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From 0 to 10,000 listings in seven years. That’s how many books and other media the Friends online sales team has listed on eBay since the group’s inception in 2015, according to team leader Gail Rapp.
“I think it’s hard to appreciate how much commitment that kind of volume requires from a team of volunteers who get nothing personally from their efforts other than the satisfaction of helping people find their favorite books and generating funds to support the library,” she said.
As with most good ideas, the online sales effort started small with one volunteer, Laurel Ingram, selling textbooks. Soon after, another volunteer, Nancy Harper, proposed that they “go bigger” and begin listing the more collectible and valuable books on eBay to reach more customers and save the sometimes fragile books from the rigors of being moved repeatedly and mysteriously disappearing from book sale events.
So, Harper assembled a team of five, developed procedures, and established a very modest original goal of $50 in sales per month. However, sales were better than anticipated right from the start and, in recent years, monthly sales totals have regularly exceeded $3,500, or even $4,000, as the team has grown in size, with specialists who do research to establish a book’s value, photograph the books for the posting, list the information and pictures on the eBay marketplace, and package and ship the prized possessions to buyers.
Listings have expanded beyond books to include other media, such as CDs, DVDs, comics, magazines and laser disks. And, Rapp said the numbers tell the story best when it comes to appreciating all the effort that has gone into achieving 10,000 listings.
“A rough calculation indicates that between 500,000 and 750,000 used books were handled by our sorters and that they identified 200,000 books for us to research,” she said. “Our photographers took and saved over 100,000 pictures of the books, and our listers invested more than 1,000 hours posting them on eBay.”
She added that they sell nearly 80 percent of the books they list, which means the packers and shippers had nearly 8,000 books to mail out to buyers. The money from these sales support expansion projects and programming needs for the Cascade Library and KDL.
“All of this begins with the generosity of community members who donate their books to the Friends,” Rapp said. “We welcome any donations and promise that every book, magazine, DVD and CD is looked over, sorted and placed where it can do the most good for the community. No donated book ever ends up in a landfill.”
Friends President Joe David said that it was virtually impossible to adequately thank the volunteers who have turned a good idea into eye-popping results. “It’s a perfect example of a couple of creative volunteers who, with the help of many other volunteers, turned a rough concept into a very concrete and significant revenue-generating outcome for the Friends and the library.”
A children's book from the author of "The Wizard of Oz" was the 10,000th listing.
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