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Devils in the Detail: Meet the devilish minds elevating the book trade

Posted: 22 April 2022

22 04 22 Devil In The Detail 2 Blog

If you are a bookworm at heart, you will understand the struggles with this particular passion. From overflowing bookshelves to the ever-increasing costs of buying new books and then there is the worst pain of all - having to find a new home for the literary treasures you no longer want or have room for. Fortunately, Devils in the Detail are here to help.  

Based in the UK, this privately run business has become a blessing for book collectors interested in selling their books without the hassle of actually having to sell them themselves. During their decade long run, Richard and Michael have gone from strength to strength since starting their business.  

We recently caught up with them at their Storage King unit and got a bit of a biography on their company.  

Tell us a bit about Devils in the Details and your roles 

We are Richard and Michael, and we’re the directors of Devils in the Detail Ltd, and we started our business 10 years ago. We’re both former booksellers of a well-known bookseller in Oxford, and we decided to use our expertise to sell books for others.  

What can you tell us about your business journey? 

Our business started when we were both made redundant 10 years ago. Michael and I were aware that our former employee had lots of books that he had trouble getting rid of. We had an idea to sell the books for them instead of them spending money on disposing the books, and our business took off from there through word of mouth.  

We started in a very small storage unit elsewhere, and like most new businesses, it took us about two or three years to get established. There were some scary times, but gradually we accumulated quite a few clients after starting with two clients for the first few years, and now we’ve got over 90. 

What was the main challenge you had to overcome as a business? 

The main challenge was getting our name out there. The book trade is quite slow to react to any new initiative or business idea. To help get our name out there, we attended the London Book Fair, which happens annually. The good thing is that the book trade is quite a close-knit community, so once your name is out there and you’ve got a few clients on board, everything else tends to follow.  

What makes Devils in the Detail standout? 

We’re aware of others who do something similar, but our business is unique in that we’re not buying up stock over the phone. We’re here to help our clients sell their stock, giving them better value for their money. Our goal is to generate as much money as possible for whatever their stock is. 

How has Storage King helped your business? 

We started with another unit elsewhere, but it wasn’t suitable for our needs. We needed a bigger space, somewhere that could accept deliveries and send things out. We also needed a unit with internet access, and Storage King was very accommodating with our current needs and the need to expand. With Storage King, we had the option to decrease our unit if needed, but the variety of different sized units helped our business grow substantially. Additionally, the staff we’ve worked with over the last eight years have been really great to us.  

How has Covid-19 impacted your business?  

Amazingly, during the first two or three months, we had our best sales ever as people were at home and had more time to do things. Once people realised Covid-19 was going to go on a bit longer than they’d originally thought, our sales dipped for a bit, but then it shot up again. Overall, Covid actually helped us.  

What advice do you have for new businesses in the book market? 

The first is to keep your stock fresh. Try not to hold onto stock if it’s not selling and find other means of disposing of that stock. Secondly is the description. Once again, details are important, and you need to describe what you have in front of you as best as possible. Thirdly, be honest and only sell what you’ve got. That will help with feedback, and customers are often surprised, getting a better item than they were expecting.  

What are the future plans for Devils in the Detail? 

Our main next challenge is to expand our business. We want to build our own website and start selling through our own means rather than using external sites. Other than that, we would like to start building up our client base. Right now, we’re not actively chasing clients, which has been both a good and a bad thing. The good thing is that word of mouth has made our business journey a lot easier than most, so we must be doing something right for people to be passing on our name elsewhere.  

If you are interested in buying or selling your preloved books, check out Devils in the Detail on their Facebook page or their Amazon page. With over a decade of experience in the book trade, you can rest easy knowing that your collection will be in the best hands.  

Do you have a business story that you would like us to hear about? Send us a message on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn to be part of our Local Business Spotlight campaign. You can also email us at [email protected]

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