POS Follies Part 5

Just jumping in real quickly to let you know the project proceeds. Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday I spent a total of 33 hours, in those 3 days, walking the store, pulling books off the rack shelf-by-shelf and checking to see if they had records already in MOBY's database. Basically, over those three days, I've touched every single item in the store (except the back issues) at least once.

(I also pulled a lot of stuff OFF the shelves for our sale box -- so, if you're a CE customer and you haven't checked the TP sale box in a while, NOW is the time to do so; there are some tremendous deals in there! [I just made Jeff Lester spend another fifty dollars, I am afraid])

This took a whole lot longer than the inventory will take (estimate: 10x longer) because I had to pull everything off the racks, shelf-by-shelf, carry it over to the counter and the computer, and type in a bit of its title in the cntrl-F Find box, then walk the books back and reshelf them. Whee, and stuff.

The FUN part of it was that MOBY's database uses DIAMOND's database at its core, and Diamond does not... well, how to be kind about it?

It is my understanding (perhaps out of date) that Diamond doesn't have a master file of what it stocks. Instead, the individual brand managers RETYPE THE ENTIRE CATALOG EVERY MONTH. Perhaps more importantly, Diamond doesn't have an exacting standard format that they use to present information, so it is entirely possible that you'll have a series of TPs that look something like this in Diamond's database:


(this is an extreme "example", generally speaking no one series has more than 3 schema -- and even those tend to be multi-year 10+ volume series)

Because of this, if you were to sort your list into alpha-numerical order, it would sort like this:


Which drives me insane when trying to work with the data.

So I was also editing titles as I went along to try and mitigate some of this. For myself, there's only ONE format that is appropriate and that's:

[Series Title] VOL [#] [Subtitle] TP ([optional notes])

I also am a total weirdo in that I like to add a zero to sub-ten-volumes entries (that is, it is VOL 01, 02, and so on to 09) -- that's because, since the volume number is in the title field (though we have a column for "issue #" as well of course) if you don't do that, an alphabetical report sorts like this:

VOL 1 VOL 11 VOL 12....19 VOL 2 VOL 20 VOL 21...29 VOL 3 VOL 30

(and so on)

(and yes, you *can* stretch this out to the 40s. No, not a manga series; Fantagraphics PRINCE VALIANT reprints reached well into the 40s)

With the "extra" leading zeroes, everything sorts the way its supposed to.

Also, this is where I hate the ABC line books -- rather than "VOL [#]" they are listed as "BOOK [number spelled out]" so that "BOOK FIVE" sorts before "VOL 05". Once someone from DC (I don't recall who, nor the context) indicated to me that they were that way because Alan Moore insisted on it, but whoever made the decision to have it that way in DIAMOND'S DATABASE should be taken out back and shot. That's not just from a POS POV -- I'm changing the titles myself, obviously -- but from an invoicing POV. DIAMOND prints their invoices in straight-alpha, which makes checking in fun fun fun.

There's also a lot of mislistings -- things categorized by Diamond as "comics" when they are actually "magazines", that kind of thing -- or bad listings. For instance, basically every book that's listed in the "book" section of PREVIEWS has in the "publisher" field the header of the category that it was listed in PREVIEWS. "How-To", "Art Books", "Fantasy/Sci-Fi" that kind of thing. Which is often annoying, but not something I'm going to fix now, because it doesn't matter *that* much, and I can always edited the important ones later.

Anyway, so that was Thur-Sat, the upshot of which is that I *could* take a hard physical inventory tomorrow if I needed. (that's end of the month though)

Sunday I vegged out.

Monday I hit the database for ~10 hours and found "all" of the things that I "should" be stocking, but didn't have on hand. This includes a lot of out of print stuff, but that will work itself out quickly. I found about 200 items. Approx 60% of them are probably OOP. Of the ones that aren't, about a quarter were on this week's restock arrival already.

I also noticed on Monday that, hm, a lot of items I have on hand don't have a barcode in the database -- this is probably because Starclipper (MOBY's "home" store) never stocked them (Diamond's database doesn't provide barcodes in advance, except for a very small handful of publishers). I hadn't realized that I was going to fill in quite that many holes, so I sorted the list of on-hand by barcode and made a sublist of the ones I'd need to scan in. About 800-ish titles.

Tuesday morning I started in on it, and got about 10% of the list done in an hour (which reminds me, I'm going to need to make another list of things that will need to have barcodes generated FOR them...), but then it was time for the New Books to arrive, so clearing that up will be Thursday and maybe Friday in the store.

Today I am at home and, literally, staring at columns of numbers. MOBY has separate data fields for "MSRP" and "MOBY price" -- that is, what the "price" is, and how much the program will charge you for it. But Starclipper, over the years, has put some number of objects on SALE... so I've got to go through and compare column A to column B.

THAT's why I'm typing this essay, BTW -- comparing two columns of numbers on a computer screen is not easy on the eyes, so every 5 or 6 PageDWNs I flip over here and type a paragraph or so.

The way I am doing this, I *know* I am making mistakes (or, at least, not catching some) -- if there's a $12.95/$12.99 discrepancy I won't be catching it in most cases (though I caught one!), and maybe not a $15.99/$19.99 one either. Thankfully, on the few occasions where it's a Starclipper-putting-it-on-sale situation (as opposed to data-entry mistake) they're generally cutting the price to half, making 5/9.99 easy to spot.

Right, so that's done, thanks for listening while I distracted my eyes. Off now to start messing with reorder points!