Saturday, March 22, 2008

Theological Sci-Fi

Sold a Philip Jose Farmer title today: Jesus on Mars.
I have a feeling I read one of Farmer's early novellas, The Lovers in Startling Stories, many years ago. It's about a man who falls in love with an alien parasitic insect that has taken the form of a woman. Certainly that plot idea rings a bell.
Farmer seems to specialise in stories that push the boundaries of sci-fi, especially pushing them in the direction of taking theology way beyond what we normally imagine. (Actually most of us are pretty unimaginative when it comes to things theological; we rely on those who are theologians to tell us stuff, and often they're not the best people to do so.)
I read some of Azimov's early stories a few weeks ago; things in them are already very dated, though the themes themselves are not. No doubt at the time he wrote the stories there was something amazing a computer that could keep track of all the world's data; or scanners that could read hardcopies in the blink of an eye. We now take such things almost for granted.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Things picking up again

Sold two books to the same customer this week, sold a children's book (Judy and the Volcano) I've had on my shelves for some time - even though it's an excellent book - and finally, today, sold a book to a customer in Australia. Not sure if that's a first - suspect it might be - but it's all good. And the Aussie customer was as keen as mustard to get on with dealing with the sale. She's already paid me by paypal (another first, since Trade Me doesn't normally deal with paypal), and the book will be off to her tomorrow. Being Easter weekend, it's going to take a while to get out of the country, but at least it's moving.
I'm still debating how I can use this site for more than just noting what's happening. In due course I'd like to upgrade it so that it'll become active as a sales site. Whether I can do that with a blog site or not is another question; I might have to go to a 'real' site!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I was thinking yesterday that it might be worthwhile doing a little Google Adsense ad relating to this site – if I were to include books that could be bought on it, rather than just talking about ones that have already been sold.
But if it took off, I’d probably be struggling to keep up with it as well as my day job. For the time being I might stick with what I’m already doing – which is enough, even though the returns at present aren’t great.
And books, as I’ve found, aren’t necessarily the big seller on these online auction sites. They do sell, but it’s slow, and the returns aren’t always huge. Part of the problem is that each item you list is a one-off. Unlike my daughter’s friend, who sells clothing on Trade Me. She can sell the same sort of thing over and over and she does very well, by her own admission – even employs someone to do the wrapping and email answering. Though it’s still work – there ain’t no easy way of dealing with selling.
When I say the returns aren’t huge, I’m talking proportionately. Many of the books I sell have cost me under a dollar to buy, so virtually anything I get on them is profit, and (proportionately) a big markup. A book that costs me only a dollar and sells for four or five is doing very well in terms of return; it’s just that the actual dollar amount of the return isn’t high.
Now if I was buying books at $100 each and selling them for four or five hundred, things would be rather different!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


It’s been a bit of a sluggish week on all of the auction sites. Today I had two sales, the first in four or five days. And both of the books were ones I’m selling on behalf of a Christian Bookshop that deals in secondhand titles. We worked hand in hand a lot when I managed the bookshop, and we came to an agreement after I began selling books on Trade Me that I’d put a number of his books online, and we’d split the profits. Neither of us make much out of it, but at least he gets something, and so do I.
One of the books is an out of the way title called Monarchy in Hawaii. I thought it would never sell, but someone’s decided it’s for them. The other one is a book of NZ poetry – again something that doesn’t go too easily.
I used to say, if you wait long enough, there's a customer for every book. Sometimes the waiting can be a bit too long!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Linking to Alibris

A reader has just emailed me today to tell me that it is possible to link to my listings on Alibris. Very kind of you, Matthew! (Sorry you couldn't leave a comment here. Hopefully I've repaired that now.)
So, if you were of a mind to do so, just click here and it'll take you to the books I have for sale on that site.
In fact, it's interesting to come into the Alibris site in such a way. It's not a page I've ever seen before. It divides up your product into categories, and gives you a better way to browse. Just goes to show what's available!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Alibris comes through!

Meant to mention in the last post that I've been paid by Alibris today. The cheque really was in the mail. Unfortunately in the time between selling the book and getting the cheque the exchange rate has altered not in my favour, and I'm about a dollar down. Ah, me.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gwen Gawith

One of those rare patches when I've got books sitting waiting because the purchasers haven't given me their address. One of them has paid me, which seems odd. Maybe they just me to hold the book in perpetuity for them!
Sold a copy of Power Learning today. I'd rather thought about keeping this, but it's really covering ground I've covered a number of times before. However, interestingly enough, it's by a New Zealand author, Gwen Gawith, one of whose other books I'm using at work to help me figure out how to get going on a research project.
Just came across a post on another NZ site (one that's more devoted to tech stuff than online auctions) in which he rather berates the validity of Zillion. I agree it isn't up there with Trade Me, but then Trade Me was first out of the bag and did very well for itself from day one. Anything else is a competitor with some catching up to do.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Quiet couple of days on the selling front, but that's been just as well, as I've had to get the shelves in order. Finding books I'd forgotten about, and ones that I advertised when I first started on Trade Me, and which haven't ever sold. Between packing the shelves, I'm putting the odd book on one or other of the auction sites. I'm aiming to get a large number listed, so that there's plenty of choice...
Zillion has made a positive move, meantime, informing us that they're going back to offering gallery listings free, as they used to do. That's good. And there's no restriction with them as to how many items you can list before you start getting charged extra fees, something that I think is a bit sniffy on Trade Me's part.
Still you go with what you can get.
I've only ever sold one book on Alibris - a schoolboy yarn (with cricketers on the cover) called Leave it to Rags, that I found at my favourite recycling store. It went on its way to the States on the 30th Jan this year, and there's still no sign of payment. Guess that's the sort of thing it is with a firm that only pays by cheque (good grief!). An online firm that pays by cheque. Seems antiquated, doesn't it? (I've just checked the site, and found, as you'd expect, that there's a place where you can see the state of play with payments. Mine was paid out on the 29th Feb. That's more promising!)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Setting up Shelves

