Beyond the Zero Sum Game: <br>An Approach to Creating Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationships

- by Renee Roberts


The first time I went to the 42nd Street Library reading room I felt like a pilgrim who had just walked into the Holy of Holies.

This arrangement can be expanded in many ways: for example, if a library patron wishes to donate valuable books to the library, we appraise them and sell them on their behalf. In this way we can take advantage of purposeful acquisitions, and not just random donations. During the holiday season, or at any time of year, library patrons purchasing through our direct site can direct a percentage of their sale to the benefit of the library.

The advantage of this partnership to everyone is clear: the institution benefits by maximizing the value of their overstock, and we benefit by having access to a steady stream of very good, and sometimes exceptional, material. This works, by the way, with any charity. Oftentimes individuals may be rich in books, but poor in cash. This arrangement allows them to donate to the charity of their choice and take a tax deduction on the market value of their donation, while the charity receives the continuing income from the book sales.

Doing the right thing clearly benefits our business. By operating transparently, we develop a special relationship with the institution. We don’t have to lay out hard cash for inventory, conserving our resources for special opportunities, like auctions. When we speak with our supplier/clients, we can discuss the value of the book and its prospects in the marketplace openly. And we save wear and tear on our conscience, because we don’t have to pretend that books have little or no value, when we know very well that they do. Unlike the mob at the library sale door trying to make a “find," when these transactions are completed, everyone feels good afterwards.

Renée Magriel Roberts can be reached at