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.
(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.
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 Biblio. Books 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.
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.