Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Sell Used Books Online: Part 3 - Where to sell books

This is part 3 of a multi-part series on selling used books online. It is based on my personal experience and is not a complete guide.  Click here for part 1 and part 2 of the series. Please watch each week for a new installment. Thanks!

So now that you've decided what types of books to sell and where you can get them for free or at a good price, where do you list them for sale?

I've sold books in three different venues: half.com, ebay.com, and Amazon.com -- there are lots of others out there, but these are the ones I felt met my needs best. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to each site.

Amazon.com has the name recognition as the online source for new books, but did you know that individuals can sell books there, too?  For instance, look at this page for In CHEAP We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue -- a book I'll be reviewing soon.  As of this writing, the book is available new from Amazon for $16.49, but available used from other sellers for $9.25.  People looking for a copy of the book might find it on Amazon, then decide to save money and go for a used copy. So you won't have to depend on buyers looking for your listing -- Amazon will steer them to it.

On the negative side, there is a lot of competition on Amazon, and prices are allowed to drop as low as $0.01.  (How do people make money by selling a book for a penny?  Power sellers can have listings fees waived, and actual shipping costs are often less than what the customer is charged.)  Also, the fees charged can be higher than ebay or half.  Amazon works best for in-demand books which are still commanding a high price for a used copy.  Once a book is no longer in demand, Amazon's benefits fade.  Also, only individual books can be sold on Amazon; book lots cannot.

half.com is another fixed price site for individual books.  It is not as well known as Amazon, but since half is owned by eBay, half.com listings are often listed on search pages from eBay.  Thus, someone who is looking for your book on eBay may be directed to your copy on half.com

The minimum price you can set for a book on half.com is $.75, so there's no issue of having to sell a book for a penny as on Amazon.  However, once a book is no longer in demand, prices will drop to that $.75.  If there is a large supply of the book, you may not be able to sell the book.  Or, you may just need to be patient as copies listed before yours are sold.  The fees are less than Amazon's, though in both cases you can list a book without a charge.

eBay is very well known for selling all kinds of merchandise through auctions.  For books, you can either sell books individually or in book lots.  I find that, except for the most rare or in-demand books, it is better to list individual books on half.com or on Amazon.com, since you'll be charged for the listing without a guarantee that you will sell the book once the auction period is over.

So when I am selling books, I generally sell
  • book lots - at eBay
  • individual books that are in demand - at Amazon
  • individual books that are not as much in demand - at half.com
Part 4: Book Lots
    Check out Frugal Friday @ Life as MOM, Frugal Friday @ Stockpiling Mom, Tuesday's Tip Jar, Madame Deals, Money Saving Monday, Tuesday's Tips, The Thrifty Home, and Tightwad Tuesday for more frugal tips.

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    Anonymous,  February 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM  

    I'll be interested to read how you sell book lots on Ebay! I have lots of books to sell and am enjoying this series.

    Sarah @ Mum In Bloom February 10, 2010 at 3:11 PM  

    This series has been really helpful. I was on Paperback Swap for a long time but I want to clean off my shelves, not add to them so was defeating it's purpose. I'm gonna give half.com a try I think. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    Jenny February 12, 2010 at 9:31 AM  

    this is so helpful. i have a shit-ton of books I want to sell that i get and don't even read. and i really hate to just throw them out. i think i'm gonna use amazon :D thanks for the tip.

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