sujewa films nyc

Monday, July 07, 2008

Met a dude who makes his living selling used books on Amazon

There are people - types, let's say - that may, in the future, be considered unique folklore figures from the turn of the 21st century; such as people who make a healthy living selling items on the web. These people exist, for most of us, in entrepreneur profile pieces on magazines, newspapers, & the web itself. But I met one of these people recently - a real live one, in the flesh. Dude is relatively young, lives in a Montgomery County, MD suburb, got a small family, and the basement of his large house is full of used and rare books. His work day consists of listing books for sale on Amazon, and then fulfilling orders (sometimes around 40 orders a day he said), & also going out & buying new merchandise/books for selling. Dude is an expert in his specialty (also has broad knowledge of many subjects; history, art, etc.) - specializes in one type of books, and knows his sector of the market well.

Dude needed help; had tons of books to enter into Amazon, and I could use more money to buy video gear, etc., so I started working a few hours a week for him last week.

I got a pretty good idea of how the Amazon thing works for used & rare books after a couple of hours, so, the next day, I convinced my boss at my full time job (at a used & rare bookstore in Montgomery County, MD) to start selling on Amazon (no conflict of interest w/ the part time gig, what we sell is different). Prior to this he (my boss @ the FT job) was very reluctant to use Amazon (some traditional booksellers are STILL not sold on Amazon being a good source of revenue); but, after seeing how easy it is to list stuff on Amazon, he is on board.

So now I will be spending a lot of my weekday work days (and those nights & weekends when I am not writing, shooting, or editing a movie or a video) entering books into Amazon. So, the last 4 days I spent more hours at the Amazon site than at any other website (putting in a lot of time at this blog over the last few months may have made me comfortable with spending hours working at a website).

The Amazon listing thing is kind of like blogging - except with figuring out prices & pricing things. Maybe not as much fun as blogging, but certainly pays more :)

Now that my bookstore is active on Amazon, I can list my DVDs (Date Number One DVD hopefully at some point this month) for sale there. Already listed a used (but like new) copy of Night on Earth - Criterion edition there (I have an extra copy); see link (while it lasts) on the right side of this blog - or go here - if you are interested in the DVD.

Some (probably very few now) think the web/web retail is a threat to business as they know it. I find it interesting that others have adapted very well to this relatively new market place & make a healthy/FT living from it; specially when the web-retailer can pay me more for the same kind of work than the traditional (for the most part) retailer.

However, being able to hang out, shop at real world book stores is still way cool; and maybe heavy use of selling on the web plus traditional walk-in/store sales will make it possible for more real world book stores to stay open (quite a few local used book stores have closed recently, many point to the competition from the web as a chief reason that those businesses were no longer viable).

There's probably some useful wisdom here for the specialty film industry; maybe it will come to me after I enter a few hundred books into the web next week. Maybe indie theaters selling indie DVDs on line or something, or combining theatrical screenings and DVD sales, download to various media players - or something like that; an approach that combines the traditional/real world selling of indie movies with the 24-7/world wide market place that exists on the web. I am sure many people are already working on making that kind of approach a profitable reality; IFC's In Theaters program is a step in that direction perhaps.

Maybe the film available at theaters (at a few theaters, or just one theater, or in conjunction with a fest screening or a DIY screening), and on cable on-demand at the same time, plus internet on-demand at the same time (downloadable to watch on TV, iPod, computer, etc.), plus available for purchase on DVD off the web/mail-order, and publicized through web ads, blog posts, and through traditional methods of publicity (newspapers/print, radio, TV) - maybe with advertising & publicity $s coming from all the avenues through which the movie is being sold/made available to customers - since 2 big problems for indie movies now are distribution (lack of good - wide & well paid - distribution options) and publicity (advertising a movie can get expensive). Hmmmm...

- Sujewa

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