A: BiblioDirect.com is being developed by Bibliophile Books, Inc. as a site for booksellers by booksellers. We intend to create a site that will attract quality booksellers: the best dealers have the best books, and that combination will attract the best customers.
BiblioDirect.com is designed to facilitate the transaction between the buyer and the seller without getting in the middle. We will charge a monthly fee to the dealer, but after that we just get the buyer and the seller together and continue to advertise our site. All transactions are made at the dealer’s price and under the dealer’s terms with no mark-ups, additional shipping fees, or commissions.
We don’t think anyone has yet gotten it right. Some databases want to interpose themselves between the seller and buyer. We will not. Some want a piece of each transaction. We do not. Some do not seem to see advertising and public relations as critical. We do. Some do not want to police their sellers to insure fair, professional dealings with unquestioned returns. We will. We want to create a database that we want to sell through. We shall.
Editor: Is this a long-term commitment on your part? Where do you see yourself and your database in three years? 5 years?
A: It goes without saying that we are developing BiblioDirect.com for the long-term. We are booksellers and have been for a long time. We expect to die with our boots on.
Editor: What lister book database inventory programs do you/will you support?
A: All inventory programs will be supported on BiblioDirect.com
Editor: What are your upload procedures? Deletion procedures? Are “wants” listings available? For sale matches? Are any additions/changes planned?
A: Our web-based upload procedures are being designed to be as easy as possible with the least chance of error. Obviously, our program will allow frequent updates with both additions and deletions of records; however, book dealers will also have the ability to edit or delete records on-line.
We will encourage potential customers to create want lists. Even more importantly, we want the potential customer to be able to leave a very specific want (for example, Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, first state in DJ, signed) so that only the most appropriate match will be made so that potential customer will not have to wade through pages of matches that bear no resemblance to what he or she is actually looking for.
Editor: What customer service (for both sellers and buyers) do you/will you have?
A: For sellers, you can expect a knowledgeable friendly BiblioDirect.com voice at the other end of the telephone (or as a recipient of an e-mail) and someone who understands the book business, book terms, frustrations with customers, etc. We’ve been there.
We’re also open to suggestions and ideas, and plan to have an easy way you can make suggestions for improvements or tell us, Gee, I wish you could.
For really technical questions, we might put you in touch with one of our programmers. These programmers were chosen not only for their technical expertise (and in that area they are very, very gifted), but also for their ability to use the English language. Of the three of us involved in BiblioDirect.com, Roger is the least proficient with the computer. (No, that’s not fair. Roger is hopeless.) Our test with the programmers was to see if they could explain a technical term in such a way that even Roger could understand it.
The best customer service we can give the buyer is an assurance that the BiblioDirect.com book dealer holds to professional standards, describes his/her books accurately, and follows through with the sale in a timely manner and then packages the book carefully for shipment.
BiblioDirect.com will also provide a means for private, voluntary feedback between buyer and seller as well as a complaint/dispute resolution service.
Editor: Will you/do you have any quality (i.e., descriptions, shipping, and/or customer service) standards for your listers? If so, what will be/are the consequences of violating those standards?
A: We are proud that we sell books for a living; we constantly strive to be the best book sellers we can be. We will expect no less from the dealers who list their books with BiblioDirect.com. The standards we set for the BiblioDirect.com dealers will be common-sense and basic to a quality retailer.
Should we find it necessary to look at any problems with a BiblioDirect.com dealer, it will be done quietly and privately. We will work closely with that dealer to encourage them to improve and to become more professional in their approach to book selling. After repeated conversations, if we cannot assure ourselves that a particular dealer is willing to improve, their listings will be suspended from BiblioDirect.com.
By the same token, we will look for the same quality in the buyers. To give some assurance to the dealers, we will maintain a system whereby any dealer can inform BiblioDirect.com privately of a particular person whose books are lost in the mail, or who returns a book after it has been slapped on a photocopy machine and then expects a full refund. If we see a pattern developing, we will contact the customer on behalf of our dealers.
