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The IOBA Standard is the journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and covers the book world, with a special focus on the online used, out-of-print, and collectible bookselling markets.


PopShops offers Booksellers a New Deal

Maria Bustillos

PopShops, the new fixed-price/shopfront offering from Popula Auctions, will deliver booksellers a new and different customer base in a new and different kind of venue, according to Maria Bustillos, the company’s CEO. The new site is scheduled to launch on May 15.

“Even the least tech-savvy Web user can create a PopShop in just a few minutes,” says Bustillos. “The cost is way less than setting up your own website: just $10 per month and 10% commissions on successful sales (you can also prepay a year’s fees, for just $100.) Because Popula encourages links to outside services and to your own websites elsewhere, PopShops is a great adjunct to any existing online strategy for the retail sale of used and rare goods. For someone with an existing database of books it’s especially easy, because the whole file can be uploaded and translated into the PopShops system with very little effort or time.”

PopShops offer dealers a permanent Web presence with its own URL and headers, a customizable template including four images, space for a logo and contact information, a Printing Press feature for sending out newsletters and sale announcements to new and existing customers, and other hot new features to be revealed in the final launch. A print and Web advertising campaign is already underway.

Popula’s original offering, an offbeat online auction, enjoys a high reputation among auction aficionados, who praise the site’s ease of use, its relaxed and fun atmosphere, and its friendly and responsive customer service. Publications as diverse as Fortune Magazine, Women’s Wear Daily, Long Island Newsday, and Courtney Love’s Hole website have all recommended Popula highly. Having weathered the Internet downturn successfully and maintained its eclectic atmosphere intact, the company has decided that the time is right for expansion.

“The Internet is still in its infancy,” continues Bustillos. “Those of us with the patience and foresight and flexibility to take advantage of new developments will be in an excellent position a few years from now. We’ve been planning for this stage for two years, and are very excited to be able to offer PopShops at last.”

Bustillos also observes that Popula’s following includes a broad cross-section of discerning younger customers who may not normally shop for rare and out-of-print books, but whose collectors’ addictions to vintage clothing, pop culture artifacts or vinyl LPS make them ideal candidates for bibliomania. Says Bustillos, “A lot of these kids have got the psychological profile for the dread book disease—they just need a small amount of information, a little nudge in the right direction … I know, I sound like a dope peddler! But booksellers who sell on Popula are likely to find buyers they won’t find on other sites.”

“Popula’s greatest strength is that we put our dealers first,” adds Oliver Corlett, co-founder and President of the company. “We feel that when customers come to buy from you at Popula, they’re yourcustomers, not Popula’s. We offer you the tools to serve them–but otherwise, we basically stay out of the way. It’s not in our interest to try to control our dealers’ transactions, payment systems or fulfillment options. We encourage you to use our system as a part of a whole sales strategy. We want our dealers to succeed, and we offer them the freedom to do things their own way.”

A few FAQs regarding PopShops:

How do booksellers upload their inventories to PopShop? In other words, can we upload whole inventories like we do to databases, and you guys convert the formats?

Yes. For now, we are converting files in-house from any of the usual suspects (ABE, HomeBase, BookMate, BookTrakker, Access, Excel, etc.) We’ll be adding conversion utilities so that merchants can upload straight from the site.

Or is it more like eBay, where either you list them on MisterLister or an independent software vendor’s program once and then have them for future use if they don’t sell?

Once your inventory is translated into the PopShops format, you can keep it all on Popula for as long as you subscribe, and re-use data as you need it.

Are you encouraging dealers to upload 1,000 or 3,000 or more books, or are you aiming for smaller amounts of wares in each shop? What if a bunch of dealers uploaded thousands of books each–are you equipped technically and server-wise to handle that type of load?

We’re aiming to grow a large database, and have built the system to accommodate and scale with that in mind. PopShops is a whole separate “wing” of our system and runs its own software.

Is the $10 regardless of how many items are in the shop?

For now, yes. It’s an introductory price, and I hope a lot of dealers will take advantage of it.

Also, can items other than books be put in PopShops? I sell some antique jewelry and glass, for instance. They’re not in any database, so is there a program where I could enter the specifics to put them in a PopShop?

Yes, PopShops is equipped to handle the same categories of merchandise as Popula Auctions. We have a separate Populator upload system for adding inventory.

I assume images can be attached to items in PopShops?

Yes. PopShops descriptions also accommodate HTML and offsite links, so that users can use their PopShops to do different kinds of cross-merchandising.



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