Messenger photo by John Matuszak
Eastmoor resident Herb Talabere looks over some of his inventory of 1,400 books that he collects and sells via Amazon.com, a business he launched after retiring. He averages around 90 sales a month. He is also the new president of the Eastmoor Civic Association.
When most people retire, they are ready to start a new chapter in their lives.
Eastmoor resident Herb Talabere decided to go for the whole book – sales, that is.
That’s why he launched Books & More almost three years ago.
The genesis of the idea came a few years ago when the husband of one of his wife’s colleagues, a retiring Ohio State University professor, mentioned that he was selling many of the books he had accumulated on Amazon.com.
"I stashed that away in my head," Talabere recalled.
When he retired from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and moved from Bexley, the opportunity to enter the book sales market re-emerged.
He had previous sales experience, having marketed wholesale gift items and recordings.
With a lifelong love of reading, he decided he would have more fun buying and selling books online, along with his remaining inventory of musical and spoken-word recordings.
He now peruses garage sales, auctions, and library sales to keep up his stock, which stands at about 1,400 books.
He then views other listings on the
Amazon.com site and determines the value of his offerings and what is selling.
Non-fiction and academic books are big sellers, he has found. Novels and other best-sellers, because they are printed in such large volume, don’t have much value on the Internet market.
Cookbooks sell like hotcakes. And some editions can fetch relatively high prices. One book he found sold for $185 within a couple of weeks of being posted.
Most books don’t bring in that high a price, and can go for $8 to $10, Talabere said. The key is to buy low.
At one auction, he snatched up a lot of about 200 books, passed on by the other bidders, for $1.
After discarding those he decided had little value, the rest brought in about $300.
Talabere isn’t really much of a book collector, and is not necessarily looking for rare volumes. But he keeps his eyes open, and once in a while a historical tome comes his way.
He recently picked up an 1885 edition of U.S. Grant’s memoirs. Unfortunately, it was part of a two-volume set and he only found the first volume, making it less valuable.
"It’s the thrill of the hunt" that he enjoys, Talabere offered.
He also enjoys having contact with people from all over the globe through "the great world-wide marketplace" on the Internet.
Talabere has sold books to people in China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and South America.
He had made 85 transactions for the month of October, and he expected the sales to pick up as the holidays approach.
Talabere opted for online sales, rather than opening his own shop, because the book market is dominated by the big chain stores.
"An independent book shop has almost no chance," unless it caters to a niche market or is in an area with no other competition, Talabere explained.
Since his retirement, Talabere has been involved in other activities to bolster area businesses and to enhance his neighborhood.
He is the new president of the Eastmoor Civic Association, an organization he joined about three years ago.
He had previously served on the association’s code enforcement committee, sending letters urging homeowners to maintain their properties, and negotiating group rates for driveway apron replacement and sealing, to make the repairs more affordable.
Earlier this year the association received approval from Columbus City Council for a blueprint for landscaping and other improvements along Main and Broad streets, and a business block watch has been launched to complement the residential block watch.
A wine tasting party, a house and garden tour and a community-wide garage sale are being planned.
Talabere wants to get more residents involved, and to catch the attention of the powers that be.
"We want the city to know we’re here," he said of the area bounded by Gould and James roads to the west and east, and Broad and Main to the north and south.
The neighborhood is a "cash cow" for Columbus and its school district, Talabere believes, since many homeowners contribute their tax dollars but send their children to private and parochial, rather than public, schools.
Many other residents are empty-nesters like Talabere and his wife, Laurel, who has taught at Capital University’s School of Nursing for 26 years.
Talabere is also involved with the non-profit 40Plus of Central Ohio, which provides job search training and support for older members of the work force.
Symposiums are held Mondays at 9 a.m. with a guest speaker at the office at 1100 King Ave.
Information on the organization is available at www.fortyplus.org, or at 297-0040.