Better World Books: What other dealers can learn from the new model
What They Know
This company is definitely in the book business, but their grasp of technology not withstanding, so far they only really comprehend the part of the business that relates to "reading" as a popular pastime. They also understand entertainment offshoots like CDs, DVDs and other digital media. Their book world has a universe of about 6 to 8 million titles and at any given time about 1.6 million of these books are physically on hand in the warehouse. Most of these books have Amazon rankings. The Amazon rankings refer to velocity of sale, which means how fast the book will sell. These rankings also help the company estimate how many copies of any given post-ISBN title they may be able to sell in a year and from there to estimate how much back stock of popular titles to keep on hand.
What They Don't Know Yet
They haven't yet mastered the art of processing non-ISBN titles, and they don't yet really understand the other reasons for having and keeping books, particularly older books.
They do know a bit about some of the higher end or more specialized parts of the book trade. This is knowledge gained from sending ARC staffers to the Colorado Book Seminar and the annual Virginia Rare Books School short courses. The ARC staff combines this knowledge with daily hands-on contact with huge numbers of books.
However most of the know-how and detail that was once passed down through the generations inside the book trade is still outside their orbit - at least for the time being. Though they are readers, friends of literacy, book lovers all, they still have a distinctly limited knowledge of books and the book trade, at least as it is traditionally defined.