Joe Waynick explains why he sells books on
If you haven’t picked up Advanced Internet Bookselling Techniques, I recommend it. It’s not often anything new comes along for
Joe’s book is exactly what it sounds like. Here are a few things he covers:
- Several “advanced” sourcing techniques you probably haven’t read about anywhere else.
- Scaling up and setting up a bookselling warehouse operation.
- How to know if you’re ready for Fulfillment by
…and a lot more.
Check out the book here.
And here’s the just-completed interview I did with Joe Waynick.
Peter Valley: What was your intention behind writing Advanced Internet Bookselling Techniques? How is this book different?
Joe Waynick: Many home-based Internet booksellers would love to grow their business not only from a part-time business that earns a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month to one capable of funding a comfortable retirement, college tuition, and several employees as well. But they just don’t know how to make it happen. Or worse yet, they’re afraid of failing and loosing a substantial amount of money. I wanted to make it easier for would-be entrepreneurs to take the next logical step if they were truly motivated to go big.
What makes Advanced Internet Bookselling Techniques (AIBT) different is the tremendous level of detail in which I explain just about every facet of growing a business from a hobby into a full-scale commercial enterprise. Not even university level college courses are that thorough. This book was written to help online sellers make money with minimal risk, and that makes it worth its weight in gold. At least that’s what my readers tell me.
Can you give us a few words on your history selling on
I knew I wanted to scale up to a large operation almost from the first day I started selling books online way back in 2006. I mean, I saw the potential right away. Like most other booksellers, I started from a spare room in my home and half a dozen cheap bookcases I purchased from Wal-Mart. Within a few months, I spilled out into the hallway, lining both walls of the space with another 15 bookcases. I literally had to turn sideways to inch down the hall to get to the laundry room! A few months after that I spilled out into the garage, building four homemade bookcases that held 800 – 1,000 books each.
Within a year I had more than 7,000 books stuffed into every nook and cranny of my home when my wife threatened me with bodily harm if I didn’t do something. That’s when I took the leap and leased my first 1,250 square foot warehouse. It was a real sweat box and I made a number of mistakes that almost cost me a great deal of money. Luckily I dodged a bullet and moved up to a location twice that size to 2,500 square feet in my second year, and six months into that I doubled again to 5,000 square feet. Six months later I took the plunge and jumped up to a 12,000 square foot unit where I stayed for a couple more years.
Why do you sell books? Why should anyone sell books?
I sell books—particularly used books—because they are easy to find, cheap to buy, and provide handsome profit margins. They’re easy to ship, and don’t suffer much, if any, damage from the rigors of traveling through the postal system. They’re as close to being the perfect eCommerce product as you can get.
You cover several advanced book sources in AIBT. Can you pick one, and explain why so few booksellers are utilizing this source?
One of the most profitable, and most difficult to implement, book sourcing strategies is collection bins. Imagine if you can get hundreds, no thousands, of people to give you free books every day. Sounds great doesn’t it? That is, until you consider the logistical hurdles required to place those bins, transport them, service them, keep them from “disappearing,” obtaining permits from dozens of municipalities, and…well, I think you get the picture. But that’s exactly how the big boys do it and they do it with incredible efficiency. They literally make millions of dollars every year, but they had to bet big and risk it all to get to where they are. How many entrepreneurs are willing to do that?
Chapter 5 covers acquisitions. This is something few sellers consider. Can you explain this method of acquiring inventory?
Sure Peter. Unfortunately, somewhere in the nation brick-and-mortar and Internet booksellers go out of business every single month. It doesn’t take much research and networking to get plugged into that market. When these businesses go belly-up, a sharp entrepreneur can step in and provide the distressed owner some financial relief by offering to buy out their entire inventory. This is much needed upfront cash these owners can use to pay down debt or use for other pressing purposes. The advantage to the buyer is that a great deal of inventory can be acquired for just pennies on the dollar. I’m talking 10,000 to 50,000 books in one shot. That inventory is going to go someplace. A landfill? Donated to a thrift store or library? The distressed owner gets nothing when that happens. Why not sell it to a willing buyer? I think that’s a far better option for all parties concerned and everybody wins.
Can you go into your feelings on when FBA is right for a bookseller, and what type of seller (if any) do better with the merchant fulfilled model?
On the flip side, if your business is small, say, just a few thousand books, then FBA is probably not your best option, unless you simply want to outsource fulfillment worries. At that level it’s strictly a convenience thing. You can do that, but you’ll make more money fulfilling orders yourself because you won’t necessarily charge yourself labor and picking fees using strict accounting methods. As a sole proprietor or closely held LLC, it all goes into the same pocket anyway.
Over half the book is dedicated to setting up the infrastructure for a large-scale bookselling business (leasing warehouse space, etc). As a rule of thumb, when is a bookseller ready for employees, warehouse space, etc? When are people ready for the “next step”?
Ideally, a bookseller is ready for the next step when three things happen. First, the home-based business must be profitable enough to completely cover the fixed and variable monthly overhead of a warehouse operation (estimated in Advanced Internet Bookselling Techniques at around $3,000) as well as pay the owner’s living expenses. Second, the bookseller must have stable, plentiful and diverse sources of supply to acquire enough inventory each month to keep the cash flow high enough to consistently meet the demands my first requirement. And finally, the bookseller must have exhausted every square inch of so-called “free” storage space in the home, including spare bedrooms, hallways, the attic, the garage (park on the street if necessary), the basement, backyard storage sheds, etc. Then you’re ready to take the plunge and step up to a world-class commercial operation.
Check out Advanced Internet Bookselling Techniques.
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