Friday, June 3, 2016

The Best Place to Sell Your Books

Rather often, I get contacted by people who want to sell their books to me.  They want me to find a good home for the books without them having to go to any effort.  The books are always ordinary books not worth my time.  Others don't want me to buy the books, but rather, they want me to tell them how to sell the books so that the books can find a good home.  The majority of these messages include a comment stating that they do not wish to use eBay.

Then they are out of luck.

I have never told any of them that, but it's a shame that the single best method to use to help an old book find a good home is the one method that none of these people will consider.  Why is that?

I suspect that one reason is the bad press eBay has received over the years.  I wrote many posts about eBay in 2008 and 2009 expressing my frustration with eBay's many anti-seller changes.  During that time, eBay made a series of idiotic moves that heavily damaged sellers' ability to conduct business.  eBay has reversed all of those changes.  None of that is true now, and those posts are no longer relevant. 

Another reason people don't want to use eBay is that they have heard of others who have been defrauded on eBay.  You can actually avoid being defrauded if you take some simple steps to protect yourself.  If you buy on eBay, be cautious about what you buy and file a PayPal claim if you don't receive the item.  You will get your money back.

If you sell on eBay, follow the seller protection plan.  Always use eBay to generate the shipping label so that it contains delivery confirmation.  Always sell through one of your eBay listings and not through a private message, which is where buyers try to pull scams.  Never close an auction early at a buyer's request, because any buyer who asks for an auction to be closed early is pulling a scam.

As a buyer, I have had a few sellers defraud me, but this is only around five people out of thousands of transactions.  I received my money back in all but one transaction, which was one from 1997 or 1998 before eBay had a buyer protection plan.

As a seller, I have never been defrauded, because I follow eBay's seller protection plan. 

In short, eBay is a safe marketplace and is the best way to find buyers for your items.  Furthermore, books are the very safest item to sell on eBay.  Book collectors are much less likely to cause problems than buyers from most other categories.

Another reason some people don't like eBay is because they don't get good prices for their items.  That problem can be solved as well.  It's quite simple.  Don't use auctions.  You won't get a bidding war, and you'll sell your item too low to somebody who is buying to resell. 

I always used auctions on eBay from 1997 through late 2008.  Auctions were great through the summer of 2008.  In the fall of 2008, auctions began to fail.  Auctions for series books brought low prices, and most of my own listings did not sell.  If I remember right, each auction cost $0.30 to list at that time.  I had listed quite a few auctions in December 2008, and most of them did not sell.  I think I wasted around $6 to $10 in fees for nothing.  That was unacceptable and is why I opened my booth on Bonanzle (renamed Bonanza in September 2010).

I realized in December 2008 that my discomfort with fixed-price had caused me to keep running auctions on eBay for longer than I should have.  When I went to Bonanzle, I was forced to use fixed-priced only, but I was willing to try because Bonanzle was free.  I sold on Bonanzle/Bonanza for 4 1/2 years without using eBay at all for selling.  I became very comfortable with fixed-price during that time and became quite confident in my ability to price books correctly under that method.

As a side note, I want to mention that I never quit buying on eBay.  During the 4 1/2 years that I did not list items for sale on eBay, I bought steadily on eBay and at the same rate that I always had.  My home page in my Internet browser has been set to eBay's search page since 1997.  That should tell you something.  eBay is the best place to buy books.

In July 2013, I returned to selling on eBay in addition to continuing to sell on Bonanza.  The reason I opened the store on eBay is because sales were beginning to fail on Bonanza.  My Bonanza sales fell further immediately after I opened my eBay store and never recovered.  Apparently I had cannibalized my own Bonanza sales.  Still, Bonanza was failing, and even if I had not opened the eBay store, my Bonanza sales would eventually have vanished.

Being on Bonanza taught me how to use fixed-price listings to my advantage.  I learned about the importance of Google ranking.  I learned many things.  I also ended up exhausted by the process, since the site has poor Google ranking.  I don't have it in me to start over on another free site where I would have to bring the traffic in.  That's why I went with Etsy, a site that does have traffic.

Most important, my experience on Bonanza taught me that fixed-price is the only way to price collectible items.  As a buyer, I highly prefer auctions.  I prefer them because I get bargains.  And that's exactly the reason why as a seller I hate auctions.

Some of you continue to cling to the eBay auctions.  I understand, since that's where I was in late 2008.  It always worked before, and we want it to continue to work.  However, I would highly recommend that you consider switching to fixed-price.

First, you need to let go of the belief that you have to sell the item within a week or two.  Most of my fixed-price listings do sell.  It just takes some time.  It might take a few months.  If I'm in a hurry, then I gradually reduce the price each month until the listing sells.

Second, you have to get comfortable with pricing a fixed-price listing.  Let's say you have a copy of a book that is somewhat scarce.  You should first see if any are for sale on eBay and see how they are priced.  If there are any at a fixed price, then you will probably want to price yours slightly cheaper since theirs has not sold.  Next, look at sold listings.  The auctions are always low, so you want to price your book higher than all auctions that ended with a winning bid.

The price range for the listing should be between the highest auction price and the lowest unsold fixed-price listing.  That is, usually.  Condition matters, so the condition of your book as compared to the other books is the deciding factor.  If your book is nicer than the unsold fixed-price listing, then in some cases your book might need to be priced higher.  It all depends.

I have had great success with using this method of pricing.  Since I started using this method, I seldom have had books bought by others to resell.  In late 2008 when I was still using auctions, a large percent of my books were getting purchased for resale, which means the prices were too low.

I actually don't care if sellers buy my books to sell at a higher price.  However, I do want to get as much as I can for myself to fund my book habit.  As long as I use fixed-price and have set a fair price, then I am not concerned with who buys my items or why.

In conclusion, eBay is the overall very best place to buy and sell collectible books.  Amazon is the #1 shopping site in traffic while eBay is #2, but eBay holds the edge due to the ease with which anybody can list items for sale. 

If you have books to sell and want them to find a good home, use eBay.

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