Saturday, January 1, 2011

Two Years on Bonanza

It was two years ago today that I opened my Jennifer's Series Books booth on what was then known as Bonanzle.  I was the 17,523rd person to register on Bonanzle.  I was far from the first, but considering how many people have registered since that time, I was definitely one of the early adopters.

The last thing I wanted to do is to quit selling on eBay, but I felt that I had no choice.  My books weren't selling, so I had to find another solution.  I was very hopeful that Bonanzle would work.  I chose it based on intuition, and I didn't really know if it was a better choice than the other venues.

Two years later, Bonanza is on the short list of sites that are always mentioned when people ask about other venues.  Etsy, eCrater, and Bonanza are the three that are always mentioned. 

Has Bonanza worked for me?  Certainly.  Is it perfect?  No.  I have had my share of frustrations, especially during the last few months when traffic dropped steeply after the name change from Bonanzle to Bonanza.  I kind of miss that funny name, Bonanzle, although I think that the name change will be good in the long run.

My Google traffic shows a nice rebound for the December total, but the surge in Google traffic only occurred during the first part of the month.  It fell flat during the last half of the month due to the holidays, and I hope it gets better in the next few days.  That is why I stated that my traffic would not return to normal until at least January.  The holidays always shut down any interest in vintage books.

I have sold approximately 1,790 books in approximately 557 transactions in the last two years.  I state "approximately" due to a few glitches or other odd occurrences that have thrown off the numbers slightly. A few sales were never counted.  A few buyers backed out of the transactions before paying, and those sales are in the count.  In the end, the mistakes in both directions mostly cancel each other out, so the approximation is still very close.

My attitude towards pricing items has changed in the last two years, and interestingly enough this change has occurred rather recently.  I was very uncomfortable with the fixed-price format two years ago.  I had the typical eBay mentality of "What if I price it too low?" I was always worried about books that sold fast.  Did I price them too low?

All through 2009 I had that nagging feeling.  I constantly worried about how the books would have done in auctions.  I still felt that way during at least the first half of 2010.  At some point in just the last six months, I finally got past those feelings.  It took me at least 1 1/2 years to reset my perspective as a seller after selling on eBay since 1997.  That is why people have so much trouble letting go of eBay.

I no longer care if people think my prices are too high.  I am aware that I can lower them eventually.  I also don't care if I sell some books too low.  Most eBay auctions close at the opening bid, so I see no difference.  As long as I get what I wanted for it, then I am fine.

If sellers have that much trouble letting go, then buyers must have the same problems.  In the sporadic selling that I have done on eBay in the last two years, I have only been able to get one buyer to come to Bonanza and make a purchase.  The buyers on eBay are not willing to look elsewhere, for whatever reason.  They want to shop on eBay, even if they pay more.  They don't care if the sellers have coupon codes or other discounts on Bonanza.  They are eBay shoppers, and that is where they will stay.

This brings me to my next point.  I realize that some sellers can't let go of eBay for various reasons.  Some people want to leave eBay, and they sell on eBay and other venues simultaneously.  My next comments are only directed at the people who complain that people won't buy their stuff outside of eBay.  We get a lot of whining in the forums from people who don't understand why, when the same items are listed on eBay and Bonanza, their items sell on eBay instead.

Think about it:  If your items are on eBay and elsewhere at the same prices, your items will sell on eBay first because eBay has more traffic.  One of the many reasons I have had success is because my books are not on eBay.  People can't get my books on eBay, so they buy them on Bonanza instead.

I disagree with the approach many sellers have of listing all of their items on eBay and other venues simultaneously.  As a buyer, I worry about whether the book is available on Bonanza when I know it is also on eBay (These comments are not aimed at the people who sell series books, read this blog, and are responsible with their inventory.).  Furthermore, if the price is the same on both venues, I will buy it on eBay instead.  Why?  Because I know eBay will punish the seller if the seller doesn't fork over the item.  I figure the seller is more likely to follow through on eBay.  That is one reason buyers stay on eBay.  The sellers are more likely to honor the transactions.

I saw one case a few months ago in which a buyer bought some books on Bonanza while the same seller had them in auctions on eBay.  The auctions closed higher.  The eBay buyers left positive feedback later, so I have no doubt that the Bonanza buyer was the one who lost out.  Items should never be listed in two places at the same time.

