Re: The Oak Knoll Repricing Saga
- --- In Marbling@yahoogroups.com, "Oak Knoll" <oakknoll@...> wrote:
>Dear Bob, thank you for this very interesting information! I took time to browse through you online-bookshop and was really impressed. All these beutiful books with excellent descriptions! I am happy, because you made me realise that the book about bookbinding by Paul Adams which I inherited from my great-grandfather is realy valuable. I will handle it with more respect now. Barbara
> The Oak Knoll Repricing Saga
> The Internet has had a dramatic effect on the prices and availability of
> antiquarian books. This is great news for the consumer but has required some
> serious thinking by all of us "old-timers" in the business (I started
> selling books about books in 1976).
> What happens when you consistently sell David Randall's Dukedom Large Enough
> for $45 for a number of years (fine in dust jacket) but then go on-line
> today and find it being sold for $18 by other booksellers?
> This scenario was starting to happen often enough that I decided to sit down
> one night (November 2009) next to a shelf of my books and analyze how my
> prices compared to those of other dealers. This process was accompanied by a
> bottle of wine, of course, to ease my work. I took each book off the shelf
> and compared it to the search result for that book using Vialibri.net (the
> best of the out-of-print search engines, in my opinion). I made sure I was
> comparing "apples to apples" by eliminating POD (print on demand) copies and
> making sure that the edition and condition were as close as possible. My
> test case showed that my copy was infrequently the lowest priced copy on the
> web, more often higher in price than a comparable copy, and sometimes was
> lost in a vast number of $1 to $5 copies of the same book.
> I have always made a point of making sure that I price my books fairly, as
> long-time customer relationships are very important to me. I want my
> customers to know that when they see a book that I list, they can feel
> confident that a search for that book in the inventory of other dealers will
> show that Oak Knoll knows their business and understands the principles of
> supply and demand. Because this is my specialty, throughout the years I have
> seen more copies of books about books than any other dealer, making me, in a
> way, the arbitrator of the prices. I know what books sell well consistently
> and what books don't, and I have priced material accordingly.
> However, my analysis showed me that I needed to lower my prices for the
> majority of our books. But what would my customers think? How would they
> react to seeing books that they had purchased from me over the last year or
> so listed at a lower (sometimes significantly) price? Would they understand
> the dynamics of the new Internet market?
> My first plan was to have a series of sales of material in the $75 to $100
> range. I started posting sales on the Internet that offered a 60% discount
> on the group of books chosen. The sales did well, as everyone likes a sale.
> However, when I really looked at what was selling and what wasn't, I found
> that the arbitrary discount being offered was much too much in some cases,
> much too little in some cases, and about right in a few cases. Back to my
> shelves I went (with another bottle of wine), and I spent a few days doing a
> thorough analysis of the books. As much as I dreaded the conclusion, it was
> obvious that I had to do a complete physical inventory and price analysis OF
> EVERY SINGLE BOOK IN MY INVENTORY (then currently about 24,000). It was an
> ugly thought, as it would take a huge amount of time to complete the
> We can now fast-forward 13 months to today, when the task is done! Every one
> of the books has been taken off the shelf, looked up using Vialibri.net, and
> had the price adjusted or re-affirmed. A side effect of this process of
> examining each book in the physical inventory was the dozens of interesting
> books we discovered that had become lost over the years. We also used the
> opportunity to make sure we took an image of the book for the website, as
> images give the customer additional confidence in the quality of the book.
> What was the result?
> 14% went to $5. This section is the fastest selling section of the re-priced
> 58% decreased in retail price with the average price decreasing by 51%
> 25% stayed the same
> 3% increased in retail price
> We now have about 22,000 books for sale as many of the re-priced books have
> already sold. I'm confident that I can now announce to the world that
> shopping at Oak Knoll Books can be done with confidence in our darn good
> competitive prices.
> Now go to our web site and see what I mean!
> Best wishes
> Bob Fleck
> Ps I have not had one person email me about all the prices changes. I think
> the consumer understands the massive change in book-selling caused by the
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