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Topic: Selling books--Questions

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Subject: Selling books--Questions
Date Posted: 11/19/2009 9:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 1,950
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Has anyone on here ever sold used books on Amazon? I am considering doing it, but I wanted to hear the pros/cons from others that might have done it in the past. I know Ebay is supposed to be hefty with fees, so I was considering Amazon instead.

I have around 150 Ellora's Caves, most of which I bought or traded like for like, (so don't worry, I am not taking PBS for a ride) but I need some Christmas cash, and I have sort of become bored with erotica lately (I know, right? WTH is wrong with me, lol).

Anyway, I like the idea of Ebay because I can do multiples to a single bidder, and there is a time limit, but Amazon looks good as long as I can come in under others price by a few cents.


Last Edited on: 11/19/09 9:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/19/2009 9:43 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2009
Posts: 1,407
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I've posted and sold exactly one book on Amazon - a used, hard-to-find textbook. The setup and ordering process on Amazon were straightforward and easy.

Two issues I remember: Amazon recommends first class or priority mail with delivery confirmation if you're using USPS, but their standard shipping fee didn't cover the cost of this for me. I think Amazon recommends making your prices high enough to cover any shipping charges over their standard shipping fee. The other issue was that they will only transfer money into a checking account, and it takes several days. I thought I could just spend it on Amazon, but they wouldn't let me do that. :)

Date Posted: 11/19/2009 10:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,697
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I have sold used books on Half.com.  It's owned by Ebay and you use your existing Ebay username and feedback on there.  Very straightforward and they do give a shipping allowance.  It's not enough for Priority but covers Media mail.  Heavier books, you need to figure the shipping allowance isn't going to cover the actual postage.  They offer buyers the opportunity to upgrade to Priority for an extra fee.

I find Half.com much easier to search for used books than Amazon.  I like the look of the listings much better on Half.  I buy all my used books at Half and now I'm reselling some of them there.  Like you, I never sell anything I've garnered thru PBS.

Half does encourage people to buy more from the same seller, they reduce shipping on any additional books purchased for the buyer and the seller gets more of a shipping allowance to cover the extra.  If you've already got an Ebay account, I'd seriously look at Half.com.

Forgot to say that Half.com also does direct deposit into your bank account twice a month.

Last Edited on: 11/19/09 10:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/19/2009 10:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 808
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Hi! Samantha. I sell books on both eBay and A'zon (have been since 2005). Unless you pony up the hefty "pro-merchant" fees for A'zon, they charge an addt'l $0.99 fee for each book. Also, the shipping fees, and the reimbursement to the seller, are fixed. You can't do bundled lots for one low shipping fee. That's good for you in terms of being able to ship multiple titles to a single destination and actually get reimbursed as if you'd shipped them separately, but that also puts off a lot of potential buyers.

If you list on eBay and use the product details (item specifications including ISBN and condition), each listing costs 5 cents for 30 days. They cap shipping fees at $4.00 per listing, but you can specify shipping discounts when mutliple items are purchased. eBay charges a 15% commission on the final value, not including shipping. So you're better off listing the book at a lower price and stating the max allowed for shipping costs.

On A'zon, they charge 15% of the sale price + $1.35 per book + $0.99 "non-pro-merchant" fee. For instance, I recently sold a book for $8.00. The buyer paid $8.00 + 3.99 shipping. Amazon paid me a total of $8.45 on that sale.


Now the rub... A'zon disburses money directly to your checking acct. twice a month, but will disburse on demand at more frequent intervals.

eBay has gone "green" allowing only e-payments (no checks or money orders). That's a good thing/bad thing. It's a good thing because it's a pain to wait 7-10 days to get a money order in the snail mail AND it's a scary thing to give your address to a potential buyer who may or may not be sincere in their intent to buy books from you.

It's a bad thing because although you can set up shop with some 3rd party merchant service, you'll most likely use PayPal. BTW, they're owned by eBay (imagine that!). When you accept payments through PayPal, you are not allowed to restrict the source of funds to e-checks. If you have a personal PayPal acct. and accept e-checks, there are no fees. But the first time you accept a payment funded with a credit card, you are elevated to a Premier Account (congratulations?). Now, PayPal charges 30 cents + 2.9% of the total transaction amount.

On the up side, PayPal will have all the shipping address info and can even print the shipping label/postage for you at no addt'l charge (it even does the delivery confirmation at the electronic postage rate of 19 cents instead of the Post Office counter rate of 45 cents).


Sell a book for $8.00 on A'zon and you'll get $8.45 but have to pay postage of $2.83 out of that (based on 1 lb. media mail + delivery confirmation through post office). NET INCOME: $5.62.

Sell a book for $8.00 + $4.00 shipping on eBay and you'll get $10.10 after subtracting eBay and PayPal fees, from which you'll pay postage of $2.57 (if you print online). NET INCOME: $7.53.

You can further reduce fees by bundling books, but I wouldn't recommend making bundles so large that you lose money on shipping (remember that eBay limits books to $4.00 shipping per listing, not per title).