I have a few items on eBay right now, but none of those exact books are currently for sale in my Bonanza booth.  A few were on Bonanza, but I placed them on reserve for the duration of the auctions.  If the items do not sell, I will activate them again on Bonanza.  Other items were listed fresh for eBay, and if they do not sell, then I will create listings for those books on Bonanza.

I feel like the best approach is to list different books on eBay and Bonanza in hopes of pulling buyers over to Bonanza.  As already stated, most buyers refuse to convert, so sellers must work on gaining better exposure in Google.  I hope to be able to report back in a month that my Google traffic has rebounded again.


Jennifer said...

I want to clarify further so that no one who is a regular reader of this blog gets offended. I see no problem with people listing the same items on multiple venues so long as those people manage their inventory well. I also see no problem with people listing the same items on multiple venues so long as they understand that they will get more sales on eBay.

Many people come to the forums and complain about how they sell less on Bonanza, and all of their items are listed on both eBay and Bonanza. What do they think will happen? People buy first on eBay, and then look elsewhere.

Some people even have their items priced higher on Bonanza and then complain that they get no sales. That makes no sense to me.

mark said...

Hi Jennifer,
Interesting read. You might want to look at as well. I think this would fit your requirements.

Jennifer said...

This kind of promotional comment is a bit amusing to me. I have invested two years in Bonanza; I am not going to jump ship and try eBid. It was one of the venues I considered and then chose Bonanza. But thanks for the suggestion.

stratomiker said...

Because I've been selling series books to collectors since the 1960s, I've seen popularity and values go way up and way down. A lot of it had to do with availability. Books were hard to come by in the 70s and 80s, unless you were willing to drive around a lot looking for them, but prices were generally low. They went sky high in the later 80s when fanzines started up and collectors connected, and some enterprising value-hounds made guides giving the books outrageous values to help sell their own for high prices.

Then the Internet,of course, changed everything in the 90s. Prices were high at first because so many collectors connected with sellers online, but that has certainly changed in the last 15 years since everybody and his grandmother who had books in the attic became dealers.

What's happened now in the 10s is that most series books are practically worthless, and it's happened with a lot of other collectibles, too. But most series books dealers don't want to admit this and see their huge inventories as having little, if any, value.

There are a couple booths on Bonanza with 500+ books in them, with ridicuolous 1990s prices. If you watch these booths, none of the books sell. I can't help but wonder what the point is of having a fab booth with fab books at out-of-date prices that no one will buy.

Things have changed a lot over the years and, right now at least, series books in general (except the very few 'hot' ones) are about as worthless as Norman Rockwell plates and Hummel figurines - and as numerous.

Those of you still trying to sell these books at 1990s (and even higher) prices sure do have a lesson to be learned.


Jennifer said...

You do have a point; some booths have little movement except for items that were sold on eBay getting deleted from Bonanza. The feedback profile says it all. Check that page for each Bonanza seller and see how many transactions have occurred. The total is now listed on the left side, even if no one has left feedback.

Unfortunately, some eBay buyers are still paying extreme prices, and I have to wonder why, especially considering that most prices are very low.

I have little patience for keeping books for years on end, so I end up selling them cheap after I have had them for too long. I am glad to report that I now have just a few (like two or three) of the first 30 or so books that I listed on Bonanza two years ago. I don't want to be one of the people who has stagnant stock for year after year.

Paula said...

I have a Bonanza question, so thought I'd ask it here. After putting my Bonanza booth on vacation over the holidays and adding some new listings in recent days, I reopened my Bonanza booth yesterday. Actually, late yesterday. Today, I checked my item views for yesterday, expecting to see zero really, and to my surprise, one of my new items had 217 views! This is way out of line with my booth and other item views. Any ideas where these views could be coming from? doesn't seem right. Thanks!

Jennifer said...

It could be a glitch, perhaps. I have read where sometimes the stats are not accurate. That would be my best guess.

The only logical reason would be if you or someone else tweeted that item or promoted it on Facebook. Whenever I have linked to a specific item from Facebook, its views are inflated for that reason. If no one did anything to promote that specific items, then it is probably just a glitch.

Another possibility that I just thought of would be if the item had been selected for one of the handpicked lists. You might check your "additional details" page or whatever it is called (linked to from your item stats page) and make sure you aren't in any handpicked lists.