Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is ABookCoOp?
A: ABookCoOp is a database cooperative owned by online independent
booksellers. The cooperative was formed in order to develop and
maintain an Internet database for listing and selling used, rare and collectible
books, ephemera and periodicals.
Q: What is TomFolio.com?
A: TomFolio.com is both the name and the Internet address
of the ABookCoOp database. Tom Folio was a character developed by Joseph Addison
in an 18th century British publication, The Tatler. Of Tom Folio, Addison said,
'There is not a Sale of books begins till Tom Folio is seen at the
door' (April 13, 1710, The Tatler).
Q: Why a Cooperative?
A: By pooling financial resources through the sale of member
stock, the cooperative has been able to raise the money to develop a database
that few could afford on their own. In addition, changes in policy or direction
are determined by members who are themselves booksellers, know books,
know book buyers and the world of Internet book sales. Limited by law to one
vote per member, a cooperative also makes it impossible for any one stockholder
to amass shares and thereby control the organization. Owned by its
members, neither ABookCoOp nor TomFolio.com can be sold out without the consent
of 3/4 of those voting (and even then, only if constituting a quorum),
each member having one and only one vote.
By law, database income over expenses in excess of 10% are returned to the
members in the form of patronage refunds. Profits from the sale
of books also go in their entirety to the listing booksellers, with the cooperative
taking no part of these profits for the database. In addition, the
cooperative is governed by a Board of Directors who are required
by law to manage the business of the cooperative, and have fiduciary responsibility
to cooperative members.
Q: Can the general public use TomFolio.com?
A: Yes. Although some cooperatives are closed to all but
their members, TomFolio.com is open to all. Book searches are free.
Q: Does TomFolio.com allow direct one-on-one contact between book buyer
and book seller?
A: Yes. One of the primary concerns of members has been that
they be able to maintain direct contact with buyers. The database environment
not only permits such contact but fosters it through offering a direct order
to the bookseller on the one hand; or where the order may be through TomFolio.com,
by a system of email correspondence.
Q: What credit card features does TomFolio.com provide?
A: TomFolio.com uses a secure shopping cart program designed to provide a
uniform and simple system for customers. Our customers do not need to
determine which booksellers take credit cards and which do not. In order to
accomplish this, TomFolio.com requires all booksellers listing on the
website to either 1) accept credit cards, or 2) to use TomFolio.com's
processing service for credit card orders made on the site. TomFolio.com
currently accepts Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
Q: How does TomFolio.com address the issue of quality service?
A: Members must sign a Code
of Ethics that holds them to the standards of the profession in accurately describing items for sale, and in packaging,
interaction with customers, turnaround time in responding to orders,
maintaining up-to-date listings, and returns policy. In cases of
dispute, an Arbitration Committee hears complaints, recommending actions
to the Board, which include warning, reprimand, suspension or termination.
Q: What does membership require?
A: A member must be an independent book business, not part of a franchise
or syndicate. Nor may a member publicly issue its stock or other
securities. If a member has his/her own database from which purchases are
made, that database may not list multiple book businesses. A member must
also agree to list on TomFolio.com (but is not prevented from listing with
To become a member, a bookseller must purchase one share of member stock.
at $500. Membership is vested in the book business. A book business may
purchase only one share of member stock. Voting rights come only with members stock.
Each book business is allowed one and only one vote.
Membership stock is not in itself an investment opportunity; cooperative
stock rarely pays any dividend, is not marketable, and does not
appreciate in value. The value of the cooperative membership lies in the association
of the members in furtherance of their mutual interests.
Members must also pay their fair share for database hosting and
maintenance. Similar to listing fees, payments are due on a monthly
basis. Because a cooperative operates on a 'least possible cost basis'
rather than profit, these fees may decrease as the number of members increases.
Current fees and dues are as follows.
MONTHLY LISTING FEE SCHEDULE
1 to 4k pay $35.
4001 to 10k pay $40
10001 to 25k pay $45
25001 to 50k pay $60
50001 to 75k pay $75
75001 to 100k pay $90
ea 25k thereafter add $15.
Members sign and adhere a Code of Ethics, a Statement of Non-Disclosure
regarding proprietary trade secrets, and a Statement of Disclosure,
requiring disclosure of a possible conflict of interest in discussions
of, or in voting on, a proposal.
Q: What are some of the 'mutual interests' ABookCoOp will further?
A: Beyond providing a listing service that does not look
to its own profit, but to service. The Purchasing Committee is also looking
at various products and services that the cooperative can purchase
for members; e.g., health and property insurance, bookseller supplies
and equipment, and information databases. Personal support and encouragement
among members is also an important benefit.
Q: Can those who are not members list items for sale on TomFolio.com?
A: Yes, non-shareholding booksellers may list at the same
monthly fees noted above. They are required to adhere to the same Code of Ethics
that the shareholding members have established for themselves. Information
on listing as a subscriber can be found by clicking on
a Member" on the TomFolio.com home page.