In response to the thousands upon thousands (what? Me exaggerate?) of inquiries about how the website is coming along, the answer is: it’s up and running. You can actually load up your shopping cart with under-priced goodies, and I can now actually process your credit card transaction. I know what you’re thinking, ‘wow, Bill is on the cutting edge, isn’t he?’ And, of course, the answer is ‘yes!’ I’ve got all the latest tech stuff down pat. I’m even thinking about getting a flatbed scanner, how’s that for cutting edge?

But the truth is that getting a website together without spending mega-dollars isn’t easy. I still can’t edit the thing myself (not that I could even if I could) but supposedly that day is coming soon. There’s all sorts of changes I want to make. However, at this point it at least functions as a fully operational ecommerce site. And why’s that important? Because this removes the middleman from between me and my customer. As time has gone on, ABE, Alibris, Amazon, etc., have all made it harder and harder for the end user, you, to communicate directly with the seller, me. They don’t want us to know about each other, because if we deal directly with each other, they don’t get a cut of the transaction.

The eventual business model they would like to see is for me to go out and find all kinds of products to sell, using my money to buy them, and then me send them (at my expense) to their warehouse, where they will then sell them and ship them and send me a cut. In other words, have me do all the work while they collect much of the money. Think it won’t happen? It already is, in the form of Fulfillment by Amazon. And if you enter that world, you enter the surreal realm of books described as ‘Good’, or ‘Acceptable’ or, God forbid, ‘Standard.’ In bookseller parlance, ‘Good’ is the lowest collectible grade and means ‘not so good.’ If books described this way really are ‘Good’, then that means they are in bad shape. But if the seller actually means they are in a better condition, then by using the wrong term you know they are a hobby seller and don’t actually know anything about books. In which case, why do you trust them to describe one accurately?

‘Standard’ means…well, I have no idea what it means. As far as I know ‘Standard’ is a type of transmission and has nothing to do with a book. What really is amusing, though, is the term ‘Acceptable’. To whom, exactly, is the book ‘Acceptable’? Who makes this judgment? The truth is, ‘Acceptable’ has no more meaning than ‘Standard’, but it’s the value that Amazon automatically applies to many book conditions, regardless of what the seller says. Why? Because some programmer with no knowledge of books whatsoever made that decision, and Amazon is too big to care whether it’s accurate or not.

Which brings us back to my website, and others like it. The World Book Market is a consortium of booksellers from around the world who feel that properly described books at fair prices will always have a place in the world. We want knowledgeable customers to have a place to buy books where they may be confident that the seller knows what he or she is doing, and if there is a problem, then it will be handled promptly. Membership is invitation only.

Yeah, I know. How did I get in? All I can tell you is that you can fool some of the people, some of the time.