Remember that the eBay listings max out at 30 days. Relisting costs an additional 5 cents (I think this amt. is returning to 15 cents on January 1). A'zon listings stay listed until cancelled or sold.

Look to see how many copies of the same titles are listed on each site. If there are lots of copies available, you'll have to reduce your prices or bundle popular and less popular titles for quick sales. You can always list on both sites and cancel the other listing when a book sells. When searching eBay, don't forget to look at the Completed Listings (look in the left column of the search results window) to see how many copies have actually sold in the past 30 days and at what price.

Hope this helps!


Last Edited on: 11/19/09 10:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/19/2009 10:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 808
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Adding a note after reading Sarah's comment about half.com. They don't charge anything to list. The listings stay listed until cancelled. I do list on half.com, but the first page for each title only shows the FOUR lowest priced copies in each condition category.

But what really makes me crazy about half.com is their payment policy. I didn't mention them in my OP because I don't think that will meet your needs for Christmas money. Sales which occur on the 1st thru 15th of each month are paid on the 22nd with an electronic deposit to your checking acct. That transfer takes 3-4 days, so you get the money around the 25th. Sales on the 16th thru end of month are paid on the 7th of the following month.

Soooo.... if you sell books between now and the end of November, you'll get the money around December 10. If you sell books Dec. 1-15, you'll get the money on or just after Christmas day. Sales after Dec. 15 won't be paid until Jan. 2010. :-(


Date Posted: 11/19/2009 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 1,950
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Wow, that is truly a wealth of help Colleen. I really appreciate it. It sounds like, although I am leary of PayPal, that ebay might just be my best bet.

I have some thinking to do, for sure. Thank you SO much!

Date Posted: 11/19/2009 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 808
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You're very welcome, Samantha. Please forgive my stream-of-consciousness writing. Providing my thought processes is like word problems... always TMI.

All you really need to know is that you'll make more money selling on eBay. Additionally, there will probably be fewer of any particular title listed. I do recommend adding the synopsis from the back of the book to your listing and stating that you'll gladly ship to APO addresses (military overseas - it doesn't cost any more but you do have to add a little green customs tag).

BTW, getting your money out of your PayPal account... you can transfer it to your checking account. It takes 3-5 days for the transfer to be processed. Alternatively, you can request a PayPal debit card (especially if you decide to sell books on an ongoing basis). I have one with a link to my checking acct for backup funding (for when a charge exceed my PayPal balance). I don't have to wait for my money and it spends just like the real thing.


Last Edited on: 11/19/09 11:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/20/2009 1:31 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I've done the ebay & half.com thing myself.  Prefer it to Amazon myself.  I only accept PayPal payments on ebay, but half.com takes any kind of e-payment, which they deposit to your bank account every two weeks - along with your shipping allowance, which means, yes, you pay out of pocket for shipping costs & get reimbursed sometimes 2 weeks later.  Personally, I prefer auctioning my books on ebay.  I sold off several of my musty collectibles this past summer and pocketed a few hundred bucks, so as long as you know what you're doing, you can get some of that money back that you spent on your books.  I always sell in lots of at least 6 or more, and try to sell things that go well together.  A collection of out of print titles by a familiar author - if you have any of those - for instance.  Pick a starting price you can live with on your collections, and start the meat & potatoes stuff off at 99 cents.  Make the auctions 7 day durations and start them in prime time, so that will be when they end.  For ebay, that's Sunday nights at about 9pm ET.  That's when they have the most browsers online across the country & in all US time zones.  ebay also will try to cheap you down on shipping costs when you're posting books, and if you aren't careful, you'll end up in the hole on your shipping charges.  The way around that is to look up any book auctions similar to the one you want to post, and then click on the "sell a similar item" (or whatever it is) tab.  When you do this, you automatically get the shipping calculator, and can enter the package weight, vs. just starting from the "sell your item" tab, which has a $4 preset for the shipping charges on books.  Never ship anything you sell on ebay until you get a payment notification from PayPal.  Even when they use e-check, you can wait until it's cleared through PayPal to ship.  I love PayPal myself, & wouldn't use anything else.  Yes there are charges associated with it, and I do have a premier account so that I can accept as many instant transfers as I want, but the difference is some chump change off the top of each transaction that I barely notice.

Last Edited on: 11/20/09 1:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/20/2009 5:24 AM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2006
Posts: 8,426
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Last Edited on: 12/27/09 4:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/20/2009 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2009
Posts: 296
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I'm sold a ton of stuff on Ebay for years and that is still where I prefer to sell things.  I think it gives you the most exposure and the auction style format usually drives up the prices.  I sold my huge vintage Gothic collection recently (1000 books) and made $400 bucks on it.  So I think that isn't too bad.  And since they are harder to find books you have (erotic Ellora's Cave) I'm pretty sure you would have your bidder base.

ebay started losing customers due to their raised costs so they have deals going now - I think every month you can list five items for free.  So if you split your books into five lots you can list for free.  But you will have to get a paypal account since it is all electronic payment now.  Ebay will take a cut and so will Paypal but you will still make out - just make sure your shipping and handling costs are all correct and you don't lose money there. 

