Monday, July 16, 2012

Fantastic Frontispiece 2: Matthias Klostermayr (1772)

Click for full-size image
This is the second of my series called "Fantastic Frontispiece" (here is a link to the 1st)  As I described in my discussion of the parts of a book, a frontispiece is a decorative image that is on the facing page from the title page.  These can be beautiful additions to high-quality books and are worth looking for in the books you purchase.

This frontispiece is from a 1772 German biography of the great outlaw and rebel Matthias Klostermayr.  In addition to the great detail on the frontispiece itself, I also admire the archaic script used in the title page, it is a German system called Blackletter or Fraktur which fell out of use in Germany in the mid-20th century.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Accounting for Textbooks Sales using and Excel

Since the beginning of this blog, my article on selling textbooks through has remained the most popular and so I thought it was about time to make a follow-up post.

Textbook sales are particularly complicated because every textbook buyer requires a minimum order size to justify paying for shipping and when using you receive (when you're lucky) numerous competing offers.  It would be nice, of course, to simply pick the highest offered price and sell to them, unfortunately however, sometimes the highest price doesn't cover that particular company's minimum or it is necessary to sell a few books at a lower price so that you can sell everything you bought instead of having books left over from companies whose minimums you didn't meet.

To do this, especially after a trip to a book fair where you have a pile of books to sell, is easiest when you use a spreadsheet.  I previously described a spreadsheet to be used to keep general accounts and this textbook spreadsheet is designed to work in tandem (probably in different tabs in the same Excel or OpenOffice Spreadsheet file).
Click Image for Full-Sized View
 The system here is similar to that of my other book spreadsheet.  Column A is the book's title, column B was the cost of the book for me and column D is the book's ISBN (for more on ISBNs, see my post on the matter).  I will get to Column C in a moment but it is the highest price column.

The rest of the columns are listings of companies that buy books via  So "BookByte" is, TextRUS is and is  I write the ISBN into the spreadsheet and then cut and paste it into the search engine, I then copy down all of the prices (if any) into the appropriate column.  It tend to bold the highest price and then write that company's column letter into Column C.  So, on row 11 (Plato's Symposium), the highest price was Bookbyte, which offered 75c and is in Column E, so I wrote "E" into Column C.

Row 12 (and it varies because you need to add a row in for every new book) is one of the few formulas, which simply totals all of the prices for that particular company.  So the formula for BookByte (column E) is as follows:


The first letter changes depending on the column, and the final number (in this case the "11" in "E11") is the last row before the total row, so as you add more books, it gets higher.

The next row, Row 13 in our example case is fixed and it is a listing of the minimum prices that each company will ship for.  The ones you're most likely to use are:

Bookbyte: $10
Textbooksrus: $15 $10 $10
1st Class Books: $15
Powell's: $5 (nice!)
Valore: $10
Sellbackyourbook: $5
Bookitbuyback: $10
Moola4books: $8
Webuytextbooks: $5

From here on out it's just a matter of comparisons and a bit of math.  If you have a large number of books, such as after a book sale, you may have to juggle a bit.  I highly recommend selling books as quickly as possible as prices change rapidly (and, in my experience, downwards), so you may not always get the best price for your books in an attempt to fill the orders and sell as many as possible.

P.S.: Those of you who want to know more about how to work Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Spreadsheet, here is a good primer

Good luck!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Parts of a Book Part III: How Books are Made (Sewn vs. Glued Bindings)

In this third and final installment of "Parts of a Book," we will be exploring the process by which a book is physically constructed; in previous sections we examined the outside of the book and the inside of the book.

This information is important to a bookseller because when we understand the mechanics of a book, we are better able to judge whether it was:
(a) well made and 
(b) has stood the test of time.

Books begin their lives as groupings of consecutive pages called signatures, which have been printed, trimmed and folded.  Signatures are organized in order, have the covers added and then are bound.  There are several types of binding: sewing (the most traditional) using thread, stapling, and perfect binding (using glues).

To tell whether your book has a sewn binding--a generally desirable trait as it makes the book more valuable--open the book, turn it on its side and look at the headband (guide to parts of a book).  According to Leonard's Books you:

can (sometimes, or often, or usually) tell if the pages appear to be side-by-side in neat little folded groupings like tiny booklets. These booklets are called signatures. This is usually a clue that the binding is sewn.
But not always!
Now, if you can get to the center of one of the little signatures, look for sewing or stitching running down the length of the spine edges of the pages — in the gutter, in the center of the folded middle page. If you see threads, you have a sewn binding.
If your book is beginning to come apart, you can look in between the signatures and see the threads; note that a mesh-like cloth along the spine is not threads, but a material used in glued bindings.