Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I've Learned on eBay This Year

I returned to selling on eBay full-time in June, in addition to maintaining my Bonanza booth.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

With my eBay store subscription, I get 150 free listings per month.  Additionally, I receive at least one "by invitation only" free listing offer per month.  Sometimes the offer is for fixed-price listings, and other times, the offer is for auctions.  I have learned several things.

When using auctions in place of fixed-price, always place the starting bid as what would have been the Buy It Now price.  Never place the starting bid at less than the desired Buy It Now price.  What almost always happens is that the buyers do not take the Buy It Now, and the item sells at the opening bid.  To protect myself, I must have the starting bid at what I really want for the item. 

Never sell cheap items without offering free shipping.  Some buyers see that the shipping price is more than the price of the item and leave a low DSR for the shipping cost.  They fail to understand that the shipping cost is the actual cost and perceive that the seller is gouging.  They feel that if an item costs only $1.00, then the shipping should be free or only cost $0.10.  This isn't logical, but that is how some buyers think.

Never sell cheap items in rough shape on eBay.  This is for the same reason as above.  I have been able to offer this type of item on Bonanza with no problem, but on eBay, cheap items in rough shape bring out a certain type of buyer who wants something for nothing and is quick to complain.

The "My eBay" interface is better for sellers who have stores.  That alone is worth the store subscription, provided that a seller sells enough per month to justify the cost.

The interface makes it extremely easy to see when an item has sold and when an item needs to be shipped.  Printing packing slips is easier, and the packing slips are better than the ones eBay provides to sellers who do not have stores.  Additionally, bulk editing is available, which saves a lot of time.

Free shipping may help sales.  My items have been converted to free shipping for just a short period of time, so I don't know for sure how much free shipping helps with sales.  Within the first couple of days of changing all listings to free shipping, several items that I considered stagnant sold.  My sales have improved since changing over to free shipping.  After a longer period of time, I will know for sure.

A seller's ability to maintain a top-rated seller status is very shaky and is largely outside of a seller's control.  I have one low DSR in the shipping cost category which I received in late October.  I converted all of my items to free shipping immediately after I received the low DSR, but I still have quite a few buyers who have not left feedback yet who can still rate the shipping cost.

Top-rated sellers are allowed a maximum of two low DSRs per DSR category at a maximum percent of 0.50%.  The one low DSR that I have already places me above 0.50%, so if I receive one more in the shipping cost category, I lose my top-rated seller status.  While I have taken action to prevent future buyers from leaving a low shipping cost DSR, I have no control over the buyers who paid for shipping and have not yet left feedback.

eBay has a new feature where an item can be relisted for up to three times for free and not count against a seller's monthly free listings.  I haven't tried this yet, since this feature just went live in the last few days, but it sounds interesting.  I am also wary, because when an item is relisted, it can get suppressed in eBay's search because the item did not sell the previous time it was listed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Series Book Questions Fall 2013

As always, I have rewritten the questions so as not to publish direct quotes from private messages.

Is the outside of the book matte or very glossy?  I need the matte version.

The above question was asked of the book pictured on the left.  I answered with the following.

This is one of the matte picture cover books. The ones that are very glossy have a yellow band across the top of the front cover with a flashlight inside along with the volume number and logo.

The key word here is "flashlight."  If you see a flashlight at the top of the front cover, then the book is not a matte picture cover edition.  Some matte picture cover editions have a yellow band at the top of the front cover, but a flashlight is not present in the yellow band.

The book pictured on the right is one of the flashlight editions.  The flashlight is visible between "Nancy Drew Mystery Stories" and the volume number, 22, in the yellow band at the top of the front cover.  The spine shows the Nancy Drew logo near the top, and the logo is placed in the middle of the shine of a flashlight.  Once prospective buyers know where to look, a flashlight edition can be identified easily.

