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Sales, Swaps, Auction & Approvals/Approvals Disc. : Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
16 Feb 2016
01:28:35pm
Re SOR (Stamporama) Approval Books: I am NOT suggesting anything yet.
I am asking for your opinion, sellers and buyers alike. Here are some random thoughts to think about, and to provide some feedback:

We currently have over 950 Approval Books to chose from.
When Approval Books were first introduced, the philosophy was to let as many people try it as possible and to find out from experience what works and does not. Also to appeal to beginner as well as advance collectors.
So we set up some very loose rules, and have been very permissive about most books.

But we now have had Approval Books running (very succesfully I may add) for over 2 years! I would not be surprised if I could measure it, that we are approaching the 1 Million listed stamp mark in the Approval Books platform! That is a lot, especially since Books continue to sell so well.

I am suggesting that we discuss IDEAS to make Approval Books even better, without imposing more burdens or rules, just for their own sake. So here are some thoughts to ponder about, and I am asking for feedback from sellers and buyers alike, to IMPROVE Approval Books. And feel free to add more topics to my preliminary list

1. We have already started to cap the life of Approval Books at 1 year. But is 1 year too long? How long should Approval Books remain active before being removed?
2. We have software retiring books that are 100% sold out. But a book 80%, or 90% sold out generally does not create much interest, so at what % sold should we retire books that are depleted. Think percent sold AND duration since the last sale.
3. Should we retire books that have had no sales for 3? 6 or ?? Months
4. We have a rule of 100 stamps per book (with some listed exceptions). Is it too low?
And if so, what should be our minimum book size?
5. We also have a rule of no more than 3 similar stamp per book. Should we have the 100 stamp rule modified to read 100 different stamps per book, rather than 100 stamps.
6. Should we require a more orderly Approval Book presentation. Now, some add cat numbers, or years, some organize the books sequentially and some books are just thrown together haphazardly. Should we tighten up our standards? And if so, how?
7. The APS Books requires information for each stamp (cat number, year, cat value, etc..), but our Books require none. Should we require some info? per stamp? per page or ?
8. Stamps are all priced alike per page in SOR Approval Books, but people have skirted the issue by creating Book pages with just one or a few stamps priced individually. Anyone has an issue with this, and if so, how do we address it?
9. Should we cap the number of books any member can list, annually, or monthly?
10. Approval Books were created initially to encourage the trading of stamps, the lower costs ones in particular. But we had never capped the price of the expensive stamps that find their way in Approval Books. Should we impose a cap, and if so what max price?
11. ...please add more topics if you have suggestions....

Some will say, if it ain't broken, don't fix it...but I say: we have played with SOR Approval Books for 2 years now, under very open rules as we explored and encouraged the use of a new platform never tried before on line. Time to apply what we have learned. Please list any additional ideas or topics when you respond.

My personal goal is to clarify the language of our rules, and to implement some changes in the next several months, with the guidance of the VCs, and above all seeking your advice as sellers and buyers. Then to make the changes, if and when needed.

It is my goal to implement them and test them before I pass on the Moderator role to someone else.

Rrr...

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Ningpo
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16 Feb 2016
01:43:31pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Quote:

"10. Approval Books were created initially to encourage the trading of stamps, the lower costs ones in particular. But we had never capped the price of the expensive stamps that find their way in Approval Books. Should we impose a cap, and if so what max price?"



May I ask why it would be necessary to impose a cap? If buyers find the price too high they don't buy.

OR...

Is it that you are trying to prevent the situation arising, where too many higher priced books are sitting in the approvals unsold, or selling too slowly?


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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
16 Feb 2016
01:55:35pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I am just asking a question.

It is partly my concern that it should not become a commercial site, and as more dealers leave other selling sites such as Bidstart, ebay etc... it may fall into that trap. And dealers are not interested in the nickel and dime stuff. And Approvals, with no cap on time or price, become de facto stores!

But I also have a secret agenda...Big Grin Rolling On The Floor Laughing
I would like to see a platform for the better stamps on SOR. Something NOT Approval Books and NOT Auctions. But this is a long way off, if ever.

So please address only the question: Should Approval Books (intended to facilitate the trading of (mostly lower cost) stamps, be just that, or should they have no limit on what is being offered. Curious what the members, buyers and sellers think. and why.
rrr...

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Webpaper
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16 Feb 2016
02:03:13pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

First thoughts are sometimes best so I will take a stab at it from my perspective only.

1. We have already started to cap the life of Approval Books at 1 year. But is 1 year too long? How long should Approval Books remain active before being removed?

