990 N. SR 434 #1140
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
phone (407) 551-0772

Abracadabra Data Systems

At Abracadabra Data Systems, we develop custom database and point-of-sale solutions. The UBIC System is our hallmark program which we developed and market ourselves to independent book stores selling used, new, and remainder books.

Now in our 20th year, UBIC has been helping independent book stores grow by providing, inventory control, point-of-sale, built-in database, customer credit/reading history/address & e-mail information, and online solutions for stores selling used/new/remainder books. Our experience comes not only from working with customers on an individual basis, but also from the 22-year success of our own book store.

Let us show you how UBIC simplifies all aspects of running your store. Whether you are opening a book store or already operate a book store, the UBIC System can put you in control of inventory, sales, customer information, and web export.

Understanding the Used Book Business

When the paperback exchange initially began, it was mainly a hobby for people who loved reading books. Books retailed for about the same price and it was a 2 for 1 setup where the customer brought in 2 books in order to take out 1. Customers would usually take out about the same number of books they traded in, paying the difference in cash for the books they took out. This resulted in a very successful arrangement for the book seller as there was no cash involved in acquiring inventory, and the customer would spend half his purchase in cash.

In the late 80's the retail price on paperback books increased about 35%. The customer trading in newer books all of a sudden had credit to spare when using it on older books. This set a precedence in their minds that they could trade in enough books to basically read for free. They became very creative in accumulating books to trade and the book sellers found themselves in a lose-lose situation. They had too many of the same books, and the customers were not spending as much cash.

Solutions such as refusing books under a certain price point, or prior to a certain date; physically checking the shelves; lists of books they would not take, etc., resulted in frustrating and time- consuming situations which did not overcome the two main problems - too many books and not enough cash flow.

Development of the UBIC System

Our book store was in a similar situation, even though we were manually keeping card files on the books traded in. It was still time-consuming, did not remove books taken out, and required physical review of overstock to see what needed to be replaced on the shelf.

Computers were just making their way into the new book business, and we felt there had to be a software program for used book stores. There was nothing. The only solution was to develop a program ourselves that would work for other used book stores as well as ours. This was no small undertaking. At that time computer prices were rather high (compared to today), hard drive size and memory were minimal, databases of author/title information did not exist (they were available in hard bound books call Books-In-Print or on microfiche), and worst of all, most used book sellers did not grasp the vision of computerized inventory control. They were used to running their business one way and even though the parameters had changed, they weren’t willing to make changes to meet them.

Nevertheless, we put our talent, one a computer programmer, the other a book store owner and former secretary, together to develop the software and a database of paperback titles. After a year of dedication, trial and error, and beta testing in our store, we introduced the UBIC System (Used Book Inventory Control) in 1989 at the Romantic Times convention.

Our initial reception was tepid at best, but one gallant husband bought the program for his wife’s book store. He saw the potential of inventory control; and although she knew nothing about computers and was, in fact, terrified of the idea, he pursed in putting their inventory into UBIC. It took him awhile because back then we didn’t even have barcode readers (everything was keyed in by hand). Our reward came when some six months later his wife called frantic because her computer was not working and "she could not run her business without UBIC." While it was not UBIC which caused her computer not to work, we were able to resolve her problem so she could continue to run her store with UBIC.

We mention this because even in its rudimentary form, the UBIC System lived up to its potential and value. Since then, we have been able to take advantage of not only better technology, but the input from our customers who continually make suggestions to further develop and expand the capabilities of the UBIC System.

In 1999, we were contacted by an unknown entity at the time called half.com. In case you’ve never heard of them, they were putting together a program to sell used books online. What they needed was an initial source of sellers to connect to their buyers. They came to us and asked if we would work with them to develop the UBIC System to export to their web site. Again, this was all new territory for the used book business; but once more, we led the way in web export for UBIC customers to sell books online. This was highly successful for everyone.

Opening a Used/New Book Store

Today, independent book sellers are considering other options to a traditional book store. One of those is a store which sells new and used books. The used book option is very appealing to both the book seller and the customer. Mainly, the books are cheaper for both the seller and the customer. It also has the appeal to both regarding trade. The seller "buys" the books from the customer in the form of credit. This increases inventory without cash outlay. The customer receives value for a book which would otherwise be given or thrown away. The additional bonus is the frequency with which the customer returns to the store. They come in to buy and they come in to trade back. In business, reselling to the same customers is important to its success.

The attraction of used books also opens the door of opportunity to sell new books. Once the customer is in the store, they are more likely to purchase new books rather than go somewhere else, especially if they can trade them back in. Promoting new books coming out, ordering in advance to guarantee receiving them when they first come out, and contacting the customers as soon as they come in goes a long way towards developing customer loyalty.

Often times, people go into the book business because they love a certain aspect of it. Creating a niche market, such as local writers, mystery book store, children’s books, etc., can be tested before jumping into it with small introductions which can be developed as the demand increases. In the mean time, the used books continue to pay the bills while a new market is developed.

Of course, providing your business with the most effective and reliable tools is essential to its success. The combination of the UBIC System and the database, often meets those needs without the necessity of additional sources of data information. If the contents of our database do not meet your criteria, we can work with you on alternate ideas.

Most important is knowing exactly what you want your business to look like and how to effectively meet that end. The versatility of the UBIC System can do that for you.