Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Selling Used Books Online: Part 6 - Marketing Your Books

This is part 6 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, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 of the series. Please watch each week for a new installment. Thanks!

Last week I talked about some strategies about selling children's book lots.  Whether you're selling book lots on eBay or individual books on half.com or Amazon, you'll want to keep in mind how you're presenting your books for sale, and how a good presentation can improve your sales!

On half.com and Amazon, most of the work is done for you.  Users will come to the site and search for the book they're looking for, and hopefully they'll see your listing.  There isn't all that much you can do to distinguish yourself from your competition, but you can do the following:
  • Describe the condition of the book in positive terms.  Use phrases that allow the buyer to visualize the book - words like "shiny cover," "tight binding," "like new condition."  That assumes, of course, that this is true!  If a hardback book has its original dust jacket, mention that. You do need to admit to any flaws in the book, but those should be mentioned after the good attributes.  The product page will only show the first couple of lines of comments; any other comments will be seen after the buyer clicks on your product and is that much closer to purchasing your copy.
  • Get positive feedback.  You can get positive feedback by selling or by purchasing.  If you're new to the selling service, you might want to purchase a few items so that you'll have a feedback score before starting to sell.
  • Offer different forms of shipping.  Media Mail is by far the least expensive, but some buyers may want the book to arrive quicker.  If you're willing to ship via a faster service, make this known.
  • Price your item well.  All other things being equal, most used book buyers will want to pay as little as possible.  Decide on your lowest price, then price your item either at that price or a bit lower than your competition but higher than your minimum.  Keep an eye on prices using the seller tools for the site - a competitor may see that you've priced your book lower and set their prices lower than yours as a result.  But don't get into a price war where you price your book lower than what you'd be willing to take for it.
  • Double-check your spelling and grammar.  You want to look professional!
For eBay auctions, there is a lot more you can do to help get bids and sell your item for as much as it will go for.  Here are some ideas:
  • Use the seller tools provided by eBay.  Turbo Lister 2 is a program you can use to prepare your listings ahead of time and then upload them when you're ready to start selling.
  • Title your item well.  Think about what a buyer might type into the search box in order to find your item.  Definitely put "books" and "lot" in the title.  If it's a specialized lot, mention that in the title.  If it's a children's book lot for 2nd grade level books, mention that!  Also mention how many books are in your lot.
  • Make sure that the listing is easy and appealing to read.  Use a large, clear font; use color to highlight information, use bolding and italics to vary the look and give emphasis.  Don't crowd all the information; use white space where necessary.  
  • Take one good picture.  You'll want to show all the books that are in the lot so the buyer can see what they are getting.  Make sure there's plenty of light and that any extraneous items in the picture are cropped out.  You can post multiple pictures, but there is a charge for each extra one.
  • Offer different forms of shipping.  Again, some people may want quicker service.
  • Set a low starting price.  Figure out the minimum you'd be willing to take the lot for, and set your price there.  The low price will attract potential buyers, and they may start to feel that the auction items are theirs already, and thus bid the price up higher when another potential buyer bids.  The more potential buyers, the higher the bids could potentially go.
Part 7: What If My Books Don't Sell?

Check out these sites for more great tips!

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Jamie @ I Am A Money Magnet March 9, 2010 at 11:49 PM  

I need to start selling books online! I hope to get around to lisitng some of the books I have laying around here. Thanks for your tips!! Thanks for linking to Thrifty Tip Tuesday!

Katia March 10, 2010 at 8:12 AM  

Thank you so much for the tips. I often wondered about half.com, now I must give it try.
Have a great day,

Melissa March 11, 2010 at 10:31 AM  

Thanks for all the tips! I am off for spring break next week and plan on doing some "Spring cleaning" - hopefully I can list and sell some of the books we have sitting around! Thanks for linking up!

Hannah Gold March 11, 2010 at 10:28 PM  

I have been selling online on Ebay for years. Yuu do not get the money you used to get, but you can still make some with the right titles and series.

One thing to mention in your title is "AR" for Accelerated Reader. It is a Scholastic Program that schools use to give reading tests. You can get the points and levels for each title and list them in your listing. It takes more time, but is worth the effort.


Angela of Blog Mommas March 16, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

Thanks for participating in last week's Tuesday Tip Jar. Our category links has changed. Just thought you should know. More Tuesday Tip Jars are coming!

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