Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The heat of the night, progressing turtle-like.

Well, it's been almost two months since the last entry. I'm still finding it hard to remind myself to add to the blog--I've never been the greatest email person, and I've hardly touched my Livejournal (for proof: see.).
But it's important to keep up with the FP Blog, as it's a way of reminding ourselves (and our supporters) that this whole venture is worth it.

So, to summarize:

Fantastic Planet has been online for over a year now, a nascent website that slowly grew; we added reviews, a snazzy interface, a bunch of reviews and images from the pages of Prescience (a zine I started back in '96), and some hopeful comments about selling books online and in a bricks N mortar store.

As of about 3 months ago FP began selling books online at Biblio.com and Alibris. For a few weeks we had no action (part of the reason was that it was taking time to add the books manually); then we had our first sale (see previous post), quickly followed by another and then another. It's been steady; we average one sale every 2-3 days (that's pretty good for a small, small store). It warms our hearts that people want the books we have. We do scouting for more books when time permits, and the occasional hunt for an obscure book when someone requests it.

But that's not enough.

We need to move into the next phase and that's to sell new books.

See, in publishing, used bookstores aren't viewed very highly. It has something to do with the fact that a) the publisher is not getting a cut of each sale, and b) the author is not getting a cut. Fair point. But for us there were several factors in why we began with used books:

It's easy to go to a goodwill, or garage sale, whathaveyou, and find something we know will be worth something to somebody. We make a reasonable profit from it (but make sure it's very fair to the customer), and it helps us build what we need: capital.

We don't have some rich uncle or Microsoft millionaire bankrolling us, so for us to get account with the publishers and distributors we need: credit.
A small loan is the solution to that problem (which we're working on right now). We've been trying to figure out how much we need to get an initial inventory and rent for the first 6-9 months of a bricks N mortar space.

And this is where we've run into a conceptual roadblock. We don't have the money, and are worried that we won't get a loan big enough to do what we envision. But we're working on a temporary solution. We can get a pay-as-you-go account with Ingram, and have a secure server company handle our online sales for new books (and the used). Sure, we may not instantly have the complete selection we desire, but we have to start somewhere, right?

So we've trimmed down the initial vision to something manageable while we work out that big loan to start-up.

I hear Warren Buffett is giving billions to the Gates Foundation. I wonder if he may have some chump change to toss in the direction of FP. Anybody know his email?

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