EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 272 - October 10, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

Collectors Launch Scribblemonger Book Selling Site

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Ron Holl and Scot Kamins, longtime friends and fellow collectors, created and launched the Scribblemonger website for booksellers last year. Holl is a Modern Library collector. Kamins has a PhD and has written several computer books and dozens of computer manuals, and he owns and operates, a site for collectors of the Modern Library series of books.

Kamins and Holl launched The Amenities of Modern Library Collecting a number of years ago. It had a buy/sell/trade area for collectors to trade their Modern Library books for free, giving them the idea for their new site, Scribblemonger. Holl said booksellers were tired of high fees, and they agreed on a new site with no listing fees and a 5% commission fee.

Scribblemonger now has 225 booksellers, garnered mostly through word of mouth. Holl said while booksellers are in competition, they also form a community. Scribblemonger leaves payment processing up to the individual booksellers. Holl said many sellers have merchant accounts or offer PayPal, and the site will soon begin offering Google Checkout as an option.

AuctionBytes: When did you launch the site?

Ron Holl: Scribblemonger was launched in December 2009.

AuctionBytes: Why did you start Scribblemonger - why the need for another bookselling site?

Ron Holl: Last year, several Modern Library collector/dealers contacted us about turning the buy/sell/trade area of Amenities into a general purpose book selling site. They had become disenchanted with the existing large sites such as ABE, Alibris, and Amazon (the 3As) for a number of reasons, including high costs to sell (both listing fees and sale commissions), fixed shipping fees and shipping fee holdbacks, commission applied to shipping fees, and lack of communication with buyers.

We worked with them to come up with what we felt was a fair fee structure such that the site itself could become profitable, and sellers would incur much lower costs to sell. The idea was that they could lower prices to the buyer and still generate the same or more profit. So, we settled on no upfront fees (no listing fees or annual fees) and a flat 5% commission with a $5 per book maximum. These rates are significantly lower than any other well known marketplace in existence.

After we launched the new Scribblemonger site, it was surprising to see how many booksellers shared this poor feeling about the primary book selling marketplaces. Feedback from sellers has been very positive. However, there is no getting away from the large marketplaces at this point in time, as that is where the traffic is. So, many sellers continue to list at several places, and discount the items they list on our site.

AuctionBytes: Is your site compatible with book inventory software, and which ones?

Ron Holl: Yes it is. We support uploads from BookTrakker, Prager, Software, Art of Book, World Book Market and Fillz, and support the following formats: HomeBase, UIEE, BookHound (6 and 7ce), Alibris, and Tab Delimited. Scribblemonger also supports most any custom format.

AuctionBytes: What are the advantages and key differences from other site?

Ron Holl: The primary advantage to using Scribblemonger is cost. Sellers incur much lower costs, and buyers can realize lower prices on the same items listed elsewhere from many of the booksellers.

We also are very responsive to bookseller issues and concerns, and view them as partners. However, as a book buyer myself (books that I sell are ones that I acquired due to my collecting activities), I keep the buyer interests in mind also.

AuctionBytes: How good is the SEO (exposure on sites like Google search results) for sellers' listings?

Ron Holl: We submit all listings to Google Product Search unless the bookseller has instructed us not to. All listings are also sent to Google, Yahoo, and Bing for inclusion in general searches.

AuctionBytes: What was your background before starting Scribblemonger?

Ron Holl: I have a Computer Engineering degree from Case Western Reserve University. My experience in the field is related primarily to data communications and networking (micro to mainframe communications a number of years ago and networking/factory automation in the industrial controls area currently).

In the web design area, I have developed a number of hobby sites including Amenities, and I assist Scot on some ModernLib design issues.

AuctionBytes: How many registered sellers and total users does ScribbleMonger have?

Ron Holl: There are currently 226 booksellers registered and almost 500 total users registered.

AuctionBytes: How many pageviews does your site get?

Ron Holl: 15,000 to 20,000 per month.

AuctionBytes: How are you funding the site, and how many employees do you have?

Ron Holl: The site is privately funded. We have 3 employees, that being people who are actively involved, and a fair number of consultants (aka booksellers who provide comments, suggestions, guidance, and the occasional cheer leading).

Scribblemonger Standard Membership lets users buy an unlimited number of books without paying any fees; they may also list up to 5 books (or booksets) per month, up to a total of 5 active listings at a time.

Premium Membership provides the same free, unlimited ability to buy books, and adds unlimited listing capability. While there is no fee for this membership (monthly, annual, or otherwise), there is a 5% commission on all sales with a maximum commission of $5.00 on any single item. Learn more at

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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