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Sales, Swaps, Auction & Approvals/Approvals Disc. : Approval Books...New Year Resolution

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
14 Dec 2017
12:09:44pm
I am gradually retiring all my existing Approval Books (some have not shown sales in a few months, and they just clutter the system. Most of the others are depleted above 50%. As a buyer, I know that the current format is not conducive to more sales.)

I have borrowed ideas from many sellers who have innovated here, and I have used my experience selling and buying to feel I know better what makes an Approval Book more buyer friendly. I will be implementing what I have learned in my new books,

Please comment and make suggestions on my plans. I am trying to come up with a format that will significantly improve the buyers' experience. These are some of my conclusions:

1. All cat numbers or reference years are shown! (I find that this or the next item are key to my buying decision. (I tried an index page...too much work, and redundant if you show the cat numbers)

2. Listing are in chronological order (as best allowed by size and price range)

3. Higher valued stamps are at the end of the book...fully described

4. Pricing range is more generous (use cat value as a vague and general guideline only). Always leave a few "bargains" among the lower valued stamps, for the fun of the buyer's quest.

5. List with no duplicates, unless Mint & used, wmk, perforations or other varieties (and indicate what these are). (I am a bit conflicted, as I like buying from books with duplicates...as I don't miss out if I am late.... but I plan to relist the books more often after reworking them)

6. Retire books early (when over 50% is sold) and rework them as NEW books with new material. Do not add pages or stamps to existing books. No book over 4 months old.

7. Indicate clearly the condition of all stamps with potential defects.

8. Books should be around 12 pages or 300 items maximum (break them in multiple books if needed)

9. Very common stamps don't sell, but list them anyway as buyers may need to fill some gaps. (I am a bit ambiguous about this...to list the common definitives or not?)

10. Relist Higher values in Auctions, if they don't sell in the first go-around, when incorporated in the last pages of Approval Books.

11. Book title should be defined clearly and provide ample information.

12. Announce your book activation schedule in advance, including approximate date and time (if possible) to give all interested buyers an equal shot. (wish I could be as precise as Roy is on his site!), and use the announcement to define precisely the book content.

13.

Please make some additional SUGGESTIONS. I am trying to define the best "buyer friendly" Approval Book format that will enhance the buyer experience, without taking too much extra time to put together.
Having older books (even depleted ones) makes it easier to plan the next book, especially if you have already annotated it..so I will start by re-issuing older books...with added material.

Thanks for your suggestions. Starting after Xmas, As a seller, I will relist a large number of older, retired or expired Approval Books. All will be reworked, and with significant material added.
My current books are priced as low as you can expect. I don't plan to compete in the 1c-5c range of books currently being offered by some.

As a buyer, I also don't plan to buy from books that are thrown together in random fashion, no matter how low the price. I find this experience too frustrating for me.

Happy Holidays to all!

rrr...



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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
14 Dec 2017
12:23:58pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Just so everyone is clear. What Ralph has posted are not Stamporama rules. They are his personal ideas regarding how he intends to create and sell stamps through the approval books.

Personally, I think they are very good ideas, and those who follow what Ralph suggests will probably see good sales.

Michael
Auctioneer

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Soundcrest
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14 Dec 2017
01:23:56pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Good ideas Ralph, very similar to what I do. However for me its smaller books due to the 2 months and you are gone rule. We both know after 2-3 weeks activity is nil. It is a LOT easier to work with a smaller book and restocking it than to do things the way I was doing before. I can now do 4 books a week instead of 3, and in less time. Right now I am taking my canceled books and doing the "blackout technique" until it has been listed 3 times or falls below 100 stamps. I have other sources for relisting my higher values so doing them at auction here to me anyway, would tell a potential buyer "don't bother, the stamp will be half the price at auction". It is for that reason I have never gotten into the markdown mode that some people use.

I have found that the indexing for me works. I have a couple of new buyers who had never purchased from me before and I believe that may be the reason. If does cut down the number of pages by 1 or 2 but again, since I rarely will list a book with over 150 stamps that is no longer an issue.

Greg

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michael78651
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14 Dec 2017
04:25:14pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Quote:

"due to the 2 months and you are gone rule."



You have again misquoted and mis-stated rules and processes.
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Soundcrest
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14 Dec 2017
04:54:26pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Is it not so that if no purchases are made within a 2 month period a book is then moved to "ending soon" status? OK, its 10 weeks and you gone, as we all know that for the most part after the first 2 weeks, the next 8 have little if any sales. At least for me that is the case.