With Ebay you can sell everything in five days, get paid and transfer the money to your bank account in three days - so best case eight days to have money in hand.  With amazon or half.com your books might sit out there for awhile and you might not get your cash by X-mas time.

Date Posted: 11/20/2009 9:14 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I tried selling books on a site called Bonanzle.com.  The fees are much less but you have to market yourself.  The listings don't expire and are free. But like I said you have to market yourself a lot.  On Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, to other Bonanzlers, etc..,  I don't really do any of that stuff.  I just want to list books and sell them. I don't want to have to put in lot of time to make a couple of dollars off a book.  You have to constantly change up your listings so they show up in the search engines.  I finally gave up.  I heard a lot of complaints about Ebay but after reading this thread I think I might try it as well.  I also have a lot of erotica here that I bought for myself-some that I got from here but I sent out a book to earn the credit-I don't buy credits.  I was thinking of selling some since I never have a shortage of credits and I just have so many books in my TBR.   I figured I'd sell the ones I bought myself and then post the PBS ones when I need credits. I also have a lot of heavily posted books that I thought I could sell in cheap bundles on Ebay-if I ever get around to reading them that is :-)) I also have several series sets thatI think would make good bundles and are damaged just enough to be unpostable here-but in good reading conditon where I could just note the damage in the listing.

So I'm glad I clicked on this thread because it was very informative. 

Date Posted: 11/20/2009 3:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I found ebay to be too much hassle. I usually sell at half.com now. May make less money, but stress reduction is a major goal in my life.  For your situation, ebay is probably the best way to go.

Date Posted: 11/20/2009 6:19 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2005
Posts: 5,238
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Wow ladies.   Thanks so much for this information!   Ever since last year - when I found out that one of the books I picked up at the FOTL sale "because it looked pretty" was selling for $50 used on Amazon - I've been thinking about selling off some of my enormous TBR.  Now I'm one of the lucky 10% of America that is unemployed, and this is looking more and more tempting.

I've got a few other questions for you very knowledeable women:  

  • Do the selling sites (Amazon, EBay, Half.com) issue some kind of a year-end income statement for income tax purposes?   How do you, as sellers, figure out how much you have to claim for income?
  • The only site that I've ever sold anything on is EBay, and that was only a few items about seven years ago.  That means that I wouldn't have much of a seller's rating.   How much does that matter?
Date Posted: 11/20/2009 7:42 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 808
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Lynne - Welcome to the club! I haven't received a regular paycheck since 2005 (long, boring story). My first serious eBay sales were my fabrics. My daughter had outgrown the Daisy Kingdom pinafore dresses I had planned to make, so I sold off a huge collection of Daisy Kingdom fabrics. Broke my heart.

Now, I mostly sell Christian books (fiction and non-fiction) and bundled lots of fiction (BTW, Mary L. - series do sell very well and very quickly on eBay). eBay does not track income or issue income statements, though you can download your eBay invoices each month to track your sales and how much you pay them. Likewise with PayPal.

As a serious seller, I subscribe to the Blackthorne software available through eBay to manage listings and sales. It generates all kinds of reports. But it costs $25/mo. :-(  Unless you are going to sell a LOT of books, you can probably track it in an Excel spreadsheet or a money manager program like Quicken.

As for seller ratings... I tell buyers to look for sellers who have some track record, but not too much. The mega-sellers (those with feedback scores in the thousands) tend to be less conscientious about customer service. I've never hesitated to buy from someone with too few feedback comments, though I have passed up sellers with negative feedback.

More important than feedback (other than negative comments) is the description...

  • Include a synopsis of the book (backcover or dust jacket description).
  • Be specific about the condition. Elaborate on the item specifics designation of Brand New, Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable. Tell the buyer what is wrong with the book, but don't talk them out of buying your book. i.e., Condition: Very Good. Single spine crease, otherwise LIKE NEW. Be objective about your book's condition. If you'd put it back down and pick up a cleaner copy at the bookstore, it's not BRAND NEW.
  • DO NOT use the word NEW in your listing title unless your book is BRAND NEW. eBay considers this a keyword and will cancel your listing if another seller reports the listing for keyword violations. Believe me. There are lots of sellers who spend lots of time looking at other sellers' listings and reporting anything they can find (nasty people).
  • NO RETURNS. eBay now requires that sellers specify their return/refund policy. Explain in your listings that because of the nature of the item (duh) you regretfully cannot accept returns and issue refunds.
  • Tell shoppers you have lots of similar books listed in a big, eye-catching blurb and encourage them to look at your other items. (there will be a link below your name at the top of the listing - no effort required).

If you use the item specifics (ISBN, condition, publication date, etc.), you will get a stock photo for most books. If there is no photo, grab your digital camera or cell phone and make one. Upload it along with the listing. BTW, gallery images and one photo per listing are FREE! Another bonus is that now through Dec 31, listings that use item specifics cost only a nickel to list! Coo-wul!

Hope this helps!