Online bookselling, any suggestions?

In unpacking from my recent move, I realized that I have a lot of books I’m never going to want to read again, and I’ve decided that it’s time to do some serious purging of my library. This leads to the question of the best way to dispose of the excess. The easiest thing to do, I suppose, would be to take them to one of the local used book store and exchange them for credit to buy more books. But I’m thinking of trying to sell them myself, and have been checking out my options. I’ve sold some duplicate DVDs on eBay, but I’ve been told that with books I’m better off using Amazon, so I looked into that, as well as some of the other online booksellers, like Alibris and abebooks. I thought I’d see if any Dopers have had any experience with any of them, or might have some other suggestions.

Most of what I’m probably going to have is old mysteries and science fiction, hardcovers and paperbacks, going back to the 80s, with some even earlier. I also have a bunch of advanced galley proofs which I got at book shows; I can’t sell those on Amazon, because they were not originally intended for retail sale and Amazon considers them “prohibited items”. A random search of Amazon also shows that a number of books I want to sell aren’t on their inventory, which means I’d have to sign up to be an Amazon Pro Merchant in order to write up a description myself. Depending on the number of books I end up wanting to sell, it might be worth it to avoid Amazon’s listing fees, which I think are a bit high.

So, suggestions, comments? I’m retired, so I do have the time to spend setting up inventory and monitoring online sales. I might also start selling other stuff (I have some old computer games and equipment, and I’m considering culling my CD collection too).

I wonder what it means that most of your stuff isn’t listed at Amazon. Do you have rare treasures or stuff that nobody’s interested in? You won’t know unless you open the store. :slight_smile:

It’s fun, and Amazon’s easy to work with. If you haven’t already done so, read the seller board for a few days – there’s lots of good advice there.

I sold for a couple of years and did well with newer books, with older books by authors who had a new book out, and with books that had a small initial print run – collectible stuff.

When my stock got down to a couple hundred items that were also being sold by the penny sellers, I closed the store and donated what was left.

I never tried abebooks, alibris, or ebay. Amazon was just easier to use.

What are you looking to sell em all for? Sci-Fi you say?

I’ve had great luck with, the media side of ebay. When your book’s not in their inventory, you email them to request it is added; doesn’t cost anything as far as I can tell. The galley proofs would be best sold on ebay, I’d guess, if there’s no ISBN for them in the published world.
FWIW, I’ve been buying and selling on Half since 2002.

Amazon’s search engine is dumb.

Go to the Books/Advanced Search function, & try & locate your item. Then, when you do (& you almost certainlly will) locate your item, click on the Sell Your Item button.

I’ve used Amazon as Buyer & Seller alike for years. It’s a good deal.

BTW-- email your customers 14 days after the sale, & ask for a Feedback Ratings. Lots of Ratings = more sales.

And, get brown paper bags at the supermarket. They make great package wrapping.

AuntiePam: I may have been a bit premature in assuming that some of my books weren’t listed by Amazon. I had tried to do a search and couldn’t find them, but I tried again later, this time using the full author’s name in quotes and had much better luck. In fact, one book was priced in the $35-$50 range. :slight_smile:

I didn’t know they had a seller’s board…I’ll have to check that out. Maybe I can get some help verifying whether some of my books are collectible.

Epimetheus: I’m still unpacking and sorting a lot of my library (I just moved last October, and didn’t have time to do this before the move). This may be an ongoing process over the next five to six months, so it would be hard to set a bulk price. But if you’re interested, when I get further along I can let you know what I have in the way of SF.

Nawth Chucka: I hadn’t thought of, although now that you mention it I remember a friend telling me about buying books he hadn’t been able to find anywhere else there. I’ll check them out.

Hey, Bosda! I’ve bought a couple of books from you on Amazon when you mentioned them on Fathom. I’m slowly building up my positive feedbacks on eBay with DVD sales, and didn’t realize that Amazon had a similar system.

