Amazon sellers: where do you get your packing materials from?

I recently decided to list a couple books on Amazon’s marketplace, to see if I could get a few bucks for some books I was going to throw out. What I’m trying to figure out is where to get the cheapest (yet effective) packing materials. That $3.99 really doesn’t go far if you’re buying individual jiffy pack envelopes at Staples.

I know there are a couple Dopers who sell a lot on Amazon, so what advice can you give me on packaging? Any other random advice about being an Amazon seller? I’ve listed all my books at a couple dollars cheaper than the cheapest, since I don’t have any feedback yet and would like to get the books out of my house already.

Am I right in assuming that I’m going to have to declare this on my income tax return, too? Any information would be much appreciated!

If you want to buy them, you should be able to get all the packaging material you need from Uline.

You can also request free shipping supplies from USPS, FedEx, and UPS, which of course is probably a better deal for you. I guess UPS and FedEx would have free padded envelopes but they may only accept them for express shipments (not ground). I dont know if USPS has free padded envelopes but I dont see why they wouldn’t.

Yes, you must declare your income to the IRS.

I don’t know anything about US tax law but this seems odd. Surely you would only have to declare income if you were selling them for more than you bought them for, and then only the profit would need to be declared?

Yeah, you can theoretically deduct the cost. But can you prove how much you paid for it all those years ago? :slight_smile:

There’s also a minimum of, I believe, $600, below which the income counts as a hobby and does not need to be reported.

I’ll second Uline. Nobody beats them for selection or price. Customer service is good too.

You declare all of your income and you may deduct reasonable and ordinary business expenses. If the expenses exceed income, you’ll have a net loss to deduct on your taxes, but you must still declare the gross receipts. In fact, gross receipts over $400 will require you to file a tax return even if you’d otherwise be exempt from filing and even if the business generated a net loss.

Damn, missed the edit window.

Just thought I’d mention that there is an exception to the reporting rule for personal-use capital assets. Since those losses are not deductible, you generally do not have to report the sale. If you’re doing the equivalent of a garage sale, this rule will cover you.

However, the IRS will assume that it’s business income if Amazon sends you a 1099-MISC (and they will if you sell more than $600 worth). The IRS will expect to see it on your tax return somewhere or you’ll get a letter about it.

For most books, you can make reasonable packaging with a large piece of scrap cardboard and some packing tape. Just cut out a shape that wraps around the book exactly, and tape it up. If you want you can add a bit of padding as well (a layer of newspaper or old plastic grocery bags works here). IME, this worked well for anything hardcover, and sturdier softcovers. Really floppy books needed something with more external structure.

I haven’t used bubble envelopes in years.

I salvage clean bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard and wrap the package in kraft paper (big roll from Staples). It takes longer than dropping the book into an envelope but the package can be made totally secure, no room for the book to shift in the package.

I buy lots of books from amazon and many of them come in a cardboard box that folds around the book. I re-use those by scraping the old shipping address labels off. Obviously, this solution depends on the volume of your incoming books exceeding your outgoing.

I also use ULINE like others mention. Buying a bulk supply of boxes from them is cheaper than Office Depot and Staples.

If the book includes a CDROM or other supplement, emphasize in your description that your includes that CDROM. Many sellers sell books with the extras missing.

If your book is a revised 2nd edition or 10th edition, emphasize that your books is the latest revised edition. This is especially useful for textbooks.

To generalize, just read the other amazon marketplace sellers’ book descriptions and it will trigger ideas in what to write in yours.

Putting them at the lowest price is a good idea to move them out. I don’t sell books on amazon to make money. It just feels weird to throw them in the trash so I resell them on amazon to keep them out of the landfill.

You are selling your books at a loss so there’s no “income” to declare.

I have never sold books but the couple or so I have shipped just went into an envelope I picked up at the post office. Since I was not selling I don’t know how much they charged for the envelope.

The free envelopes and boxes available from UPS or FedEx are only for express shipping - not ground service. There will be a note somewhere on the box or envelope describing exactly what it’s for. Ignore this at your own risk, and don’t be surprised if the shipment is returned to you if you try to sneak it through. They’ve gotten wise to people opening up the boxes and assembing them inside out as well - a lot of the boxes now have FedEx or UPS logos printed on the inside, making it obvious where they came from.

You can get free boxes from the USPS, but they’re only usable for Priority Mail or Express Mail. They’re not accepted for Parcel Post or Media Mail.

I haven’t seen free padded envelopes from any service in ages - just flat tagboard envelopes suitable for shipping documents or an assortment of boxes.

Thank you very much for all the responses so far. I sold all three books I listed after 3 hours, so I may have priced them a bit too aggressively!

I’m off to find some cardboard and kraft paper!

This is what I did in college when I had books to sell back. Wrap the book in grocery bags, cut two pieces of cardboard slightly larger than the book, then sandwich the wrapped book between the cardboard and secure the whole thing with duct tape. Voila–cheap custom packaging that’s highly durable and pretty waterproof.

I have found that dollar stores often have the best prices on padded envelopes.

Did you send these books via the USPS? Because my understanding is that they do not approve the use of duct tape. (And it’s expensive relative to shipping tape.)

I used duct tape 'cause it was what I had on hand. All of my shipments went out via USPS, and no one at the post office ever so much as commented on the tape.

However, it wasn’t like the whole thing was covered in it–the tape just sealed each of the edges.

Let’s move this to In My Humble Opinion, where you can get advice.

samclem Moderator, General Questions

Let me tell you what I look for as a buyer that too many Amazon resellers screw up:

[li]I need to know what condition the book is in. You don’t have to give a precise grading but I need to know if it’s been beat up, marked, and in the case of hard cover books if it has a dust jacket. Yeah, it’s a pain to document that stuff but I’ll skip over listings that don’t have those details.[/li][li]Ship immediately. I don’t mean take an order and go out that second but don’t put off mailing an order a single day. I might not notice a day or two but beyond that I’m noticing that you don’t ship quickly and remembering it for the future.[/li][li]I don’t get bothered about packaging but it needs some kind of padding and secure wrapping. It’s not a deal breaker what type of packing you use; wrapping it in a a thick layer of newspaper and then cardboard might be good enough for some books.[/li][/ul]

I purchase my bubble mailers at

Bookselling zombiefying spammer reported.