I think 1 year is about 6 months too long .Given the few sales after the first week I also think that it should not be considered poor taste to remove a book after two or three months.

2. We have software retiring books that are 100% sold out. But a book 80%, or 90% sold out generally does not create much interest, so at what % sold should we retire books that are depleted. Think percent sold AND duration since the last sale.

I think 75% and one or two months since the last sale.

3. Should we retire books that have had no sales for 3? 6 or ?? Months

3 months maximum

4. We have a rule of 100 stamps per book (with some listed exceptions). Is it too low?
And if so, what should be our minimum book size?


I think it is a reasonable number to allow for those countries with few stamps and avoid the necessity to go multi-country "regional".

5. We also have a rule of no more than 3 similar stamp per book. Should we have the 100 stamp rule modified to read 100 different stamps per book, rather than 100 stamps.

I think the rule is fine for the same reason as #4 above - plus with 19th century issues there can be legitimate condition and cancel interest in allowing for at least 3 of any one stamp.

6. Should we require a more orderly Approval Book presentation. Now, some add cat numbers, or years, some organize the books sequentially and some books are just thrown together haphazerdly. Should we tighten up our standards? And if so, how?

I would hate the thought of correctly watermarking and cataloging early Brazil, Hungary, and many other countries to sell stamps for 5c each.

7. The APS Books requires information for each stamp (cat number, year, cat value, etc..), but our Books require none. Should we require some info? per stamp? per page or ?

Same as above and what catalog would we use? What year values? If everyone had to go out and buy a set of catalogs it would likely cause a huge drop in participation. I try to put catalog numbers on everything over 75 cents net as a matter of courtesy but I am not sure that there should be a requirement.

8. Stamps are all priced alike per page in SOR Approval Books, but people have skirted the issue by creating Book pages with just one or a few stamps priced individually. Anyone has an issue with this, and if so, how do we address it?

People are not "skirting" the issue by creating book pages with only one, or only a few stamps - that is all they have. I just sold a single stamp on a page with a catalog value of $20 for $4 - it was the only one I had in that price range. Given that I have only ever sold a total of 1 or 2 items at auction after listing more than 100 over the past year or so it makes much more sense to put them in approval books so they can sell.

9. Should we cap the number of books any member can list, annually, or monthly?

Not sure of the reason unless it is preventing others from assembling books. Many people have more stamps than they will be able to list in a lifetime (myself included). I haven't seen a drop in percentage sold over the last year and a half so I'm not sure that we are diluting sales without setting a limit.

10. Approval Books were created initially to encourage the trading of stamps, the lower costs ones in particular. But we had never capped the price of the expensive stamps that find their way in Approval Books. Should we impose a cap, and if so what max price?

For some reason I can't sell stamps/covers at auctions here. When I move them to Ebay they have a decent sell through rate often bringing several times what I listed them for here. If I put them into approval books the sell through rate is satisfactory if I have done my homework. In looking at past sales it is generally the more expensive stamps that sell first in my approval books.

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Soundcrest
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16 Feb 2016
02:08:32pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Wow. What a lot to consider. An awful lot of questions so I'll try to simply give the # and a comment

#1-3 I have stated before that for the most part for my books after the first month they see little if any action. The problem is there is probably at least for me, as much work in breaking down a book as there is putting it up. What do you do with the stamps that didn't sell? If they are between 0.50 and 1.00 they will wind up in my weekly penny auctions. The rest go to stock cards to eventually be put into stores. Because of this lack of interest after a month, I tend to hold back inventory to repopulate books after 3 months or so, when I can. It has been proven time and time again that doing this you get sales from the old stamps that are still in the book.

#4-5. Over 100 stamps is tough. 100 different stamps could be impossible in some cases. I have potential books where I have 80-90 stamps on album pages and I can't do anything with them until maybe I get other album pages from that country to make a book. My own feeling is that people don't like multiple countries in a book unless they are French Colonies and even then 3 countries max. The 24 page limitation is a problem. Many times I have been able to put only 3 sets to a page. That makes for a very small book. If that could be increased to say 36, it would help a great deal. As an aside, I hate duplication and only use it when I have to try to get the numbers up close to 100.

#6-7. The problem with adding catalog numbers is that you need a Scott catalog. Maybe every member has them but they are becoming cost prohibitive. With the possibility of Scott going single country it will become worse. To add all the information that the APS requires would greatly limit the number of approval books. Speaking only for myself, having to put in the year and catalog value for each stamp on a 5 or 10 cent page would add hours to the process. Of course if you went full APS that would be different. Then you could put stamps of various catalog values on each page and personally (and I suspect for others here as well) I could then convert my stock from other stores and bring it over here, repopulating books as they sell off. That would be ideal. Work to be sure but the overall benefits would be huge to both the buyer and seller. Sellers would not have to keep taking down books, and buyers would have a reason to check back on these older books (if they were told to do so). It would be helpful to be able to renumber the book if you made significant additions - or deletions if you think that there is no point in keeping certain stamps in your books any longer.

