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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
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    Feb 2011

    Default Selling Books on Amazon: Nimble or Nightmare?

    I've been looking into selling off some used books on Amazon, both my uncle's collection of woodworking titles and a few copies of my own.

    I've never sold anything online, and I don't have much sense of life as a third-party seller. There are plenty of horror stories to be read online, but people are far more likely to post those than the reverse.

    For the average person selling a book at a time for very modest prices, is it more hassle and risk than reward? I'd be interested in hearing from anyone with experience at this, positive or otherwise.

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    ChristianSt's Avatar

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    Default Re: Selling Books on Amazon: Nimble or Nightmare?

    I would say that is not an easy question to answer. I can't comment on Amazon (I haven't sold anything there and bought only a relatively small amount of items used - though those transaction normally worked quite well), but probably first you need to ask yourself "can I get enough money to make this thing worthwhile for me". This largely depends on what items you have to sell. If you have out of print (or generally expensive) books then the answer is more likely yes. If those books can be acquired for a few bucks new, then maybe it is not worth your time (unless you want to get rid of them in a way that is still somewhat useful), since you need to invest some time to sell them (posting information about the items you have to sale and physically shipping them).

    The advice I would give you would be to be as honest as possible with any evaluation/grading of your books. Especially if you want to sell more stuff it makes it much harder for you if you have a negative reputation. Also starting without any reputation it might be that you are forced to lower your prices at the beginning, because people might not trust you.


    A better question would be imo be where/how to try to sell your stuff. Maybe you're better off selling them on eBay or even some specialist site (if there exists one). Depending on how the platform operates/what you want it might alter what you offer. If you want to get money faster you probably want to make your things cheaper. If you are in no rush and the service doesn't add more fees for keeping items listed longer, it might be worth to go with a higher price and wait longer.

    If you want to make it especially easy for you, there might be also some online services available to you that will buy your used books (at least there are in Germany). They had an app where you just provided (or scanned) the ISBN number of your books and they would say how much they will pay for it. After adding enough books then you can just put them all in one parcel and are basically finished.

    Overall I think selling online can be done in a way it is worthwhile (demonstrated by the fact that enough people do it), it can be helpful for you. Not sure if you have that option (or already tried it), but you could also try some second hand bookshop near you and sell them offline - that way it should be much harder to be involved in a "horror story"

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  3. - Top - End - #3
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Selling Books on Amazon: Nimble or Nightmare?

    As someone who's sold a few things online, trust me when I say Be Specific about condition and include pictures. Also please don't call anything near mint unless you're Certain a professional appraisal would call it such, just to save yourself grief. In fact you're probably better off going one lower on the "mint condition-garbage" scale, because I've NEVER had anyone complain that the items they got were better than advertised.

    Personally I ignore people who ask inane questions about the stuff I had up when there were both explicit photos AND written details of the issue. Inane meaning mostly things like asking "is this new?" When the title and description both clearly state USED in all caps. That's not even the dumbest question, it's relatively common. Okay maybe the question isn't dumb, but experience has borne out that the people who ask those questions aren't worth catering to because I'm not making enough money to put up with trolling or high maintenance entitled people.

    But really I find that most people are reasonable as long as your target demographic isn't rife with a-holes. You'll just rarely remember the good ones. Repeat good customers are worth taking a little time to cater to a bit. To a point. Selling online is way more art than science if you're just doing it casually. I got tired of the bad apples, but then again it was just a little extra money for stuff I didn't want but wasn't trash.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Selling Books on Amazon: Nimble or Nightmare?

    Unless you can find a local seller to sell it for you, I think you'd probably be better off donating them. Generally, I, as a buyer, will pass over someone with few or no ratings. But maybe I'm just super picky.

    Also, you'll need to look up each title individually, for supply and demand comes into effect. On Amazon, the minimum price is $0.01 (plus a minimum of $3.99 for shipping costs), and it's kind of hard to tell what any given book will go for. What's more they tend to fall in and out of popularity over time. On that note, I've noticed that there's sort of a ceiling on some items, and typically there's a lot of people that will stay above that ceiling and almost never sell. Picking a good price can involve tracking that item for awhile to get a feel for its market.

    Also, Amazon is rather disadvantageous for sellers, since it seems that Amazon nearly always sides with the buyer in disputes. For example, someone could purchase a book from you and, after receiving it, then disingenuously file a complaint saying they never received it. Unless you can provide proof that they did receive it (such as a tracking thingie they offer at the post office, for extra money), Amazon will typically side with the customer, award them a refund, and give you a demerit.

    If you're determined to sell yourself, you might want to look into buy a pack of shippers, rather than buying them individually at the post office. If you don't include a tracking thingie, I don't think you actually need the whole $3.99 Amazon allots for shipping, which widens your profit margin a bit more.

    (I don't actually have any experience selling. I just spend more time studying prices on Amazon than is strictly necessary for what I buy there. I've also had to return a few items.)

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    Bulldog Psion's Avatar

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    Default Re: Selling Books on Amazon: Nimble or Nightmare?

    I've sold a few books on Amazon. I didn't make a ton of money off them, but there was no problem with the transactions.

    As long as you're honest about the condition and ship the thing fast once it sells (a critical component), in my experience, most people are quite happy with the results.
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    danzibr's Avatar

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    Default Re: Selling Books on Amazon: Nimble or Nightmare?

    Back in my college days I sold a lot of books on Amazon. In particular, college books (take a class, sell the book). It went really well. Amazon took a hefty chunk, but hey.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Selling Books on Amazon: Nimble or Nightmare?

    Amazon makes things easy BUT the tradeoff is they take a good chunk which they deserve though. All that infrastructure and systems and IT. Costs money.

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