Celebrating Ten Years of Independent Sellers

Weatherford's World: On 36 Years of Books

Richard Weatherford holds a Ph.D. in English from UCLA, has been a bookseller and publisher for 36 years, was a co-founder of the first pre-Internet online computer system for books, and is the founder of Alibris. This is his Alibris newsletter column for sellers.

We celebrate ten years selling together by getting together

One of the best things about the Internet is the speed and efficiency with which it connects people, but the downside of all that efficiency is that many feel disconnected from the very people they work with. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to connect with many of you recently.

In the spirit of getting to know who we work with every day, Shem Pearson (seller marketing), Matt Greber (product manager), Brian Elliott (CEO and president of Alibris), and I spent a day at the Boston Book Fair. We met and talked with sellers, listening to their current experiences and ideas for future selling on the Internet, and letting them know about new features at Alibris that focus on scarce and rare books.

When we returned to Emeryville, California, we hosted an Alibris 10th Anniversary Party for sellers. The Alibris staff brought in tables and chairs, gathered lots of delicious food, handed out large Alibris-branded bags made tough to carry lots of books, and held a question-and-answer session. Brian Elliott and other staff described our programs, and the gathered booksellers asked questions, told stories, and generally had a great business/social afternoon.

A couple of days later, several booksellers gathered at the Alibris distribution center in Sparks, Nevada, for a tour of the warehouse and an introduction to the staff (many of whom have been working with Alibris for most or all of its ten years). Mark Nason, VP of operations, explained the Alibris Distribution Service (ADS) program, which allows sellers to send a minimum of 5,000 books to the distribution center, where Alibris staff use sophisticated computer programs to catalog and price the books to be held in inventory (at no storage fee!). Once an ADS book sells, it is shipped directly to the buyer. The booksellers in attendance watched as sold books were picked, packaged for shipment, and placed in large rolling bins for movement to USPS processing centers.

John Durham, of San Francisco's Bolerium Books, chats with Brian Elliott, Alibris president and CEO, at our recent open house.

John Durham, of San Francisco's Bolerium Books, chats with Brian Elliott, Alibris president and CEO, at our recent open house.