#8 - There has to be times that you can't put more than a couple of stamps on a page once you get to catalog values of over say $3.00. I hate to do that - waste a page on one stamp but unless there is a plan to allow us to create books with a title of "Worldwide Mint & Used Catalog Values of $5 and Up" then I don't think it would be possible to put a minimum number of higher catalog value stamps on to a page. Of course you could beat that by just putting a bunch of 5 cent stamps after the $5 stamp knowing full well no one would buy them. Sort of defeats the purpose.

#9 - I don't think there should be a cap on the number of books per month, but if you went full APS mode (multiple cv's on each page), it would probably take a good 7-8 hours at least to make up one good book.

#10 - I have heard the minimum CV stamps in books the rest at auction idea, and while it's good I know there are people who want to buy stamps right now and not wait to see if they win the stamp at an auction. A couple of my buyers do buy the expensive stamps in my books which is why I put them there.

That's my two cents (for now). I realize I am giving you more of a dealer perspective than a collector. I know full well the cry of "but we have always done it that way" but I think if in the end the members can vote on the proposals, probably one at a time (so we are not like the government with one bill and 100 riders) some changes will occur.

Greg


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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
16 Feb 2016
02:16:41pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Good feeback, and I am looking for lots more..And let us hear it from buyers too.
rrr...

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
16 Feb 2016
02:20:19pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Ralph, some good thoughts there. Here are my comments to start things off:

1 - I think 1 year is fine. Other suggestions you made will help relieve the problem of having a large number of active books.

2 - I'd say drop it down to 90% and see how many books drop off the list as a result. If it doesn't help, then go to 80%, but I wouldn't go below that amount. If you go with the minimum size of a book, 90% means just 9 stamps in the book. I agree that there probably wouldn't be much interest in such books.

3 - I thought there already was an auto closure for inactive books. I don't remember the time frame with that, but 6 months seems right.

4 - I always thought that 100 was too much, but I can live with that as there are acceptable variances from that rule. I would not increase the minimum size.

5 - no

6 - The programming for the approval books doesn't permit pricing for individual stamps. (No slight upon our web wizard for that. It was a huge undertaking just to program the approval books platform, and I understand that it would be a logistical nightmare to have that function.) That in itself leads to a hap-hazard method of putting together books. With the different catalogs being used to ID stamps, and even some put together their books using album page layouts, which arrangement format would be acceptable? Too restrictive. I think that poorly put together books will fall dormant and be auto-closed by the system.

7 - While the approval books mimic the APS sales books, they do not emulate them. I would say to leave identification of individual stamps optional for the seller. I see no reason, however, why they can't add an overall description in the page information section. Also, I believe that any defects on a stamp must be identified in the corresponding space for that stamp.

8 - No, I don't have any issue with that. It is because of the inability to individually price each stamp on a page that this happens. What I have found is sellers will put one or two items on a page when the price is higher and they don't have many stamps of the price. Also, many instances of this are sets.

9 - Never

10 - No price cap

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whitebuffalo
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16 Feb 2016
03:42:25pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

As a newbie buyer on the approvals, I found the experience very enjoyable.

Locating the countries I wanted to look at was a breeze and the number of stamps and/or pages was no real problem. Scrolling up and down the page to see if a stamp I wanted was sold or not was a bit taxing, especially in books that were 50%+ sold. However, I did find several stamps in books that were 80-90% sold. I overcame the former problem by scrolling down to the sold/purchased area on these pages and jotting down the numbers that were still available and then scrolling up to see if any of those numbers were stamps that I wanted. If this could be improved on, it would be a great help.

As far as pricing goes, I was glad to see a fairly diverse range of values and all were very much in line with what I think the current market values were, many were even much cheaper. Part of the enjoyment was knowing that on occasion, there might be one or two higher value stamps in the mix, even if it was only a couple on a page. The fact is, it led me to purchasing a few higher value stamps simply because they were there while I was shopping and it's very likely that I may have passed up those stamps on a singular basis in another venue. At least temporarily. (if you want to complete a collection, they all have to be acquired eventually, right?)

Of coarse, this is all based on my experience with a couple of dozen books. But, it was a fairly diverse sampling and overall it seemed like the majority of (if not all) sellers were doing a fine job of listing their wares.

