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Selling A Book and Taking On Amazon

Posted on February 28th, 2012

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Jim DuFresne

Jim DuFresne

It was a Sunday when the new MichiganTrailMaps.com e-shop was launched and then those of us who had worked tirelessly for three months to build it … waited. Patiently.

What else could we do? The first order is always the hardest and as Sunday rolled into Monday and Monday rolled into Tuesday there were moments when I wondered if it would ever come.

I’ve waited painfully for other things of my life; for the birth of my first child (we named her Jessica), for an answer from the stunned girl I had just asked to Homecoming in 11th grade (she said no), for the results of an exam in college I was pretty sure I bombed (I did).

But this time it was almost maddening. I’d be online, checking email every few minutes, looking for that Pay Pal notification. Any sign that the shop, with all its coding and links, was out there working.

As it turns out it was. On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the 15th time I was checking the account that day, there it was, in the subject line: Notification of Payment Received.

Our first sale!

It was from woman named Lois and she ordered two books, requesting that the author (me) autograph them. On that particular day I was also the warehouse and shipping department so I packaged the books and then hand wrote her address on it because our tech person forgot to inform me I could print out the mailing label through Pay Pal.

Then I stepped outside to head to the post office. In all the excitement I didn’t realize that the clouds had cleared, the sun was out and in the middle of February it was in upper 40s. It’s been that kind of winter. I’ve yet to ski close to home but I’ve been cycling continuously since November.

MichiganTrailMaps.comThe cycling has been amazing. A near snowless winter means the shoulders of roads, bike paths and sidewalks are clear. The temperatures have been ideal. I wear a light pair of wool gloves and a thin wool cap under my helmet and once I’m on my bike I never get cold or overheat.

Perfect equilibrium on two wheels.

I tucked Lois’ package in my bike bag and headed out on the seven-mile ride to downtown Clarkston. From my home I followed the bike path through Independence Oaks County Park, pedaling pass four lakes. When I entered Clarkston I passed four more lakes; Park Lake, Upper Mill Pond, Mill Pond and Deer Lake, and then crossed the Clinton River.

Pulling up to the post office I realized I may have just stumbled on a new slogan for the company, one with an eco-friendly theme:

MichiganTrailMaps.com: We Don’t Burn Fossil Fuels Delivering Your Book To the Post Office!

Match that Amazon!

When I returned home I did something else I doubt Jeff Bezos, founder of the giant online bookseller, had ever done; I wrote a personal email to Lois. I told her the books were on the way and thank her for the order. I even mentioned how agonizing it was waiting for that first one and thanks to her the wait was over.

The next day she wrote back to me:

I always looked forward to reading your Saturday article in the Ann Arbor News.  My kids were young then, and we followed many of your family trip plans.  All four kids are grown now but still enjoy outdoor adventures.  You have touched many lives.

Sometimes being small is better.

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