Power Networking Business News: African American Book Ladies tell Story how they launched successful Online Bookstore C & B Books

Sunday, April 17, 2005

African American Book Ladies tell Story how they launched successful Online Bookstore C & B Books

African American Book Ladies tell Story how they launched successful Online Bookstore C & B Books
C&B BOOKS was started in 1995 by Carol Rogers & Brenda Piper. Two years ago we started the C&B Book club. The club has grown immensely. The motivation behind this book business was the lack of affordable books written by African American authors. We decided to become an asset to our Youth and the African American community as a whole. We offer our books for less than the major distributors. We knew this would provide our readers with a wide variety of reading materials. We have titles for all ages and categories, fiction, non-fiction, spiritual and inspirational. In 1995, Caroline Rogers & Brenda Piper became booksellers as a result of selling a few books at the St. Nicholas flea market located in Queens, New York. When Caroline and Brenda first opened for business at the St. Nicholas flea market, it was to sell sensual items, perfumed gift baskets and floral arrangements, which were handmade by Brenda. One Saturday after a little spring cleaning, we decided to bring a few books from our personal collection to the flea market, not realizing that someone would actually buy the books! We didn't believe that we would actually gain a profit or should we say become booksellers as a result of selling our personal book collection. However at the end of the sale day, every book was sold. We actually believed that it was due to our sale prices, which ranged from $1.00 to $5.00, depending on the quality of the book. We soon found out that books were in demand. The children really inspired us; they liked the Dr. Seuss, Lil Elmo, Curious George, Blue Clues, and many other children titles. With this in mind, we decided to specialize in all children books and titles. Caroline was being business smart decided to sell the books at an affordable price, emphasizing children books. Her concept was, if you make a book affordable, you would educate another human being, as well as draw many loyal customers. I agreed, and as a result, C&B Books Distribution was established. In the beginning we never changed our prices. This actually raised our profits. The concept being the less you charge the more the customer can afford to buy. That is how we made our profit from the books. Carol would say, "Greed is not necessary if we get the books at a discount price". "Why not give the customer the same advantage". We became known as the Book ladies. The customers would flock to us, requesting titles and not caring about the book cost because they knew that we would give them the best discount that we could. I suppose you would actually have to sell a book to see the expression of satisfaction on customer's face to realize what we felt; especially the children. I just can't put those feelings into words; it would take too many words. Actually it would take a Book. We sold books at St. Nicholas for the next two years. The last year during the Christmas season, we went to St. Nicholas to sell our books at their Christmas Holiday indoor market. We began to setup the books, when a nice woman approached us and asked us a question; "Do you carry any books written by African American authors?" We being the business smart women that we are (smile) and replied, "Which titles are you interested in? She told us she would return with a list. Carol & I will always be grateful to Ms. Betty Miller Mason; she is the reason that we became African American Booksellers. When we asked Betty if we could mention her name she was elated. Betty we want the world to know that people like you are the reason that we are successful African American Booksellers. Betty Miller Mason from the bottom of our hearts we thank you for your inspiration and our first African American Book Sale. Betty returned with an order for over twenty different authors and titles. We remained poised and assured her that we would fill her order by the following weekend When she left, I turned to Carol and asked her, "Where in the heck are we going to get these books from?" We had absolutely no expertise in that area. She responded and said; "We will find a supplier". "Not to worry". Caroline came through. She was so excited that someone was interested in African American authors. She was impressed with the large order for African American authors, that she was determined not only get these books, but to still offer the books at a discount. The next weekend, the nice woman returned. We gave her all of the books that she'd ordered! She was like a little girl in a candy store! As she went through her box, other customers began to hover over her, trying to buy her books. Now as I mentioned before the smart businesswomen that we are, (smile) we were prepared for a response like that. It was actually our plan of advertising. We knew that once she opened her box of books, it would interest others. We sold out and had also taken over a dozen new orders that day. It took us a week to research and find every popular African American author available. Our customers were all races, ages, and from all walks of life. Some became our friends and others came just to visit or place their order. You may wonder why we attracted so many people. The reason that we attracted so many loyal friends and customers, were due to our concern for their satisfaction and happiness, not just their dollars. Children have always been our specialty, so whether the parent could afford a book or not, we never let a child leave without a book, on us. Our children are the future, and reading is fundamental, we never denied any child a book and we never will. In 1997 after we left the St. Nicholas flea market. Carol and I ventured out and became street vendors. We began setting up in all five boroughs of New York; we worked out a schedule, for each place of business. We set up shop in front of various companies that would allow vendors. People came from everywhere; our nickname, The Book Ladies became very popular. The other street vendors, mostly men respected us. We were their sisters and they were very impressed with two women out there selling books. Everyone spoke of our dedication to the book business and community. We didn't allow anything to get in our way. We beat the odds, bad weather, hot days, long hours, every weekend; nothing stopped us from getting books into the communities. Yes, we wanted to gain profit and we still do. However the real reward is when you can provide books for all the people who want them. Now that we are on the Internet, the sky is the limit to how many people lives C&B will touch with their books and have part in their education or leisure time. In the year 2000, we decided to sell books from home. We set up a mail order service in-house. We really wanted an Internet service but weren't educated in that area. We researched and educated ourselves about the Internet business. It wasn't until February 2002, that our dream became a reality. Mr. Phil Andrews, Public Relations Director, and a member of the 100 Black Men of America contacted us. He encouraged us to build a website and put the books on the Internet. We didn't feel that we were ready to take on a venture that large. Carol was not as unsure about the Internet business as I was. However Carol and Phil won me over. We began to build the site. Phil Andrews joined C&B Books Distribution Center as our Public Relations Director on March 1st, 2002. During her research, Caroline contacted a web-designer and asked her to take a look at out our site. Diane of Difs Web-Design came to us with a site that we couldn't refuse. She is presently, updating our site. C&B Book Distribution center is proud to say we made it this far and there is no stopping us now! We are now a full time African American bookseller on the Internet. Look for us at Cbbooksdistribution.com. To speak with Caroline or Brenda please feel free to contact us via, telephone, 1-718-591-4807, or E-mail us at cbbookdist@aol.com Contact Person: Phil Andrews Public Relations Director


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