As with anything, there is always room for improvement. But from my initial experience, the basic system that's in place, worked out very nicely.

Now that it's being discussed, there is one thing I'd like to ask about. Is there a shopping cart in the approvals that I missed? If not, has it been discussed and/or rejected? A shopping cart with the ability to add or remove items before checking out seems like it would be a great addition. Just a thought.

WB

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philatelia
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APS 156650 25++ years!
16 Feb 2016
03:43:42pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Thank you, Ralph, for asking the sellers and buyers to voice their opinions. What a great idea to brainstorm possible improvements!

IMHO; I am firmly in the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" camp. Our approvals are wildly successful. I would ask that we stand back and ask do we REALLY need to impose more rules?


Re the 100 rule;

I believe that the 100 limit is a bit arbitrary, but doesn’t seem to be causing too much hardship. I would prefer to lower it a bit to allow listing books for specialized areas that don’t have a great deal of material. As it is, sellers are forced to combine different areas. Let’s say I’m interested in Hawaii - in order for a seller to meet the 100 rule, they must toss in other stuff that I must wade through in order to find the Hawaii. I think the rule should NOT apply to areas that issued so few stamps. Please see my idea below about a waiver category.


Re the suggestion to close books if they are 90% sold out;

Fine BUT only for books that have been online for at least three months. Many sellers work and redoing the books all the time is extremely time consuming. Let’s give them at least a 3 month window.


Re the suggestion to require a set organization, or catal
og numbers;

OMG NO! Can you imagine how long it would take to number and sort 100 colorful topicals? All for a 10c stamp? And everyone likes to arrange and organize things differently. Just whose system would we consider the gold standard? And what catalog would we use? Scotts? Who can afford to buy a complete set anyways? This would be impossible for beginners.


Re limiting the number of books a seller
can list;

NO - This is self -correcting. Who has the time to submit a bazillion books anyways?


Re requiring all items to be d
ifferent;

No. I like being able to pick from two or three different cancels. That said, three is plenty for exactly similar items. This can be tricky - what if the book is for different cancels on the same stamp - does that violate the rule?


Re damaged material in the books;

This is a tough area to police and right now we rely on the sellers to police themselves. Perhaps we could turn this lemon into lemonade and make a fun competition to nominate sellers for a “quality” ribbon or badge. Winners could display their “ribbon” on the front page of their books in the descriptive area. Ribbons could be awarded monthly or quarterly by the approval guru or voted for by the membership or whatever. Trying to earn quality ribbons might encourage sellers to improve.


An idea; create a waiver category for specialized books and certain exceptions

Some material is very specialized. It might be MONTHS before someone who is interested in, oh let’s say, stationery from Upper Slobovia. Perhaps we could create a special category to accommodate the specialists. We could have a waiver for books in those categories. For example, I would like to create a book that has all the booklet pane positions that are listed in a Michel catalog for the Japanese booklets. It might be months before another person who collects those corners and sides comes by to browse. Perhaps this waiver category could also be indicated when the book contains items like covers and blocks that preclude the book from being able to meet the 100 items requirement. In short this would allow stricter rules for common stuff and more lax rules for advanced philatelic material. I believe that change would encourage the super advanced philatelists to submits books of material. It could actually be cool to just LOOK at books of this caliber of material!



Consider a beginner’s thoughts. We don’t want to make submitting an approval book into some highly difficult process. Don’t we want to encourage the newer collectors to sell so that they can afford to expand their collections? By making it too complicated, we might lose them and those folks are the future of the hobby. I do agree that books that contain a mishmash of overpriced extremely common material are not helpful. Instead of imposing rules, how about creating a form letter outlining the hallmarks of a GOOD approval book encouraging and educating new sellers on ways to make a better book and generate more sales. Maybe we could have an approval “mentor” to help newbies improve their books in a friendly, helpful way.


Consider this; WHY is having lots of books to chose from a bad thing? Wasn’t that the original goal? Weren’t we trying to create a library of material to chose from? The APS has thousands of books on file - why are we shuddering at the thought of drawing near our first 1,000 books?


Re imposing new rules;

PLEASE before any changes are made stop and consider that the system as it stands is very successful and everyone is currently HAPPY and folks are buying and selling with joy. I would be very hesitant to impose a bunch of unnecessary rules on a system that is functioning beautifully. And consider this - beginners and others who submit poorly constructed approval books don’t sell very much. They either learn and change to start selling more or they just don’t sell enough to justify the time and energy. Because of this, the system is self-correcting. It is like the free-market system. Just how much “government regulation” do we really need to impose?