I've shifted in four sets of bookshelves tonight, so haven't much time to do anything else except wrap up some books sold on Trade Me, get some of the stuff off the floor where it's been lying waiting until the shelves came, and then writing on this blog.
One of the time-consuming parts of selling online is the wrapping up and making sure the addresses are correct and so forth. I used to run a bookstore which was run in conjunction with a secondhand shop. Someone else owned the secondhand part, and I remember him telling me early on that with Trade Me it was the writing up and photographing the books and the wrapping up that took up so much time. I guess in terms of running a bookshop it wasn't all that time-consuming, but when you're doing it on top of running a bookshop it does take its time, or when you're working at another job entirely and then have to do it all in the evenings, along with umpteen other things...
Anyway, another book gone today, One of Ben's, by NZ writer, Maurice Shadbolt. Not sure how long I've had this in my stock, but it feels like a while. The accounting system I use, MYOB, doesn't seem to indicate when a book first came into the 'shop.' Maybe I'll have to see if there's some way of keeping track of that.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mary MacKillop

The two Mary MacKillop books are going to the Mary McKillop Centre at St Joseph's, Temuka, where Mary MacKillop once worked. MacKillop, for those who don't know about her, is Australia's first canonized saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

It turns out that Temuka was the first NZ foundation of the Sisters of St Joseph.
Three Sisters arrived in Temuka from Australia on 1 November 1883 at the request of the parish priest, Father Fauvel.
Mary MacKillop, who was the Foundress of the Sisters of St Joseph, lived here on several occasions between 1897-1904.
St Joseph's also has a small Museum Room where Reminders of the past are displayed.

Temuka has another claim to fame: it's the place where Temuka Pottery is made. (Apparently it's now advertised as Temuka Homeware.) This pottery is amongst the best-known pottery in New Zealand, and many people would have some of it in their kitchens.

A good weekend & Zillion (!)

Four more books ready to go to new owners. That's quite a few for one weekend. I forgot to mention that I have books on, too. How could I have forgotten? For a long time Zillion seemed to be a bit of a fizzer, but it's a lot cheaper than Trade Me, and I kept books on there even though they didn't sell fast. However, this weekend we've had two sales off there, and I had another in the last week. So maybe Zillion is finally getting more customers.
This is the link to my books on Zillion.
Here's what's gone today:
A second Mary MacKillop book (as expected) called Mary MacKillop Unveiled. It's something like the not authorised biography.
Blood Orange, by Sam Llewellyn, a book that I've had for a long time, and which has never showed any inclination to move until now.
An omnibus edition of three Chalet School stories. I'd never heard of the Chalet School stories until I found one at the Recycling Shop at the Transfer Station (formerly known as the Tip or the Rubbish Dump). The Recycling Shop is one of my good sources for books, and I've found some interesting items out there. Anyway, the last Chalet book I had sold quickly, so when I found an omnibus edition, I thought I'd see how long it would last as well. Not long!
Finally, Consequences, by Carol Thomas. A romance by a New Zealand author - I don't remember where I found it, but the interesting thing about it is that when I was advertising it on Zillion last week, I discovered, when I went to find some info about it (I usually copy reviews or publishers' blurbs straight off the Net to save myself time) I discovered that someone on Zillion was already looking for it. (I'm sure Trade Me has a Wanted section that can be accessed, but I couldn't find it when I went looking the other day.)

My Links to Trade Me and Alibris

You can find books I've got listed on Trade Me by clicking here.

It doesn't look as though I can direct you to my list of books on Alibris, but I'll keep trying to figure it out!

Restarting the Blog

This blog had a second life early last year as a place to advertise books I was selling. However, I've revamping things, so the old posts will no longer be available on here.
What will be happening here will be information about books I've sold or am currently selling on Trade Me (New Zealand's biggest online auction site) and Alibris (in the US). I may even advertise certain books on here as time permits.
There'll be anecodotal material too, and stories about how I came to acquire certain titles.

In the meantime, the books that have been sold on Trade Me in the last two days are:
Faye Kellerman's Serpent's Tooth
Silver Fountains, by Beverley Hughesdon
An Extraordinary Australian: Mary MacKillop, by Paul Gardiner, SJ. (It looks as though the other book on Mary MacKillop that's due to expire on Trade Me tonight will also be sold to the same bidder.)