The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Personalized Catalogs

If you've bought a book from me before you've probably received one of my nifty zombies-attacking-a-bookstore bookmarks.

Sadly if you received said bookmark it's 99.999991% likely that you didn't see (or were unmotivated by) the coupon code stamped on the back which gets you 15% off your next order and reduced or free shipping. Even customers who've purchased from me 5-6 times ignore this substantial boon. I'm at a loss...

Anyway, to hi-light my Gates-level generosity I decided to start printing up short personalized catalogs to include with select orders listing other material the buyer might enjoy and emphasizing the discount.

I use the free version of Bookhound as my database which allows you to easily create customized pick lists. Here's how I do it:
  • Search Bookhound by catalog, keyword or description (with quantity set to ">0" so you only get current inventory).
  • Once you have results, click in the empty space at the far right of each record (beneath the "+" sign) to add select books to a new list.
  • Do several searches--and add titles that are interesting and appropriate--until you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-50.
  • Click on the "+" in the upper right corner and Bookhound will display all the titles you just selected.
  • Review your list. Does it feel logical and appealing? If you find something doesn't belong, click "omit" and then the "+" again to get the revised list. Add more titles as necessary.
  • Sort your list by author or title by clicking on the column head.
  • Click "Save list" and name it something appropriate.
  • Click "email list" (not "print list") and Bookhound will copy your list (with full publication details, descriptions, price, etc) to the clipboard.
  • Paste your list into a word doc. I use a template with my logo, contact info, list name, date, page number, and a short explanatory paragraph.
That's it! Print the list and include it with your order. I also save the list as a dated doc so I can reprint if necessary and track its effectiveness. If you receive a similar order down the road you can call the list up in Bookhound from the "saved lists" pull-down on the search screen and freshen it up by adding new acquisitions and deleting sold items .

I find this is a great way to bring some of the hand-sell magic back to online bookselling. It's fun to try and laser in on a customer's reading and collecting needs, it keeps me aware of my older inventory and it gives the customer something to peruse when they step away from the computer.

I've done two so far. Fingers crossed that it wins me some loyal repeat customers.

NOTE: If you staple the list/catalog make sure you fold and place it in such a way that the staple doesn't mar the book. Also if it's more than 2 pages thick, don't place it inside the book or you could damage the binding.

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