Thanks for reading my ideas. Sorry to be so wordy, but this is an extremely important issue to me. LOL and for some reason I can't get the "bold" stuff to work right sorry about that!

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
16 Feb 2016
03:47:52pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

WB,

There is no shopping cart feature on Stamporama. Once you buy an item in either the approvals or auctions, it is yours.

One thing you can do to avoid the scrolling up and down is to open another tab on your internet browser. That way you can use one tab to view the stamps at the top of the page, and use the other tab to view the purchasing section at the bottom of the page. That way you'll only have to toggle back and forth between the tabs. Just make sure that you're on the same page with both tabs. Otherwise, you'll wind up looking at stamps from one page and buying the stamps from another.

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whitebuffalo
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16 Feb 2016
04:13:48pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I hadn't thought of that Michael, I'll give it a try next time around.

Thanks,

WB

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purrfin2
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16 Feb 2016
04:35:13pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

My 2 cents worth of sharing and thank you for asking our opinions.

1 - Life 6 months. Some of us are still working and need some time for a real life.

2 - Let the books be.

3 - See #1

4 - Leave at a minimum of 100. Albeit some countries are hard for me to reach that mark.

5 - 3 similar with an overall total of 100.

6 - No requirements; leave it up to the seller to organize books - not all have Scott/SG catalogs.

7 - no information

8 - No issue - seller wants to sell one stamp on a page for $3 let them do it.

9 - No

10 - No



I also feel the sellers need to be aware how well the books are doing and let them take the books down early or leave for awhile. I've had some books with no sales for a few months and someone bought a bunch of stamps.

Luree

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cardstamp
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16 Feb 2016
07:30:21pm

Approvals
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I did not look at what anyone else said before I decided to answer the questions - so I would not be influenced by anyone else's comments.

1) I think one year is too long. I personally remove my books 4 months after I post them. I have been marking them on sale for a week or so before I delete them but I may be stopping that since it does not appear to generate anymore interest anymore.

2) I started to drop books earlier if they are 80% or more sold out and I do not wait for the 4 month mark. I have found more of an advantage to take what is left and either merge it with additional material and put up a new book - or take the leftovers and put the lot up in Auction.

3) I think the answer to #1 applies here as well.

4) I think 100 is a good minimum although I usually go over but sometimes for certain countries it is hard to get to 100.

5) Most of the time I do not include many duplicates. Sometimes I will include a Mint Hinged Copy and a Used copy of the same stamp - or if I think the stamp is more than a common issue and I have more than one I include duplicates to give more than one buyer a chance to select it. I think in some cases it would be difficult to meet the 100 stamp threshold if you could not have some duplicates.

6) I try to organize my books in year ranges and break it up into multiple books instead of covering a larger range of years. It is hard to get it in exact order. I also just started adding Scott #'s to some of my approval books. So far I do not think it has made a difference in my sales. I would not want that to be a requirement especially on lower catalog value items.

7) I would not be happy to be required to add information. Adding the Scott # has been time consuming but I am doing that when I can now but I still like the option to not include the number. I would never want to add catalog value or add the year of the stamp as required information.

8) When I put up an approval book I started with the lower cost stamps 10 or 15 cents and then add pages for the higher price points. As you get to the higher amounts I may only have a handful of stamps at that range. I do not think I should drop them because for the more advanced collector - the higher priced items may be the ones they need. There is already a total # of pages limit - so you could not have many pages with a couple of stamps to adhere to the total of 100 stamps anyway.

9) Well since I probably put up more books than most - I should say no do not put any caps. However, if everyone decides there should be a limit - I would not object. I think if there is a limit is should be an annual one - however I am not sure how you would keep track of the total by person. The bigger problem is how do you set a limit ? Maybe the limit should be a total # of books active at one time. That would make you take one down to put a new one up !

10)I do not think there should be a max cap. However I have found the higher I go the less chance anyone selects them. I have been starting to put up auctions at the same time as the new approval book for the higher priced items. It is rare that anyone has bought a stamp for more than $3.00 here either in approval books or auctions.

Steve

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
16 Feb 2016
08:15:27pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

First off, I will say that the approval book software is pretty darn cool! I saw it as the modern way to do approvals since postage back and forth is prohibitive today.

I wouldn't change anything. I don't hear anyone complaining.

I am more a cover person than a stamp person so I put up three cover books of USA older town cancels as an experiment back in August. Immediately the best pieces that I hid in them were cherry picked. I put 48 covers (2 per page) in each book at $1 each. I put them up around August 10th, and by September 2nd I had sold only 22 covers out of 144 available. Then they sat.. in February someone bought a 16 covers, so I sold 38 covers or 26%.

