The Bookseller's Dilemma: Dealing with the Listing Bottleneck
In the title field we include all the main words of the title. If the book is illustrated and we don't know the name of the illustrator, "illustrated" goes into the illustrator field. In the publisher field we try to keep the names consistent so we don't have a ton of look-ups and similarly with place names.
I have seen some weird stuff in the year field. Sometimes publishers or purveyors of cheap reprints put the first edition year in that field rather than the actual year of publication. I stick to the actual year of publication and do any explaining about the original year of publication in the description/comments field.
The edition field is an interesting one. Although listings are sorted by edition, not all website will write the words "first edition" in the listing unless it appears in the description/comments field. To avoid missing out on anyone seeking a first edition, we put it in both places.
If the book's title does not contain the most important keywords, and to add more visibility to your listing, you are going to want to use the keyword field, even though it is not required. We put keywords in all caps with nothing in between.
The book and jacket condition fields can also be problematic. While "fine", "near fine" and "new" will work on ABE, they will all be changed to "very good" when the same record is uploaded to Amazon. Unless you have some special application that will change your uploaded records, the way to enter new material for sure is to go directly to Amazon and hand-enter it. Amazon will put the condition in the comments field, but will initially list the book under "used very good".
The location of the book (we use boxes for storage) can be put into a number of places: we have experimented hand-creating book SKUs and using the location as part of the SKU; we have also used the location field; and we have also used the comment field. Ultimately the most convenient method for storing and retrieving records is to use a single database, and the location field works just fine because I can also tell what is in a particular box. It just means that when orders are received I have to hand-enter the location on the sheet so that we can pick it. I can't emphasize enough, by the way, the importance of BACKING UP your database, because if the location field is the only place in which you have your listings, you could lose the location of your books.
We list in $US. Remember that some of the websites you may be using may not convert dollars into their local currencies, but instead use the same figure. Also on foreign sites, you may have to adjust for shipping, particularly for heavier items.
We put in enough information in the description/comments field to describe the book: the edition, size, number of pages, collation, condition specifics, and any other information relevant to that particular book. This is no place to wax poetic with irrelevant material, or to copy entire Wikipedia articles. Most websites will truncate this information, in any case. Because it is easy to make typos we sometimes create this information in a word processor, which is also much easier to read, and then we cut and paste it into the database. Please note when cutting and pasting: if you accidentally pick up invisible characters in the buffer it will gum up your database. Double-check to make sure that any field you fill in this way does not have any leading spaces, or other invisible characters. There is no need to create lengthy listings for lower-priced items.