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smaier
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Sally
14 Dec 2017
05:29:42pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Rrraphy,

I like your plans as stated (especially organizing the stamps in approximate catalog order) but would offer the suggestion to include some duplicates for those who aren't first to see the book. You say that you will rework the books frequently but often I weigh the hassle of buying just a couple stamps when the other ones I would purchase to make it worth the shipping have already been taken. Overall though, excellent ideas.

Sally

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Brechinite
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Neddie Seagoon from The Telegoons
14 Dec 2017
07:15:42pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Jings! Crivvens! Help Ma Boab!

Welcome back rrraphy.

Common Sense approach. If it works for you...Great.

Higher priced stamps are better at the start of a book, that's just my own personal foible. Who is to say that I'm right or wrong? Whatever works for the individual that's what I say.







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michael78651
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14 Dec 2017
08:39:33pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

No, Greg, that's not how it works.

Here's a scenario, using dates from approval book posting to approval book closing for this example that will try to describe how the process works. In this scenario, the approval book stays open for almost 9 months. I hope this clarifies the programming that was put in place.

1. New approval book is posted January 1

2. Buyers purchase stamps from the book until May 15

3. No further sales are made from the book

4. July 15 the book is placed on the "Closing Soon" list.

5A. No sales in the next 15 days - the book is closed on July 30; or

5B. Sales are made from the book - the book remains on the list, but is not closed.

6. Last sale from the book is on August 10.

7. The book is closed on August 25.


There are two time frames in place here.

1. The 60 day countdown starts when a new approval book is posted, and restarts after each sale is made from an open approval book.

2. When 60 days elapse without a sale from the approval book, the book status is changed to "Closing Soon".

3. The 15 day countdown starts when an approval book is moved to "Closing Soon" status, and restarts after each sale is made from an approval book in "Closing Soon" status.

4. When 15 days elapse without a sale from the approval book, the book is closed.

An approval book will remain open, regardless of whether it is in open or "Closing Soon" status as long as there are sales from the book within the time frames related to the approval book's status. Eventually all books will "time out" as interest in the book wanes, or the book is sold out.

Michael
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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
14 Dec 2017
08:47:55pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

If my outline above is easier to understand, let me know. I would like to use a simple explanation for people to reference regarding this process.

Michael
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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
15 Dec 2017
12:14:01am
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Quote:

"I like your plans as stated (especially organizing the stamps in approximate catalog order) but would offer the suggestion to include some duplicates for those who aren't first to see the book. You say that you will rework the books frequently but often I weigh the hassle of buying just a couple stamps when the other ones I would purchase to make it worth the shipping have already been taken. Overall though, excellent ideas.

Sally"



Good suggestion Sally

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Soundcrest
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15 Dec 2017
04:57:00am

Auctions - Approvals
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Michael I believe you are making the assumption that there are sales in a book after the second week. Certainly if there was then your scenario is correct. However, I do not believe that that scenario is what is happening and most likely a book that starts on January 1 is on the closing soon list by the end of March,or early April, not mid July. If nothing else, the change made me look at the process I was using - and change it to fit the new structure, which is a good thing! Last night I got sales from a "blacked out" book as I call them to the point where I drop below the 100 stamp limit and can't use that technique again for this book. That book took less than 2 hours to create start to finish. This was a book that had NO interest and got put on the "goodbye" list, yet now 3 different buyers bought from it. Sort of backs up my statement all along - people tend to not purchase from books except in the first two weeks.

Greg


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Brechinite
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Neddie Seagoon from The Telegoons
15 Dec 2017
06:07:23am

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re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

YYYUUUUUPPPPP!!

A little and often!!






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michael78651
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15 Dec 2017
10:44:24am
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

LOL. I like your term, "Goodbye List".

Just as in the auctions, approval books on the "closing soon" list seem to be generating views and sales. Nothing wrong with that!

All approval books have a minimum shelf life of 75 days from the date that they are activated by the seller. How long a book stays open will depend on how attractive the material is, and how fast/slow sales are from it.

Greg, since you tend to monitor your books for sales more closely than most, maybe you can keep track of how well your books on the "Closing Soon" list do, meaning how long do they remain there before the system closes the books, unless you're closing them yourself. I think it may be interesting to see how much added sales there are on the books once placed on the list.

Michael
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cardstamp
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15 Dec 2017
10:53:14am

Approvals
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Many of the items Ralph outlined - I already am doing. I am re-thinking what I am going to do in 2018 and I may incorporate some of the additional ideas into my books. I know for sure I am going to put up smaller books. For example I am working on some new books for January for Austria. Normally I would have included all stamps let's say up to 1970 and have a 24 page book. Now I will break it into at least 2 maybe 3 with year breaks. I did try putting a Scott # for all of my items but that did not seem to make any difference in sales. I started providing Scott #'s on all items over 25 cents but the lower cost items it was just not worth my effort and that seems to have been working nicely for me.

