Selling Books

by john on October 26, 2004

I’m a bookaholic. And I have to buy them, I just can’t get myself to go to the library. I hate the idea of having to return a book. I don’t even like to loan them out. I’d rather just buy another copy for someone. But having moved a few times with hundreds if not thousands of pounds of books I have gotten a little better with letting go. In fact in the last year I have actually sold some books both on E*Bay and in a garage sale. I have also discovered that you can rent books online, which is generally much cheaper than buying.

This summer I actually took two bins of books to a local used books store to see what I could get for them. Almost everything was non-fiction, mostly business books. After lugging them into the store only to have the shopkeeper tell me he was only interested in one book and that he would give me a dollar for it I decided that perhaps selling used books (even ones in perfect shape) was a bit too much work for little reward.

Then a couple of weeks ago Joe wrote about how he always buys books through third-parties on Amazon. That got me to take a look at Amazon to see how easy it was to start selling books on Amazon. Turns out it is a piece of cake – far, far easier (and better) than E*Bay. I don’t know why I never thought about this before. I mean, Amazon and book selling, who woulda thunk it?

The best thing about selling books on Amazon is you don’t pay an insertion fee and you don’t have to worry about timing anything. You throw your book out there and whenever it sells you get notified. It’s not an auction. It’s the anti-E*Bay. The only caveat is you need to ship the book within 2 days of the sale. What that means is you need to be careful with books you’ve put up for sale and forgotten about. You don’t want to get blacklisted because you sold a book while you were on vacation.

Which is exactly why Amazon makes it very easy to temporarily suspend all of your sales. Going on vacation and won’t be able to ship anything? No problem – click a button and everything gets suspended until you get back.

They charge a flat 99 cent commission and 15% of the sale, plus they give you a shipping credit to pay for shipping.

On Sunday I put up about 20 books from those two bins I couldn’t get the used book store to buy from me and I’ve already sold 5. One was a finance book published in 1998 that went for $29.95 new and can now be had on Amazon new for $20. I read it once and it was in perfect shape. Sold it for $10. Woman who bought it got a great deal on a book she wanted and I was able to off-load a book I read once and wasn’t ever going to read again.

My success on Amazon has caused me to start looking at other selling venues. We still have a couple of bins of old books from school, and I have found a number of sites online that allow you to sell used textbooks for a another way to raise a little cash.

Am I going to get rich doing this? No. I’d be much better off just not buying the books in the first place! But it is helping raise a little cash and it is actually a little fun too so what the heck.

Maybe I’ll start buying books that way too.

[UPDATE – As of March 3rd, 2005 I have sold 80 items for a total net profit of $506.80. Read the update.]

{ 1 comment }

bailingma February 1, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Have a bad experience selling at amazon. They only protect the buyer instead of seller. Buyer got the book and paid nothing.

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