Turnover: An Introduction for Booksellers

Despite its utility, in my experience far too few book dealers understand the idea or importance of turnover for their business. Indeed, as I hope to demonstrate, there are few numbers you can know about your business that are as immediately useful and practical as your turnover.

Pazzo Books of West Roxbury, MA

Did I mention that we didn’t know what we were doing? The problem was, that we both had studied English Literature (I’d even bombed around graduate school in Albuquerque to the tune of 38 credits), so far from recognizing how little we knew about the book business, we thought we might be experts.

John Howell for Books, Los Angeles, CA

I used to think that the worst aspect of selling online were the commissions paid to online venues like Amazon and ABE, and a concurrent loss of autonomy to the same players. But, it takes time to build up a clientele that one can call one’s own. As I branch out and make more contacts within the trade, I am finding that the 15% to the online venues feels comfortable compared to the 20% expected by colleagues. But one has to keep these things in perspective; since it has long been the case that most book sellers make most of their sales to other book sellers, and one needs to keep churning one’s inventory, the challenge for me right now is merely maintaining the cash flow to sustain myself in the trade.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

With this issue, I happily and proudly assume the editorship of the IOBA’s (long neglected) Standard. And with our first new installment in more than two years, we also begin the tenth volume of The Standard, one that unveils what I hope will be only the beginning of many improvements to our august publication. But as with many things, before we can go forward, it helps to look back.