I noted that each book took me 2-3 hours to produce, between selecting material, scanning and uploading the pages. No way did the $38 in sales pay for this time, nor did I expect it to. Like I said, this was an experiment and I suspected the outcome. I did it for fun, and hoping to meet some folks on the board with similar interests. I also wanted to get covers that had laid dead in my boxes into collections where they'd be appreciated.

I wouldn't be trusting high dollar items here, you'd get much better action on eBay. I have been finishing up my USA 1920s and earlier mint commemoratives, which are scarce here, but more than plentiful at the 'bay. I've been buying clean well centered stamps at reasonable prices.

In conclusion, nobody is earning a living here. If folks are doing this for fun than it's all good. There is nothing wrong with the software or the rules. If anything, the one thing missing is decent traffic.



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Stevo45
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17 Feb 2016
12:25:46am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

“Improvements” ? Really ..?

Is there a reason for change?

I have seen quite a few web sites improved out of existence..

Do we REALLY need to impose more rules?
Does anybody have a problem with the Approval Books as is?
WHY is having lots of books to chose from a bad thing?
Don’t you want a library of material to chose from?
Why not a 1,000 Approval Books?



1. We have already started to cap the life of Approval Books at 1 year. But is 1 year too long? How long should Approval Books remain active before being removed?

A change is not needed.

2. We have software retiring books that are 100% sold out. But a book 80%, or 90% sold out generally does not create much interest, so at what % sold should we retire books that are depleted. Think percent sold AND duration since the last sale.

A change is not needed. But if you must - Then try 90% and see how many books drop off the list as a result.

3. Should we retire books that have had no sales for 3? 6 or ?? Months

A change is not needed.

4. We have a rule of 100 stamps per book (with some listed exceptions). Is it too low? And if so, what should be our minimum book size?

A change is not needed.

5. We also have a rule of no more than 3 similar stamp per book. Should we have the 100 stamp rule modified to read 100 different stamps per book, rather than 100 stamps.

Absolutely not… A change is not needed.

6. Should we require a more orderly Approval Book presentation. Now, some add cat numbers, or years, some organize the books sequentially and some books are just thrown together haphazerdly. Should we tighten up our standards? And if so, how?

Absolutely not… A change is not needed.

7. The APS Books requires information for each stamp (cat number, year, cat value, etc..), but our Books require none. Should we require some info? per stamp? per page or ?

Absolutely not… A change is not needed.

8. Stamps are all priced alike per page in SOR Approval Books, but people have skirted the issue by creating Book pages with just one or a few stamps priced individually. Anyone has an issue with this, and if so, how do we address it?

A change is not needed.

9. Should we cap the number of books any member can list, annually, or monthly?

NO. Never.. A change is not needed.

10. Approval Books were created initially to encourage the trading of stamps, the lower costs ones in particular. But we had never capped the price of the expensive stamps that find their way in Approval Books. Should we impose a cap, and if so what max price?

NO. Never.. A change is not needed.

10 - No price cap

NO. Never.. A change is not needed.

11. ...please add more topics if you have suggestions....

Maybe a “Shopping cart” could include items from both Approvals and the Auctions?

Maybe a “mentor” system could help newbies improve their books

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
17 Feb 2016
01:40:51am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

When we don't ask for input we get blasted. When we do ask for input we get blasted. And then some wonder why we just go ahead and get things done as we deem necessary. At Wits End

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Stevo45
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17 Feb 2016
01:49:22am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Quote:

"When we don't ask for input we get blasted. When we do ask for input we get blasted. And then some wonder why we just go ahead and get things done as we deem necessary. At Wits End "




Just re-read the posts here - Don't see any one "blasting" - just honest and some passionate opinions..

Is that not what you want?

Steve.
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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
17 Feb 2016
01:53:40am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

No Michael..no problem...we are not planning any changes for the sake of changes. We (I for one) are seeking your inputs (Sellers Buyers and "voyeurs" alike) to make Approval Books better. That is all. We are pioneers. No one else can show us the way, so your collective experience and remarks are more than welcome. Positive negative or neutral, it does not matter. Just what you think about Approvals and how (if?) to make it better.
I listed 10 points, but I could just as well list 10 more. Think outside the box. It does not mean we will change anything, but it will get us to think.
As in any field, if you stand still, someone will pass you by. So let us use our leadership position and our 2-year accumulated experience to see if we can get it to be better yet!

Keep it coming. I find this exercise very illuminating!
rrr...

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purrfin2
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17 Feb 2016
05:56:25am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I also am finding this to be enlightening. We seem to all have the general same opinions.