With the new 2 month rule - I am also going to re-think my posting and probably let the books stay up for the 2 months and then orderly take them down together at the end of 2 months and perhaps run a final clearance sale during the 15 day period where some if not all fall into that closing soon list. Then just take them all down at the same time the system closes some. It is the only way I can keep things organized. One thing I know for sure is next year I expect I will have less books each month. What I have left from my father's old collections is getting much smaller and although I do buy collections for my own needs and sell off the duplicates as I get them - that is not going to be as much material for approval books as I have had the past 3 years. I may be getting portions of my uncle's old collection from my cousin - she was going to toss it because she did not know what to do with it. I am trying to work out an arrangement with her. If I get that material - do I need to change my nickname from Father & Son to Uncle & Nephew ??

Steve

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Soundcrest
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15 Dec 2017
11:26:48am

Auctions - Approvals
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

I hope to do better than that. Take screen shots of the list of books that are active on Jan 6th for all books opened Dec 1 and after, and then compare 10-12 weeks later as to how many are still on the list. I bet more than 50% are gone or in goodbye mode. I have had no sales in the closing soon books, which is of course, no surprise.

I have closed some books that either fall below the 100 stamp line and I can't restock or have stamps in them that I knew would not sell here due to price, and only included them to get to the 100 sets and singles rule that I used to follow. Now with smaller books I can restock quite easily rather than a 250 stamp book that sells 30%, gets cancelled and has to be reworked. As I said, the time savings so far is enormous. Past 2 weeks I have had 4 books totally done each week by Wednesday morning. This has never happened. Nothing else in my schedule has changed (I'm exact on what has to be done each day. Less scans, less numbering, less cropping and less time as instead of 24 pages the books for the most part have 15 or less. The old way I could not do 4 books in a week. So for me if a book is cancelled in 10 weeks or less so what. I just might pull them down earlier and restock them. Sooner or later the black out concept will end as the older books drop to under 100 stamps. Putting more books up each week is a plus in my book!

Greg

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michael78651
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15 Dec 2017
11:53:15am
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Thanks for your insight.

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
15 Dec 2017
01:45:27pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

From a seller point of view, posting more books on a regular basis (at minimum once a week, but more is better) is key to selling material from old books. It is when buyers purchase the material from new books that they tend to review the older books, to build up a critical mass to justify the shipping. Having smaller books makes it easier to add books.
When I don't add new books, all sales pretty much stop. I doubt very much that a collector will go looking blindly into an old depleted book, without being encouraged by having made a purchase from a new book and needing a few more cents to make the transaction worthwhile (shipping costs added).
So if you plan to sell Approval Books, consider the necessity of adding books on regular basis...even more so when the shelf life of your books will be reduced by the lack of activity.
rrr...


Greg: having the cat numbers in your books has changed how I can purchase and do purchase items from them..greatly enhancing the experience. Whereas before you looked at the scan picture, than paged down to the list...to find out if the item was or was not still available, now one can just work from the list which shows both availability and cat (or ref year) numbers. Actually, even if it is from a different catalog than Scott, the tool works well to focus one's interest.

This removes the frustration one experiences when the item you wanted has already sold (not shown on the scan) , and allows more efficient purchasing. With more books listing cat numbers, or reference year, or listing stamps in some form or chronological order, there is a disincentive to look at the books that are disorganized and put stamps on pages in a totally disorganized and random way.

(Obviously this does not apply to stamps sold in approval books around 5c or so...hard to imagine all the extra work for these bargain prices...so I assume there will always be a market for the bargain hunter!)

Indicating on the title that cat #s, year, or chron ordering is available will help buyers focus on the sellers who provide these parameters, enhancing the overall buying experience. I don't mind paying more for them...after all we are usually just talking a few pennies per stamp.

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Soundcrest
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15 Dec 2017
02:22:23pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Ralph my "blackout technique" cannot work without indexing. I have in the back of my mind a searchable index and if time allows I may do that on some but not all books. If I see it helps sales it will be used more often. I put catalog numbers on everything. If I had to look up the stamp to find the value, why not write them down?

Greg

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
22 Dec 2017
07:43:21pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

The first of my Revised 2018 format for Approval Books will post tomorrow Saturday 12/23/17 around 8:00 AM (California Time).
It will be BELGIUM-1 Scott 1-300 (1869 to 1937). Mostly lower valued used stamps.

