Established 2001

Books by Chance started selling in 2001. Consignment services were formally introduced in April 2005. As of October 2013 we have sold over 155,000 items to customers around the world. Fundraising is integral to our effort and we have raised over $97,000 for good causes in the Ann Arbor area.

Photo: John and Stephanie by Sarah Gargaro
Photo by Sarah Gargaro

We are John Weise and Stephanie Bentley, the owners and operators of Books by Chance LLC. Ann Arborites for over 20 years and alums of the University of Michigan, we live with their two kids Sam and Chloe in the Eberwhite neighborhood close to downtown Ann Arbor. We operate from our home, employing several part time staff, including Sam and Chloe who help out with the business regularly.

Books by Chance is a small business, tiny really, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. We have thousands of quality used books, which we sell online. We strictly sell on consignment. We also work hard to provide the best service possible. Check out the feedback from our consignment clients as well as the feedback from our customers!

It all started around the millenium change when Stephanie's sister Amy discovered she had a knack for finding books and reselling them online. She built up her inventory and was successful. Amy decided to go abroad for an extended period of time, and asked us to maintain her business while she was away. John glommed on and grew the inventory significantly. John is a programmer/librarian with experience buiding digital library systems. He created an inventory and order fulfillment system geared for accurate and efficient data entry and order fulfillment. Stephanie manages daily operations by managing our small staff of exceptional part time employees and day-to-day business operations. She is also a very active mom, and teaches yoga as well.

We began to offer consignment selling in early 2005 when we realized we had the capability to closely track the sale of huge quantities of books, including sources, and precisely how long it takes each book to sell. This was not by accident, but evolved from a general interest in understanding our business better in addition to fund-raising work done in collaboration with a local school where source-based tracking of sales was essential.

Nearly every aspect of the business we do ourselves, with the help of our staff, including book buying/consigning, inventory management, customer service, local advertising, and this web site.

We also have a great relationship with Encore Online Resale, another small business in Ann Arbor owned by Carol Kamm. John and Carol were cube neighbors in the mid-90's while working for the University of Michigan. It was quite lucky that we bumped into each other again. The two company's complement each other nicely. Encore is our drop-off location for clients bringing us books to sell, a service we greatly value greatly since we otherwise operate from our home.

John had a Teeter Talk with Homeless Dave in October of 2007. To kick things off, Dave hauled a load of books, plus John, to the post office on his new cargo bike trailer. See the pictures and read the Talk! For four solid years, HD Hauling hauled our shipments to the Post Office by bike daily through sun, rain and snow! Very rarely was a day ever missed!

Read about us [pdf] in the May 2007 issue of Ann Arbor's Old West Side News. Thanks to author/editor Dan Madaj for a great article and permission to post it online.

Huron River Watershed Council Banner Image