Later this year, we’ll be celebrating our Twenty Year Anniversary. That’ll be in October, and I plan to write a commemorative post about my origin story as an RPG seller at that time. Today, I gathered 20 years of business cards, looked up their dates, and we’ll see what memories they prompt.
I’ve had several long-time customers show me photos of their cards they’ve accumulated over the years. What’s the oldest WB card you have?
Exactly one week after selling my first book, I designed and ordered business cards. Amazon gave me my start, and represented the majority of my sales in those days. It was Wayne’s World of Books back then. I thought the echo from the famous movie would make it easy to remember.
I had a lot of Spanish language books in my inventory; I’m in Arizona, they’re easy to find here.
The photo is from NASA, the Earth – Moon system.
I was a generalist seller in those days. RPGs were only a small fraction of my overall inventory. I had names for my little departments. Krakow RPGs was for roleplaying games of course.
I had just started my RPG reference site (WaynesBooks.com). The What’s New page has a chronology going back to the very beginning.
All the pictures on the prior card, as much as I loved them, I realized the branding was too fragmented and distracting.
The prior September I’d started my sales site (WaynesBooks.net).
The handwritten note you see on many cards is my SKU (inventory) code. Inspired by Science Fiction writer James White’s Ambulance Ship books, which had letter codes of alien types, I built information into each one. This allows me to find a book in my inventory, and know its attributes, without looking it up in a database.
This one, GFST03lec001, means:
- GF = General Fiction
- ST = set (i.e. more than one item)
- 03 = Good (average) condition
- lec = probably the first 3 letters of the authors name, or the publisher
- 001 = unique string. Usually the last 3 numbers of the ISBN, or publisher’s code number for a game
I’d jettisoned the “Krakow RPGs” moniker back in ’06. You can see on the card, by now RPGs were dominating my inventory. And I was promoting the sales site, as gamers were easily finding the reference site on their own. The D20 era and the OSR movement were a renaissance for the hobby after the collapse in the late 90s.
These years were so great for international sales. Shipping across the oceans was (relatively) cheap then, and the various governments hadn’t crushed the book trade with VAT.
We had just moved, so new cards again. Amazon still was a majority of our sales, though our sales site was catching up.
Also, I noticed online that folks were shortening our name to “Wayne’s Books”, so I decided the customers were right! Still, I was insecure that gamers would realize Wayne’s Books sold games, so it was “Wayne’s Books and Old School Games” for the meantime.
There it is: Just “Wayne’s Books”!
I still love that Earth/Moon pic, but this is the last time we’ll see it.
I couldn’t come up with a logo I liked, so I took a page from realtors, who always have their picture on their card. Facebook shows up for the first time.
This would count as one of my Rares! heh. I tried an olive green background, didn’t like the lack of contrast. It only lasted two months.
Google Plus! What an active gaming community. Where I really started connecting with other gamers, and learning from them. Imagine a social media feed where you saw what your contacts were posting, no more and no less.
Back to high contrast!
Added the “Sell Us Your Stuff” banner.
In 2016, I added Dungeon Geomorph maps from Dyson Logos to the back of all the cards. More about that at the linked page above.
Google Plus had died, meaning it was time to update the cards again. I finally designed a logo for WB using a post-apocalyptic font I’d bought.
This is the current pattern today.