I have a book that is missing approximately 30 pages.  Of the pages present, approximately 30 of them are duplicated in place of the pages that are missing.  Do you know anything about this kind of error?

Errors like that do occur sometimes but not very often. I haven't ever seen any series books with pages that are duplicated, but I do have a Little Golden Book where the first half of the book is duplicated as the second half of the book. So the LGB has the right number of pages, but the second half of the story is missing. Duplicated pages usually don't increase the value, unless someone desires that particular anomaly.  Typically, any kind of error that causes some of the text to be missing greatly devalues the book.  It is interesting, nevertheless.

Is this book the first printing?  What is listed as the next Nancy Drew title on page 176?

The first printing of The Clue of the Dancing Puppet lists to The Mystery of the Fire Dragon on the back cover.  This book cannot be the first printing because the book lists to The Phantom of Pine Hill on the back cover. The Phantom of Pine Hill was published in 1965, which places this particular book in 1965. This book was printed approximately three years after the first printing from 1962. Since this book is a later printing, the next title is correctly listed as The Moonstone Castle Mystery on page 176.

What do you mean by "foxed"?

I am not certain whether the prospective buyer needed the meaning of the word or what I meant by the word.  Nevertheless, I gave the definition and explained the flaw with respect to the offered book.

"Foxed" is when a chemical reaction has occurred, causing light brown stains to occur inside old books. This book has foxing on a few scattered pages, whereas most of the book does not have foxing. I have attached a photo of two pages that are foxed.

The photo that I attached to my response is seen to the right.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Impact of Low DSRs

eBay tracks the number of one-star and two-star DSR ratings that a seller receives.  A seller is allowed no more than two low DSR ratings within each reporting period and the percentage of low DSRs cannot exceed 0.50%.  I've done pretty well being back on eBay since June, but I knew that I would eventually run into DSR problems again.  An eBay buyer has left me a low shipping cost DSR for a recent order.

Without getting into the specifics due to certain eBay policies, I was able to figure out beyond any doubt which buyer left the low DSR.  A certain buyer purchased two books in one order.  I received three stars for the first book and two stars for the second book purchased by that buyer.  I guess the buyer thought that the postage of $3.95 for the first book and $0.60 for the second book was too high and deserving of two stars for one of the books. 

I was not surprised that this particular transaction was for inexpensive books.  Many sellers report that the most troublesome buyers are often the ones who purchase cheap items.  Since the postage cost was as high as or higher than the item cost, the buyer must have felt that I charged too much.

Since I now have one low DSR rating on my account, I am in a precarious position.  If I receive one more low rating on the shipping DSR, I will fall below what eBay considers acceptable.  In order to protect myself, I have changed all of my listings over to free shipping.  With free shipping, I automatically receive five stars for shipping cost, which means that no future buyer can leave a low DSR in that category. 

I figured out what I paid for postage and packaging on the transaction that resulted in the low DSR, and I broke even on postage.  I did not overcharge at all.  I have now blocked the buyer who left the low DSR in order to prevent that person from making additional purchases and leaving low ratings.

The buyer knew the postage cost before completing the order.  If the amount seemed acceptable before completing the purchase, then the buyer should not have left a low DSR.  I have seen listings where I consider the postage to be too high.  If the postage amount takes the total cost above what I am willing to pay, I do not purchase the item.  If the postage amount keeps the total cost within what I am willing to pay and I decide to purchase the item, I do not ding the seller's shipping cost DSR.  I made the decision to purchase the item, so I take the responsibility.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre

The final book in the Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre was released on October 29.  Last year, I reviewed the first book, Enclave, in this blog.  The Razorland Trilogy consists of the following books.

1.  Enclave, 2011
2.  Outpost, 2012
3.  Horde, 2013

When Horde was released last week, I had just finished reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth, and that did not go well.  Quite frankly, I was scared to read Horde, because I was fearful that another excellent trilogy was about to be ruined by the author.  In reading the reviews for Horde on Amazon, I realized that I was not the only Razorland Trilogy reader who was frightened.  We were all frightened because we were still traumatized from the inexplicably different tone that Allegiant had from the previous two Divergent books, and we found the story to be convoluted and boring.  Ugh.  So much for the Divergent Trilogy.

