Steve's blog

A blog about what's going on in Analysis UK...

Consumer book publishing

Veronis Suhler Stevenson today published a press release discussing consumer book publishing as well as other aspects of the communications/media sector.

For all those involved in the book industry, particularity the (internet based) used book aspect of it should find this interesting reading.

One piece that really interested me was the expected growth of the used books spending projection, which they estimate to be 25% compound annual rate over the next 5 years. So take the time to have a browse through the books you have listed on and have a think about when you last read the book and if you should be ticking the "For Sale" box as well so you can get some cash to buy more books…

Below is the Consumer Book Publishing forecast:

Total spending on new, used and online books will increase 2.7 percent in 2006 to $21.88 billion. The rise of used books is expected to alter the spending pattern on consumer books in the years to come. Spending on used books is projected to grow at a 25.0 percent compound annual rate over the next five years, reaching $2.25 billion in 2010. Record-setting demand for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, plus strong spending on titles related to the movie The Chronicles of Narnia, helped to boost total consumer spending on new books by 3.6 percent in 2005 to $20.48 billion. The used book market, limited primarily to small retail outlets, libraries and the neighborhood tag sales in the past, has become a more important factor in the consumer book market due to the Internet, jumping 25.0 percent in 2005 to $736.0 million. Used book spending pushed total spending on consumer books to $21.31 billion, a 4.4 percent increase over the 2004 level. The Consumer Book publishing industry is forecast to have total spending in 2010 of $24.9 billion.

Happy selling!


New RSS Feeds – publish your book collection online.

For sometime now has had RSS feeds for books that are for sale, if you look at the user’s profile of the book you are interested in you will see a RSS feed link. If you found that you were interested in the books that the seller had you could subscribe to the feed and keep an eye out for the latest books they had.

Alternatively for sellers you could use that RSS feed to add the books you were selling onto your own website. The links in the feed link right back to the book details page on where your customer could find out more details about the book and purchase it if they were interested. This meant all you had to do was add a simple RSS reader to your site and you were away.

Recently the RSS feeds available has been extended, the more observant will have noticed a "My RSS Feeds" link in the "My Account" section. From here you can configure special RSS feeds to publish your book collection.

On the right hand sidebar of this blog you can see an "I'm Reading…" and "My wish list" section, these are both automatically generated from a RSS consumer in the bloging software and feeds from

This screen shot shows a typical configuration of My RSS Feeds:

So if you would like your blog readers to know what books you are reading, or what ones you would like, or what books you have, if you are selling books or just want to list your entire book collection on your website then check out the MyRSS feeds.

The My RSS Feeds are also available on and so you can also list the CDs and DVDs you have, or like or would like.


Book Sale Directory Service.

A few days ago LRABooks launched Book Sale Scout, a web based book sale directory.

This looks like a great service to locate book sales, unfortunately for me it appears to be USA specific at this time, but then if you could see the books piled around me in my flat you might say it’s for the best!.

Check out more details on the Book Selling Online blog post and the follow up article reviewing the launch.

I have to say, being a programmer, developer, software engineer (or what ever other name you wish to use) I was a little disappointed to see their programmer getting some flack for a few of the early bugs.

No software application is without bugs (OK, maybe NASA have a couple of bug free apps, but most commercial stuff will have a few thrown in for free). Whilst us developers do our best to keep them out I personally believe it is ultimately the job of the tester to make sure the application is fit for purpose and operates in an acceptable manner.

Many small companies go without software testers, especially one person micro-ISV’s, but where ever possible someone other than the programmer should test the application before it gets released, us developers are too close to the code to be able to test properly.

So whilst I’m not surprised Book Sale Scout had a couple of bugs I am disappointed that the poor programmer got the blame so freely and not the tester or who ever decided to release the application.

Anyway, rant over and done with, check out Book Sale Scout it looks to be a promising resource for books and I wish them all the best success.

Also if your into selling books I can highly recommend Steve Webber’s Selling Books blog.


New SSL Certificates

I have update the SSL certificates on, and today.

These come from a different certificate provider this time.

The certificates are used during login, sale transactions and where personal identifiable data is being transferred to us. Please check the secure padlock on your browser to ensure these are OK when you are using https pages on the, and servers.

These changes should not cause any problems or be noticeable (other than by inspecting the certificate details).


Books Labels.

A few weeks ago Joel Spolsky blogged that he wanted a way to manage his company library.

One of the requirements was to be able to print out a label for his books. This struck a cord with me and I looked into the possibility of including this as part of

Now I should add that I own a Dymo LabelWriter 320, it’s a great label printer, easy to use, versatile, the labels are great, clear text and they stick really well to the packages.

Here’s what a 99012 address label with book data looks like:

I purchased the printer to print the address and stamp labels when I ship a book. Previously I’d been using 14 labels/ A4 sheet on an inkjet printer, this was really rather painful and I won’t tell you how many times I printed on a label that I’d already used, put the sheet in upside down and even put the sheet in, switched the printer on and found another document in the queue printing onto my labels – I did that a few times!.

I found only one commercial component package on Component Source that I thought would do the trick and I was all ready to write a .NET app to use that. However I realised that Dymo do add-ins for Word etc for the printer so I decided to search their website for a SDK.

The developers section wasn’t to hard to find and the SDK was quickly downloaded.

Dymo provide a very wide range of examples and good documentation for the SDK, even samples for Internet Explorer and FireFox.

It turns out to be quite easy to use the COM objects supplied by the Dymo software to automate label creation, and with the addition of a bit of JavaScript this can be made to print out labels from a web page.

I had problems with FireFox as it wasn’t happy creating the COM object due to security restrictions; I think I need to sign the JavaScript .js file. I will have to spend some more time investigating this.

So the result of all this is that earlier today (actually yesterday as it’s 2am now) I uploaded Item labeller for, and You can see how to use the Item Labeller in a posting on the community forum of

The labeller allows fields from your book, CD or DVD entry to be printed out, you can define different label definitions and store these in your ( and account.

I have to take my hat off to Dymo, I love the printer. The SDK and resources they provide for developers is great. Thank you Dymo! I will be buying another Dymo LabelWriter one day soon! (So I don't have to change labels and so I can test the Item Labeller better).

If you want to read the very lengthy thread of replies Joel got to his request it can be found here - some where about half way down is a post from me plugging :-D

BTW: Check out the “I’m Reading” and “My Wish List” in the sidebar on the right here, these come from RSS feeds generated from my account – more on that in a post soon.


Changes to postage options

It came to my attention that a number of members have listed their items for sale and left the national postage as “Ask”. Whilst I have no objection to this the one thing it results in is a poor sell through rate.

When a buyer looks to buy a item they will either not buy the item if they have to ask the seller what the postage would be, or they will just go else where and buy the book, CD or DVD, possible after requesting to buy from the seller, never returning to actually pay for it when the postage price has been clarified.

If the seller does accept payment through PayPal the buyer is unable to immediately pay for the item as it isn’t possible to include postage.

I appreciate some sites have a fixed postage rate which helps avoid this situation, but, and are intended to be more flexible to sellers and allow them to set a more appropriate rate if they wish, or to setup their own default rate.

With this in mind I have removed the option of setting "Ask" and "Not Available" postage amounts for national postage. All items currently listed with this will still be valid but when you come to edit them you will not be able to save the values until you correct the postage options.

Note that this is only for items that are listed for sale.

Please take the time to set up your preferences (MyAccount->Preferences) and set a default postage rate as this will help you when listing your stuff for sale.