Novelty rules

We have been looking recently at the question of what types of books sell best. We have no shortage of hypotheses. But the number of potential variables make it hard to do the analysis, let alone find any general guide.

Now we think we might have found one useful rule.

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Above average

In June we made 322 sales for a total revenue (including GST to make the numbers relatable) of $8,522. This means the average sale was $26.50, a bit above our usual of around 23 dollars. (Basically people usually buy about two books and they cost about 12 bucks each.)

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The view from 52 weeks

The bookstore generates a lot of data. Amongst other things, we know sales numbers, revenue, what kinds of books we sold, and how much each customer spent, as well as social media interaction, traffic to the website and the number of subscribers to our excellent podcast, Ears Wide Open.

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All our Christmases

December is the best month of the year for revenue at the Open Book. December 2017 was our best month ever and we made $11,000 (!), about 60 per cent more than October or November. Breakeven at the moment (with me donating two days a week to the store) is around $7,500.

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Bundling up

In September we made 274 sales. In November it was 268, practically the same. But revenue was over $1,000 more in November than September. The difference was in average spend per customer, which we call basket value.

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A tale of two sales

We hold a sale every three months. We take all the boxes of clearance books from the shed and put them on display. They are five bucks each or five for ten dollars. A steal. Between times we funnel good books that won't fit on the shelves into the clearance boxes and move on the less good ones, in preparation for the next sale.

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Overcoming obscurity

We are getting to the end of the beginning of this bookstore journey. The big physical changes are mostly made. The books are less numerous, better quality, and more orderly. We have run a few events and hired out the space a few times. The space is ready for people. The question is how to get them along.

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Straight from the horse's mouth

We post a book of the day on Facebook and on our website every day. We recently switched from posting to Facebook via the website to posting directly to Facebook. This means a little extra work: we have to create each post twice. But it turns out that content that we post directly gets nearly three times as much visibility on Facebook.

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Out of this world

Our brand promise is Out of this World. One of the ways we deliver on that promise is through our instore environment. Right on Ponsonby Road, but a million miles away in hustle and bustle. Here is the original wonky walkthrough video I sent to Julie a year ago. And another version I shot just now (I walked a bit quicker the second time soz).

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Volatility

We have a clear goal for the bookstore: to increase revenues to the point where we can cover our costs with staffing for seven days a week. Roughly that means doubling revenue from when we took it over. One thing that makes it hard to know how we are going is the volatility in the numbers. They jump around rather a lot.

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