I am happy to report that Horde has the same tone as Enclave and Outpost and is just as interesting as the previous two books.  Deuce is the same Huntress as before, and she is still a little fireball.  Horde wraps up the trilogy nicely and in a satisfying fashion.  This is not to say that everything is all "unicorns and rainbows," but the reader will be very pleased with the end result.

Several times, I have been very disappointed in the final book in a series or trilogy.  Awhile back, I observed that I tend to be more disappointed when the series received too much hype or has become too popular.  I was disappointed in the ending to Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, both series that became far too popular.  I should have known that the Divergent Trilogy would end up like those two series.  The Divergent Trilogy is wildly popular with the same disappointing result in the final book.  Actually, the final book in the Divergent Trilogy is far worse than what happened with either Harry Potter or the Hunger Games.  Harry Potter just needed better editing in the final half of the series, and the Hunger Games needed better editing in the final book.  Allegiant needs a plot change and total rewrite from start to finish. 

The Razorland Trilogy is not nearly as popular as Divergent, Harry Potter, or the Hunger Games, and now that I have read the entire trilogy, I am most grateful that it is not as popular.  Thank goodness the author did not ruin the trilogy!

If you like young adult dystopian novels, then you will almost certainly love the Razorland Trilogy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

People Who Want to Buy Sets of Books

I get asked a least a few times per year whether I have a complete set of Nancy Drew books, Trixie Belden books, or some other series that I can sell to whomever asks.  The prospective buyer asks how much the set would cost and what the postage would be.  Depending upon the request, I may not have a complete set of extra books together.  Sometimes I do, but I always reply that I don't.

Most of the books that I sell were purchased in partial or complete sets, which gives me a wholesale price.  These days, complete sets sell for less than the total for which the books will sell individually.  I am not interested in taking a complete set and reselling it for what I paid for it.  I am also not comfortable with marking the set up to a much higher price and selling it to the person who asked.  I also want the books for individual inventory, so the last thing I want is to get rid of a bunch of them all at once.

Sometimes I do sell sets of books, but this is always done to get rid of certain books fast without taking as much of a loss as I would if I were to sell an incomplete set.  I decided recently to clear out all of my Nancy Drew Twin Thriller books that I had for sale.  It was a partial set, and I determined that I would have to sell the books at less than what I paid for them.  Instead, I put together a complete set of Nancy Drew #1-56 so that the Twin Thriller books would be part of a complete set. 

I sold the set for $199.99 with free shipping, and the lot only took a few days to sell.  After subtracting shipping and fees, I got around $150 for the books.  I managed to avoid taking a loss, which was my goal.  If I had decided to be patient with selling the Twin Thriller editions individually and had also chosen to sell the rest of the books individually, I would likely have gotten over $200 for the books.  One does take less when selling books as a complete set. 

Around six years ago, I had a strange request from a prospective buyer.  This person asked me if I would put together a complete set of Motor Boys books in dust jacket for him.  He wanted to pay me in advance and was willing to pay whatever I thought the books would end up costing.  He didn't want to do the work himself; he wanted somebody else to find him the books.  He didn't mind if it took a year or more for me to acquire the books.  Remember, he wanted to pay in advance for this set of books.

I had a problem with this request for a number of reasons.  I didn't want to invest my time and energy into searching for books for somebody else.  I wanted that time to search for my own books.  I was not at all comfortable with taking a large sum  of money one or more years ahead of time for a set of books that I would likely have much trouble building.  I also had no idea how much the books would end up costing and how much to charge.  Last, I knew that if I spent a significant amount of time building this set that I would likely get attached to books and not want to sell them.  Needless to say, I declined this person's request.