Firsts is not only the name of my favorite book-related magazine, Firsts.com and its printed sister, it’s also the significance of this particular blog entry. It’s the first in what I hope will be a very long running series of blogs relating not only to the book business in general, but in Memphis and Tennessee in particular. The literary heritage of the Mid-South is quite rich but little known and I hope to alleviate that somewhat. I intend for this blog to become a clearing house for book and author news throughout the region.

In the beginning this news will probably involve mostly news stories and my comments about them. Today’s topic will be what I consider the future of used book selling on the internet, but let’s leave that until after the introductions. As the blog develops I hope to have regular commentators and guests bringing their ideas and observations on board.

So, who am I and what qualifies me to write this blog? I’m Billthebookguy, aka BBG, your friendly neighborhood used bookseller. I have been selling used and rare books for more than 10 years now, first via the brick and mortar outlet of the Cordova Antique Market and, when that closed, totally through the internet. I sell on ABEbooks.com, Alibris.com, Amazon.com, Biblio.com and, most importantly, on WorldBookMarket.com. I have sold thousands of items on ebay.com but have quit that completely since ebay went berserk earlier this year and has begun treating sellers like criminals. (Did you know ebay had done that? If not, that’s a good reason to subscribe to this blog, that’s the sort of thing I’ll be detailing) In ebay’s place I now list at Bonanzle.com, thus the clever booth title http://www.bonanzle.com/booths/Billthebookguy. I have dabbled in a number of other sites, such as choosebooks.com and blujay.com. I’ve sold more than 30,000 books and bought more than that. What is most important, however, is that soon, very soon, Billthebookguy.com will finally become a reality.

This is a big deal, because while I love the idea of this blog and intend to work at it very hard, in the long run it will only be one component of a much larger site. I have the world’s best webmaster slaving to make it the world’s best website, so stay tuned.

And that segue brings me to the idea that will revolutionize the world of online selling: Worldbookmarket.com. How is WBM different? Unlike those other sites, who will let anyone with the requisite fees list anything they want (and if you believe those places enforce listing guidelines, you need to lay off of the animal tranquilizers), WBM is a consortium of dealers who mutually enforce a set of ethics and regulations for how to correctly sell used and rare books over the internet.

Or, put another way, if you order a hardback first edition of The Hunt For Red October in Fine condition with like dust jacket, you actually get what you expect and not an abridged audiobook on cassette, as happened to one fellow I have met. The sellers of WBM will all maintain their own websites which will be marketed under the banner of the WBM. Instead of paying ABEbooks outrageous listing fees approaching 20% in some cases, the dealers can perhaps offer discounts from their own websites, use better packing materials because the listing site isn’t taking a huge skim from the shipping and discover if you have any other interests they might help with. The WBM will be the middleman that cuts out the middleman.

It’s a great concept. It’s in its infancy but sure to grow. Visit the site, meet some of my friends from around the world. Say hello to Mrpickwick, you might receive a reply to savor. Ask him what it’s like to live in Katoomba, west of Sydney, the land of the Yowie. Or say hello to our mates in the UK, or in North Carolina. Meet the pros and love their books.

Okay, that does it for blog #1. Plenty more to come, so subscribe, let’s have some fun.