If you are interested in getting more books to read instead of money, you might want to take a look at It’s not limited to paperbacks. You post the books you want to swap, and get credits for the books you send to other members. All you pay is postage. I’ve been a member for just over a year and love it - I’ve thinned out the books I won’t read again and my “to be read” bookshelf is pleasantly plump.

Background: I sell books online for a non-profit company.

ABE and Alibris charge very high commissions and give very low shipping credits. You’re more likely to lose money with them in the long run.

My advice is list them on Amazon (they have a nice listing program built right in), the startup costs can be a little steep (depending on your definition of steep), but are worth it if you have enough inventory. If you have anything antique or collectible (signed, etc) list them on Ebay. Amazon doesn’t handle signed books very well.

You can use addall or bookfinder (both websites) to compare prices if they are not available on Amazon. Amazon will add your listing to their database if you provide enough information.

I don’t have much experience with, except from before they were bought by Ebay.

Read through Amazon’s Seller’s page. It’s fairly clear and concise.

Good luck.

First, thank you. :slight_smile:

Second, what can I do to improve service?

Third, yes, there is a Feedback system. Just go to Your Account, then look up the order. Next to it is a Leave Feedback button. Easy.

Maybe, but I wouldn’t use just brown paper for hardcover books, unless the corners are already bumped.

I used padded mailers for paperbacks and DVDs, and hardcovers that weren’t perfect. I shipped mint condition hardcovers in boxes (recycled from Amazon purchases), after wrapping the book in bubble wrap.

Yeah, it’s no wonder I didn’t make any money. :slight_smile:

I did a little more research today, both online and in my library. doesn’t allow you to sell reading copies or galley proofs either, so I guess I’ll have to sell those through eBay. I also noticed that a number of the hardcovers I’m thinking of selling are book club editions, which I don’t think Amazon has a problem with, but I will be sure to mention it in my description to avoid returns. And I’ll probably go with padded envelopes; I’d already checked prices at Staples and if I buy in quantity they aren’t too bad.

SnakesCatLady, thanks for the tip on Paperback; I’ve already got several bookcases of unread books but I might use them, particularly if I can pick up ones I’m having trouble finding in exchange for books I’m not keeping.

FilmGeek, I’d already suspected that ABE and Alibris wouldn’t be cost-effective. I think I’m probably going to wait until I’ve had time to build up a fair-sized inventory so I can list them all at once.

We used to sell books on Amazon several years ago. We’d go to dozens of library sales and buy up hundreds - even thousands - of books, then list them on on Amazon, Alibris and Sales were vigorous but the profits weren’t that great. The only time we made any money was when we started selling videos. We’ve been doing that since 2002 and now have our own website. We make enough to pay the bills and even have a small fulltime staff to help with packaging, bookkeeping and shipping.

The trick is finding videos that people are looking for. There’s so much competition out there.

At first we’d buy used DVDs. But there’s not much profit there. Then we had a Chinese manufacturer dropship for us. Worst experience I ever had. We were told the DVDs looked exactly like the American counterpart. This wasn’t true. There was Chinese writing on both the covers and the labels. More often than not these were returned to us by our Amazon customers.

After that we started doing research and finally found a supplier from whom we now purchase in bulk. And we’re quite happy with the product.

We no longer sell on Amazon, Alibris, Ebay or any other site where we have to pay a commission. We have our own site at People find us through Google Product Search. And we also have a small number of Amazon and Ebay sellers who we dropship for.

Google will soon be going to a pay-per-click format which I expect will be costly, so we’re looking for more people to dropship for. If you’re interested, go to for details.

About the Amazon penny book sellers - can anyone tell me what their deal is? Do they somehow get a cut of the shipping?


they ship cheap, & in bulk, but this only works for big sellers.

Also, they are on the Amazon Pro service.
Instead of paying a cut per book, like small sellers do, they pay a flat rate per month, & can peddle for less.

But Amazon Pro ain’t worth it, unless you’re selling 100 books per month or more.

How does that compare to the option of just sending all your books to amazon?