest price books and work your way down. Since Biblio gives you the option to add any of your books to the Rare Book Room for free as long as the book has a minimum price of USD $100.00 and at least one photo, adding photos to higher priced books can be doubly useful. Also, of course, people tend to be more confident about spending larger amounts of money for a book if they can see a picture of it before they buy.

      Reply
  4. Shellhouse Books

    ABE have just introduced a really easy way to upload images of one’s books. What’s the system with Biblio? Thanks, Peter Shellard (Shellhouse Books)

    Reply
  5. Grateful Dead Books LLC

    …and maybe add shipping costs in bookstore catalog searches on book info page ?

    Reply
  6. Books on High / Tri-Village Book Company

    It was difficult to bring myself to finish reading this article after reading just the first entry…a supposed dealer has only 3000 books listed and gets $1000 a month in sales. IMPOSSIBLE! That’s not an allegory, it’s a joke.

    According to Amazon, over half our 10,000 listed books are priced lowest of same titles/descriptions on their site (we list with them, abe, biblio, alibris, virtually everyone)…yet we are lucky to have a single order most any month through Biblio, where our books are actually listed at ten percent less than on Amazon.

    But thanks for the time you spent putting your suggestions to increase sales together…will try to add photos to my “over $100” listings so they’ll qualify for the Rare Book Room.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Books on High,

      Glad you found the article helpful, and if you have any questions when adding your photos, definitely let us know.

      …a supposed dealer has only 3000 books listed and gets $1000 a month in sales. IMPOSSIBLE!

      Not at all! We have quite a few sellers this size who do this well and better. Of course, we have quite a few who don’t. Mileage varies widely, and books that do really well on Biblio may not do as well on other venues and vice versa. I’ll have to make a note to do a post sometime soon that gives everyone some insight into the kinds of inventory that sells best here.

      Reply
  7. BriteDay

    LOL, Books on High reflects my first impression. We typically run 5000 inventory and only see a few Biblio orders each week. Woohoo! Already, uh, let’s see, 12 for 1… 1200%? Wait, double that because half the inventory. And, actually we carry more things than books (CD, DVD, VHS, games, puzzles, etc.). Any rate, Biblio is a small part of our business, but I am growing fond of it. So, maybe we will look at how to expand it’s use. However, we use Fillz to make listing on multiple marketplaces feasible. Any real expansion will need to be integrate with that system. So, MY QUESTION IS: if I bother to scan, upload, et. al. an image of our item to our Fillz inventory, WILL IT AUTOMATICALLY show up in Biblio? Also, is there anyway to do those other enhancement tweaks from within Fillz? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Stephen

      I’m honestly not sure if FillZ supports sending image url’s to Biblio. Their documentation on the website states:

      Image URL: If you have a picture of your item hosted on a website, you can fill in the URL for your picture here. Image URLs will be uploaded to eBay and Chrislands, as well as to Amazon (only if your listing results in a new product page being created on Amazon).

      I’ve got an email in to FillZ to check if they have any other options for sending image url’s or image files that I’m missing. I’ll let you know what I find out from them.

      Reply
  8. JPollard Bookseller

    RE Post # 6 about 3000 books and selling $1000.00 per month. I have been selling over $1000.00 per month for most months since well before having over 3000 books listed on the internet. I now have about 4300 books listed. My highest monthly sales were about T00.00 (On ABE). I haven’t sold over $1000.00 per month on Biblio. I have just recently started to make a devoted effort to associate pictures with my books and have noticed an increase in sales. Most of my books on ABE, Amazon, Alibris and Biblio are NOT the lowest priced. I certainly don’t get as many orders from Biblio as I do Amazon. I have noticed that many Biblio orders are for “quality” books. My main point is to refute your assertion that 3000 books on the internet isn’t enough books to generate $1000.00 per month in book sales. My own experience proves this assertion incorrect.

    Reply
  9. JPollard Bookseller

    I would like to add to my post –

    I have a little over 4000 books listed on Bibllio and I have had about 33 sales this year- more than 3 per month. I have noticed an increase in sales on Biblio after adding photographs and also after becoming a member of IOBA.

    Reply
  10. Signed by the Author

    Fact or fiction regarding the main theme of this particular newsletter, I’m thrilled that Biblio improved dealer-to-dealer sales with their new commission-free structure. When I’m looking for a book for a customer among all the sites, if a Biblio offering is within 10%-15% of other sites, I’ll always choose Biblio because of the savings I realize, their great shipping-status e-mails I receive, and their advocacy power in righting occasional bookseller wrongs. THANK! YOU! BIBLIO! PERIOD!

    Reply
  11. Stephen

    I did hear back from FillZ. They do support image URLs in their uploads to Biblio.

    If you want to add images to your Biblio inventory via FillZ, you can add the image URL into your FillZ data. When you upload to Biblio, we will copy the image over from where you have it stored by using that URL field.

    Reply
  12. Elsworth House of Books

    You got my attention on this. After the first of the year changes are coming at Elsworth House of Books. Thanks.

    Reply
  13. patsbookshelf.com

    I am still trying to get my books from amazon to biblio. any suggestions?

    Reply

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