One question I do have, and this might be somewhere that I've over read or just didn't pay attention to at the time. Is there a listing somewhere that states we must have X amount of stamps (which I think it does), and X amount of covers, and X amount of larger items in each book?

I, like BF, have covers that I'd like to list, just to see if they are worth the 60 bazillion scans to get up to 100 covers. But I just don't have the time. And what about souvenir sheets or mini sheets or other large items, is there a specified minimum for those?

And, what do you guys consider as "high priced stamps"?

Guess I had more than one question, and maybe I missed some of those answers somewhere and if I did, please direct me as to where I should be looking.

Thanks

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Soundcrest
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17 Feb 2016
06:14:29am

Auctions - Approvals
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I think in the approval book guidelines it states what the book requirements are and to ask the moderator if you have any questions. Judging from my own experience with First Day Cards (and remember the postage rate increase on those large envelopes that hold oversize covers) in a book, I have not rushed to put up a book of covers though I will try one at auction this week just to see if there is an interest. With the page limitation you can get 4 to a page which gives you 96 covers assuming they are a #6 size. I took pictures with a digital camera as otherwise you have to combine scans to get 4 covers for one page. At least that is my way of thinking.

High priced stamps have a different meaning to everyone. On this site at least from my own sales to people who did not join me from Bidstart (those bidders are probably obvious) I would think anything over $5 is a high priced stamp. Only a couple of buyers here spend that much on a stamp or set out of my books. I add them to the end of the book as "why not?". Most of the time they don't sell and when I close the book I move those stamps elsewhere. Even after a year I am still learning how to sell here. Sometimes I think I've put up a great book only to be disappointed, and sometimes I put up a book that sells off like crazy for a country I never expected to see much in sales for. It's a lot of fun though - and that's why I do it!

Greg

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philatelia
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APS 156650 25++ years!
17 Feb 2016
08:49:42am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I think Steveo is right, Michael, no one is doing any blasting. I think we all are just trying to emphasize how strongly we feel on some points. I think it is GREAT that we're bandying ideas around. I hope nothing I said made you feel that I was attacking anything or anyone. Just voicing ideas here, and I think folks are really putting some thought into their posts and there are some good points being voiced.

The approval platform is FANTASTIC and re-reading the messages leaves me feeling that folks here think that it is pretty darn fabulous and they are super happy with the whole sheebang as is. This is all just brainstorming.

Soooooo no complaints against anyone! It's all good! We're happy campers!

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youpiao
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17 Feb 2016
09:11:24am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I think the approval books are peachy keen as is. I can't think of anything new that should be considered, nor find any fault in the current system. It would be nice to have mixed pricing on a page, to allow strict chronological listings, but I understand the software does not allow for that.

I say let things stand as they are.

Tef

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
17 Feb 2016
09:11:59am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I understand. His first paragraph is what I saw, and what I was commenting on. Other than that, the discussion has been good. I apologize if I took it the wrong way.

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ingunam
17 Feb 2016
10:05:10am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I try to do both things here, buying and selling. Because the approvals is the most attractive part of SOR for me, I'd like to join the discussion.

1.-3. People are very different. I'm a patient one and when I joined I looked through all books I was interested in even if they were 1 year old or contained less than 20% of the initial offer. 1 year could be enough if there is a problem with space, but otherwise I do not see a reason to remove them. The same about percent sold. I would ask a seller if he or she hasn't forgot to retire the book when it's sold out up to 80-90% AND there is no activities in a month or two (it could be a generated email). If there is no reaction with a request to prolong the book's life for any reason then the automatic retirement could follow.

4. 100 is good enough.

5. I like to choose between different cancels and also from seller point of view it's much better to be able to include duplicates. I would add the rule that the duplicates have to be next to each other. As a buyer I'm annoyed if I've bought a stamp and in next 2 pages found the same stamp, especially if I like it more.

6.-7. For cheap stamps it's not worth. Maybe it would be reasonable to ask sellers to add catalog info including a price for the most expensive ones (starting from 2-5 $). Every catalog should be allowed then, not just Scott.

8. It's OK.

9. No

10. No. I'm buying not only the cheap ones. I also have duplicates of higher valued stamps and do not want to go to eBay or wherever to sell them. If the seller can sell it here he or she should be allowed to do that. For those who are looking only for cheap ones the search option could be useful ("Price" "not greater than"). It also could encourage sellers make more books with the same price.

