I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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Communiteabooks.com has been an ongoing process for a long-time coming. Several years ago, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog entries, I started selling books online at abebooks.com, and I focused, primarily, on collectible (signed, first editions, etc.) fiction. It was an excellent step towards learning how to sell product online, and to understand my market. As I learned what people where interested in, and how to list books in a way that people expected my business increased steadily, and, at the time, I was in a relationship with a woman that had two kids living with us and a third in college: I was maintaining a full-time job, as well as being a full-time stepparent, and trying to manage finding books, uploading them, processing the orders, and packaging and shipping them. My, of course, became exceptionally difficult. I tried to start my own website and take on the challenges of developing an online bookstore back then, but I just couldn’t do it.
When I moved back to Boerne, Texas I discovered that I not only the time, but an opportunity to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore, Wardrobe Books in The Boerne Emporium on Main Street, a three story multi-vendor shop in the center of town. Business there was better than I could have imagined. I did some minor marketing, and attended a handful of Chamber Ribbon Cuttings and Mixers. After a few short months business had become almost more than one person could maintain. Working also as a freelance short story writer, writing articles, and maintaining a music column for The Hill Country Weekly, as well as helping Steve Artale with catering, at the Hungry Horse.
Until that point Wardrobe Books was a project, only. In the sense that I was able to offer a small used bookstore to the community of Boerne, but it wasn’t something that could maintain, and support my livelihood. Wardrobe Books was also, always, only a means to an end. CommuniTea Books is the dream, my seven year the goal. Wardrobe Books, though time consuming, and personally rewarding would never support me, or a family.
When The Boerne Emporium sold unexpectedly, and everyone in it was removed, I felt uncertain--lost. Yes, it was a project, but it was a project that was supposed to lead me to the steps of CommuniTea Books. I worked for a bookstore in Santa Fe, and, at one point, one location would no longer be available, and the store would have to move. The patrons gathered together and all but established an assembly line passing books from one person to another until they found their home on the shelves of a new store. I could imagine that happening between Wardrobe Books and Communitea Books.
I considered starting a website as I boxed my books up and carried bricks down the two flights of stairs to my car, but no host allowed me to import the 1000+ books I had as an export file from abebooks.com when I closed that account. The idea of uploading every book again, and the hundreds more that I had collected since was overwhelming.
I looked for other avenues to pursue CommuniTea Books. And for one reason or another each faced hurdles, so, in the meantime, I thought "whatthehell", it could be fun. Sorting through all my books again: looking at them, touching them, smelling them, old memories returning. I sat down, and a built a website, and the process is ongoing, nevertheless I’m proud of what it has become so far.
I sit on my couch, my back and neck braced, my legs up, multiple stacks of books on the table next to me, an electric drink warmer with a mug of homemade ‘Golden Milk:’ turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, milk (and a few other spices), and I type the information of each book into a database on the backend of my website host. I decide the price based, first, on the type of book: New, Used, Remainder, Rare, or Collectible. New books are, obviously, listed at list price. Used books I start at 50% list price. Remainder books start at below 50% list price. And I look at the condition of each book, the books market value, and more and the price is affected as such. Rare and Collectible Books are decided my market value and condition—and I stay below the average market value for that particular title depending on the condition of the book. For every book, I do this. I now have 1100 books listed at communiteabooks.com, and I’m still going strong listing.
Building the website and marketing as I go, I sit at my couch, sipping my Golden Milk, putting each book in a box and labeling it, so I know where to look once a book has been ordered I list books. In the background, more often than not, I have Pandora playing, lately it’s been African Drum music—Djembe music. Sometime I’ll listen to James McMurtry radio, Brown Bird, or Andrew Bird radio. I finished the entirety of Parks & Rec, it’s a good show but not nearly as good as The Office, if you ask me. They give each other a lot of shit in The Office but there is a genuine comradery there; Parks & Rec everyone is pretty nasty to one another, and every now and again, when it seems to be getting to be too much someone will say, “Well, everything aside, you know I love you.” And it’s supposed to be a forgiving and understanding moment. Tom, played by Anziz Ansari, always does the wrong thing, every time. Without fail, especially in public, pushing himself, being selfish, and later alone with whomever he wronged, he says something along the lines of, “I’m sorry. I know I messed up. I’m just insecure, or I have nothing, or I always seem to fail…” and everything is supposed to be cool again. AAAHHH! Dude, you suck, because of how you act in public, change that, and you won’t fail… come on. It’s irritating, sorry, right BOOKS…
This website has been my baby. You can always feel free to contact me. If you are looking for a book, I will find it for you, whether I have it in stock or not, and if I have to order it I’ll add only $1 to the cost of the book, which is to say, that when all is said and done, the profit margin for me is only $1. I do this as a service and you, the customer, shouldn’t have to pay more for that service. I will research and find anything you’re looking for: an old, leather copy of Pride & Prejudice under $20? I’ll figure it out. Book Appraisals? I offer it. Book Club Reading Ideas? Absolutely.
And soon I will begin taking used books from you, if you want a place to send them, I’ll take them. I’ll offer store credit for anything available online, or that I might have to order. If you are looking for cash for your books, I’ll evaluate them, and make an offer. I’ll accept donations. I’ll send books to schools, shelters, and various programs.
Today I’ll have added a handful of Audio Books, and have created a new section link directly off the home page to view them. And if you have any suggestions, let me know.
The communiteabooks.com website will lead us to the stairs of CommuniTea Books, and I’ll follow it all the way.