Some of my New Format rules:
It will have duplicates (maximum 2 stamps). It will show all Scott Cat numbers and will reference the Year of issuance. Stamp condition needing notice will be clearly indicated, inc defects, M and MNH.
There will be no future discount on prices. When sales slow down, or depletion makes purchaser's use of the book less than ideal the book will be retired...this will happen much sooner than in the past. The stamps are listed in approximate chronological order, given price brackets and size limitations.
I will give advance notice the day before for the most likely activation time.
I will give 1 week notice prior to retiring the book.

This is my first 2018 Format test book, so even if you do not need to buy Belgium stamps, please take a look and give me feedback...this format will undergo refinements as I get familiar with the process.


Thanks for your suggestions.
rrr...

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d1stamper
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23 Dec 2017
12:45:44pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

I looked at your new book of Belgium. The white pages do show the perforations very clearly. I would use a darker color page.

Do you hinged the stamps to the pages?

Doug

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
23 Dec 2017
03:28:24pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Thanks for the feedback Doug..yeah my experiment in paper color selection went off poorly (it looked so nice but does not scan!Sad ). I had used a bright pink/rose, almost fluorescent paper, which unfortunately does NOT scan for contrast...or even for color, and is degrading the scan image quality, with sharpening.
I will resume using BLUE paper very shortly! I had run out and just ordered some more paper for future books. The last two pages were on the blue paper, and it is definitely the way to go. Just bear with me as I refine my concept, and will use the pages I have already prepared rather than redo them now.

As stated on each page of the Approval Book I temporarily mount the stamps on the SOR approval templates using 3M archival photo safe removable 811 tape (ISO 18916 tested and certified), and I make double sure that the tape is fully removed, and that the stamps are not showing potential residue (an rare but occasional minor side effect of some of the older tape I used) when readying them for shipping.

Thanks for your feedback
rrr...

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michael78651
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23 Dec 2017
03:48:49pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

The flushed out colors is what I noticed most. Your books look fine otherwise.

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
23 Dec 2017
04:18:30pm
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Yeah Michael. A temporary side effect of my continued experimentation. This color just DOES NOT SCAN on my scanner! I will return to BLUE very shortly.

I am going to try to photo enhance the scans that I have made, with this failed Pink/Rose paper, but will return to blue for all future books.
Also trying a Photo/scan App option on my iphone as it shows the colors better on my sample try (but they are still off...must be this pink). Need to see how the resolution holds up, after I degrade the photos to accommodate SOR memory constraints.
My cheap Epson scanner clearly is at fault, and I will return to it only with blue paper.
rrr...

I am gradually replacing the Epson scans with scans using my iphone Google Scan App. This is still an experiment, and I will undoubtedly use a blue color in the future, but I would appreciate your feedback. So far, I have replaced just the first few scans.

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51Studebaker
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24 Dec 2017
05:01:52am
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

rrr,
The software your scanner came with is calibrated for a closed scanner lid (large white background). So if you are scanning a lot of page with a different color background, a recalibration is in order. See this page (about half way down) to see the difference..

http://www.stampsmarter.com/features/Color_Images.ht

Same postal card but note how much the color changes, this is due only to the background color impacting the software algorithm.


Most better scanning applications (i.e. VueScan) support saving various scanner calibrations so you can easily switch back and forth.
Don

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
25 Dec 2017
03:34:53am
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Yes, scanner do seem to have auto correct software that likes white background. Turns out even Cameras and Scanning Apps on smart phones have many limitations! And you can kill a lot of time correcting the results.

I have been experimenting with scanner, camera, and scanner App...and it turns out that some background colors are just NOT conducive to correction (not easily anyway), and a regular scanner is still the best method.
So I will be returning to my trusted blue paper, even when I thought a change of color would help me identify the New format Approval Books, and usher a new year in new bright happy colors.
I have a few more AB almost ready to activate one per day for the next few days, with this unfortunate choice of pink/rose fluorescent paper..and these current books will get the camera or scan App on smart phone treatment, as my desk scanner cannot deal with it.
And then it is back to basics with the tested blue color for background and my trusted (but marginal) Epson scanner, for now!
Could be time to get this new scanner I had promised myself!

rrr...

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michael78651
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25 Dec 2017
10:29:01am
re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

If you're looking for a new color, I found that green worked well when I scanned pages for my approval books.

Quote:

"Could be time to get this new scanner I had promised myself!"



You mean that you didn't ask Santa Claus for one?
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Dakota
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25 Dec 2017
07:44:59pm

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re: Approval Books...New Year Resolution

Maybe Ralph was a "Naughty" boy.Laughing

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