AE Monthly

Articles - May - 2005 Issue

Confessions of a Compulsive Book Packer

A0512

A finished book, ready to pack up in an envelope or box.


We all know that shipping can either be a profit-center for the book business, or a money pit. Shipping is always a balance between selecting the mode that will most please the customer vs. saving on the cost, particularly since many Internet sites make a habit of inadequately reimbursing sellers. I understand that shipping requires a kind of balance between the competing desires to do well for the customer and to take home a few dollars at the end of the day. There is no reason, however, to compromise on properly packing books.

The few extra minutes and nominal extra cost convey a powerful marketing message and help avoid returns -- the worst kind of transaction because you've not only spent the time and the money, but now you have to give it all back, roll back the credit card transaction, re-list the book, and replace it in your warehouse. It is unlikely you will have a return customer. Worse yet, you may get a bad evaluation on a public site like eBay or Amazon that slows sales. What does that cost?

Deeds speak volumes over words. A well-packed book conveys more to the customer than a fancy web site, expensive print materials, a brace of email thank-you's, or hollow customer service promises.

There is no shortage of places to buy packing materials; we use Viking Office Products here (www.vikingop.com). I personally enjoy the convenience of having an Internet account and getting next-day FedEx shipping at no charge with a nominal order, and we find their prices competitive. We order our postal packaging directly from the United States Post Office store at www.usps.com to avoid depleting our local branch. All USPS materials are free, including the shipping.

Most importantly, every book that goes out has a little unsaid message with it: we care about you, we are proud of what we do, we value this book and we want it to get to you safely. We appreciate your patronage. And, of course, we hope that you will return as our customer.

AE Monthly


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