Editor: What are your technical arrangements (in non-technical language, please) to ensure reliability of service? Future growth? Additional services?
A: We have purchased the best servers, router, and back-up systems currently available with dedicated Internet access. They will be maintained by an amazingly talented engineer. When the time comes for upgrades, we are ready, willing, and able to make those changes, and in fact many are already planned for the future.
Editor: Will you/do you have the capability of taking credit card info for orders? If so, what can you tell us about the safety procedures you have or will have in place to ensure the security of such info?
A: Yes, we will have the capability for a customer to provide his/her credit card information in a secure manner. That information, however, will only be provided to the book dealer by logging onto the BiblioDirect.com site. A number of security measures have been taken to make sure that the customer will feel more comfortable leaving credit card information on the BiblioDirect.com site than giving their credit card to a waiter in a restaurant.
Editor: Do you ever plan to process credit card orders through your database (rather than simply passing on the info to the lister) and, if so, will the lister or buyer bear the processing cost, and how long will it take to get payment to the lister?
Editor: Do you have any plans for programs associated with your database which would involve anything other than direct contact between seller and buyer?
A: No. One of the major purposes of developing BiblioDirect.com is to maintain and encourage contact between the buyer and the seller.
Editor: Do you have or do you plan to have an “all word search” capability?
A: A definite yes.
Editor: What search capabilities does your database have now? What is planned for the future?
A: The BiblioDirect.com user will have an option of a basic search or an advanced search. Since the advanced search has been designed by professional bookdealers, it should improve upon current capabilities at other sites.
Editor: On what will you base your listing fees? What fees do you have now or plan to have?
A: 1- 1,000 records — $25.00 per month; 1,001 4,999 records — $30.00 per month; 5,000 9,999 records — $35.00 per month; 10,000+ records — $40.00 per month.
Editor: Do you plan to have or now have your database searched by Addall or Bookfinder or any other mega-search site?
A: Yes, we have plans for the BiblioDirect.com database to be included with mega-search sites.
Editor: How do you plan to advertise your database (both to draw listers and buyers)?
A: Frankly, we’re not going to tell you where we will be advertising, and we doubt many of you will ever see our most of our ads because they will be directed to the potential buyerbut we will be out there trolling. We believe that targeted advertising to book buyers where they may be found and marketing Internet bookselling on the Internet are two principles of successful advertising. BiblioDirect.com will be advertising on a variety of on-line sites (such as Google); however, we hope we are creating a site with enough interesting features that both book dealers and book buyers will be encouraged to tell a friend about the site. A large share of our budget is devoted to advertising and public relations.
Editor: What background or experience do you or other people involved with your database have that relates to the online book or online book database business?
A: Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson is known to all as the Grand Poobah of the Bibliophile mailing list, but he is also an accomplished bookseller who deals exclusively in Latin America, the Caribbean, bullfighting and baseball books. He began in the book business in 1961, took time out for a law practice and returned to bookselling 15 years ago.
Roger and Jan O’Connor preside over the chaos that is Mostly Books. Both were college teachers; Roger long ago succumbed to his love for books, while Jan carved out a career in media/public relations, working for a time at NBC, several radio stations, and a state arts agency. Jan is also a former member of the Kansas Humanities Council and has been active in civic organizations.
Both Lynn and the O’Connors have been selling books online since the advent of online bookselling.
Editor: Do you or are you planning to have professional management, bookseller management, or????
A: With BiblioDirect.com’s commitment to booksellers, our management will always be vested with bookdealers.
Editor: What markets (geographical and/or demographic) are you aiming at?
A: BiblioDirect.com will be marketing the world of books to the world, and we will be marketing the expertise of our dealers.
Editor: What services/features does your database have that you feel sets you apart and/or will ensure the success of your database?
A: Log onto http://www.BiblioDirect.com on March 17th (the tentative launch date) and see what sets BiblioDirect.com apart