Another idea:
Perhaps it would be reasonable to make separate books for items like complete sets, souvenir sheets etc. not including the single stamps in them? For me the books where everything is mixed are not the best solution from both points of view (as for a seller as well as a buyer). People usually buy unwanted duplicates this way, because they buy a stamp they need and after some pages they found a complete set. Sometimes I do not notice that when packing the stamps. Do not think that customers are happy with the result. Of course, this approach does not reduce the number of books.

Inguna

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
17 Feb 2016
07:38:08pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I used the site's official page for two items for my covers. I believe that an 8 1/2" x 11" page should be the guide as to how much to put on a page. Items like souvenir sheets and other larger things, if the size of a cover, should be two to a page. Larger items may even be one to a page. I'd let sellers figure that out.

As far as retirement, I think the one year rule works. The only concern I'd have is that the sellers are current. I wouldn't want to buy items from a seller who hasn't been on the site in a year, who then doesn't respond.

Last thought, IF the software was set to "retire" books after a percentage of sales... whether it be 75% or 90%, would the book suddenly disappear as you're working if you are the person who hits the magic number with a purchase? And you intended to buy more from the book?

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bobstew617
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17 Feb 2016
08:15:30pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Thanks, Ralph, for giving us this forum to give some input on the approvals.
Here are my thoughts:

1) One Year is fine for a maximum.

2) I am thinking 85%, but only after a minimum of 3 months.

3) 3 Months is enough.

4) 100 stamps is not too low, but I like Theresa's ideas here re exceptions.

5) I'm fine with the rule as it is here.

6) I see this is a Catch-22 At Wits Endwhen sellers have to combine several countries together to make a book AND keep the same price on the same page. I personally like the stamps in some sort of order.
(I tend to buy more from sellers who present their stamps in such a way to make it easy for me to determine if I need the stamp for my collection.)

7) No requirement, but it's a good practice.

8) No, as long as total minimum requirement is adhered to.

9) No, especially if the one year/percent depleted rules are enforced.

10) No--let market decide.

Thanks--BOB

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ConnieB
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18 Feb 2016
02:30:50pm
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

1. Agreed, one year is too long. Six months may be more than enough.

2. System retire after at least 90% sold and no activity for 1 month. If possible, allow a user-entered retire % with the default being 90% if blank.

3. Allow at least one month of no activity after reaching the depletion percentage.

4. One hundred minimum is not too low.

5. No. Don't require 100 different. Allow a few duplicates. Allow buyer choices.

6. Allow presentation individuality. Don't hinder what is working. As a buyer I like when this information is provided in many cases..., not all. But, as a seller, if this information were required, it would discourage posting books.

7. Don't require. This is working. Let posting books be available for collectors at different levels, catalog availability, and time constraints. Why impose restrictive standards for a
Veneer of quality improvement?

8. Books with only one or a few items per page priced higher is not a problem. This is a system limitation.

9. Don't cap the number of books a member can post. Why? If other members are not interested in what is available, let them decide.

10. Why impose a cap on item prices? Let the seller cap it and buyers decide. If it is too high I wouldn't expect it to sell.


I think a definition of quality improvement is needed in this discussion. What adds quality for the buyer? For the seller?

If a desire to improve the buyer experience is desired, consider promoting buyer feedback in this system. What about a questionaire online or in an email? Ask questions such as what did you like most about this approval book? What did you like least about this approval book? What improvements would you like ?

Consider adding a "like" feature for books or sellers so buyers can communicate or signal quality or satisfaction.

If a desire to improve the selling experience is desired, Don't change what isn't broken.tz




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lerivage
19 Feb 2016
06:44:50am
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

Hello

For me the Approval books work very fine, as a buyer and as a seller. It is simple, easy to use and user-friendly enough. Don't touch it, unless you have problem hosting all books on the server, in which case you want to reduce the number.

I have much more problems with the auction that is clogged by small values better placed in an approval book

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Soundcrest
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19 Feb 2016
07:05:49am

Auctions - Approvals
re: Steps to improve the quality of Approval Books

I run penny auctions which I suppose would be considered low value auctions. Two reasons for that. First was doing them for over 5 years on another site and people love them. There I was doing it as an incentive to get people into my store. The second reason is that while they may be best suited for an approval book, personally I would have trouble making books up for places like Armenia, Venezuela revenues and other places where there is no way on earth to create a decent book of 100 stamps without duplication. Actually on this site I have begun lower priced auctions than anyplace else (besides running the higher priced ones) because people do like to purchase stamps at 20% CV for less than a dollar. A throwback to receiving approvals in the mail. Books make that impossible due to their structure. You cannot do books by catalog value unless they increase the page size 3 fold. I'd love to see that, but I doubt it will happen. Then the books could have multiple countries separated with an index on the cover. It would be ideal.

Greg

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