Oudtshoorn, Western Cape South Africa (PressExposure) August 18, 2006 -- Norman Eaglestone and Justine Nofal have been dealing in books at their country bookstore in Oudtshoorn, Little Karoo, since 1997. They started trading books online in 2000.
âOnline book-selling has been a boon to small independent dealers who find it difficult to make a living exclusively from their brick-and-mortar shop,â said Norman, who used to be an art director in advertising in Johannesburg.
âHere in Oudtshoorn the busy time is summer when the town gets lots of up-country and overseas visitors, and of course during the Absa KKNK Arts Festival at Easter, when about a hundred thousands people descend on the town. The rest of the time is pretty quiet.
âThis is where online book trading was valuable to us. Right through the year we export books, mainly to Europe, the US, UK and Australia. We list our inventory on four major online book websites. We also source books for our customers from bookstores everywhere.â
Familiarity with the online book trading world led Norman and Justine, a freelance journalist, to think: âwouldnât it be nice to create website bringing together the largest, most popular, most reputable bookstores on a single page for easy searching and reference?â
âMost people when they think buying books online think of Amazon. After that they draw a blank,â said Justine âBut who knew, for instance, about a tremendous online bookstore called Book Closeouts in St Catharineâs, Ontario, Canada where the books are housed in an abandoned paper mill? Or Countrybookshop in the Peak District, Derbyshire, England, which stocks 3.2 million books?
âOr Biblio, based in Asheville, North Carolina? Itâs the brilliant ânew kid on the blockâ in online used book marketing. Then there is Abebooks, the largest secondhand online book market in the world. You can also search Alibris, which houses a couple million books kept in a small town called Sparks in Nevada, USA. We have also featured Kalahari in South Africa because we reckon they do great work in promoting online book buying.â
Including Amazon, there are about thirty major online stores in the English-speaking world which, combined, will soon offer a billion new and used, audio and textbooks. All of them feature at aBillionbooks. Most of the small, independent online booksellers feed their books into the site through one or other books market.
âThe challenge was to bring everything together on the page. Thanks to the internet and automation, as well as the web design and SEO (search engine optimization) skills of Patrick Heathcock at LiquidLimeStudios in Cape Town, whose put a massive amount of work into aBillionbooks, it has turned out exactly as we envisaged it.
âThe site has been up and running for only two months and already we are getting positive feedback from blogs and forums where we participate. We have strong advertising campaigns running on Google and Yahoo! People from are ordering books at these great bookstores via the site, so we are starting to see a commission flow. There is obviously a call for a shortcut to all the books in the world.
To find the book you want, all you need is internet access, call up http://www.abillionbooks.com, your credit card and a postal address, and you can find and buy that book. Each bookstore is featured on the homepage, with a full description and background to each store.
The website includes tips for online book buying, articles on book collecting and related subjects, and a book review section has just launched. A fortnightly newsletter keeps subscribers informed of book specials and imparts bits of online book gossip.