Selling books online

Lately I’ve had very good luck with eBay selling DVDs and board games. When I listed my first group of items, I did include approximately 15 hard cover books as well. I did sell three of them (to one customer) but none of the others moved at all. I had a price of, I think, $2-3 per book plus shipping.

So I investigated other sites. At Alibris they charge you a fee to join of $19.99 and 1.00 per sale. At Amazon they charge 15% per book plus .99 per book. If you choose the Amazon Merchant option you are charged a flat $39.99 up front and the .99 charge is waived, however, I believe that the 15% per book charge is still in effect.

What the heck? Both of these other options are pretty pricey. I’d hate to plop down $19.99 at Alibris, list a bunch of books at about 2-3 bucks per plus shipping only to watch them not sell. The Amazon one is brutal. Way too much up front for merchant status and with at ton of used hard covers selling for .01, there is no way I would even make up my up front fee.

Moral of this story, has anyone found any other online place that’s seller friendly besides eBay? I’m half tempted to give Alibris a shot but I would have to list a lot of books and sell them to make up the cost.

Bolding mine. Unless you’re selling recently published books or hard-to-find editions (collectibles), I don’t think there’s any way to make a decent profit on books, anywhere.

Amazon’s shipping arrangement helps offset the 15%/$.99 seller fee. Buyers pay $3.99 for shipping, and the actual mailing cost is usually much less ($2.07 for a paperback/small hardcover, I think). You get to keep the difference.

But if your books are also being offered by penny sellers, it’s probably not worth the hassle.

Have you tried It’s a subsidiary of eBay, but it’s designed for stuff like DVDs, software, books, etc. I usually sell and buy all my college textbooks on there and they move quickly.

Amazon has another fee, the “Variable Closing Fee,” of $1.35 on each book sale. It pretty much is a cut of the Shipping Fee.

So, you really need to find books that can be sold for at least $4.00 to break even.

Yeah, that’s what I figured. How do they do that? Even with a ton of inventory it seems like it would be difficult to make any kind of profit?

That’s such crap! Every single book I looked up was being offered for a penny and in good, great, like new condition. The individual schlub seller like me just cannot see a profit from Amazon, that’s for sure!

Yay! I knew there was another site that I wasn’t remembering. Bingo. I’m going there to investigate right now! Thank you so much!!!

The customer gets charged $3.99 for shipping. Amazon takes something, $1.35 or whatever. Postage is also around $1.35. That leaves $1.29 profit. If you’re a commercial bookstore with tons of worthless books sitting in back taking up space that could be used for valuable inventory and a staff that has to be paid anyway even if they only keying in books, this is the best deal of all time.

Most used books are worthless except at a money. The system isn’t designed for individuals to sell worthless books. Why should it be?

The systems are good for people selling books of worth, that is, worth at least $5.00. There were no such systems before. So these systems are fantastic for that.

I don’t see why you’re complaining that you can’t sell things that nobody wants. Does anything work well that way?

Thank for stopping by.

I have been selling books off and on for a year or so on Ebay, which is the best deal I’ve found so far… and as you discovered, you ain’t gonna get rich on it. Some books just aren’t worth putting up for sale that way.

I don’t have a good answer for you, if I did, I’d be using it myself.

I used to buy books on eBay but the trouble is shipping is so much. You can ship that slow way (I forget the name) but that can take months.

I think your best bet is to group similar themed books and sell them as a lot. You might want to try Craigslist. If you want to give them away you might want to try Freecycle as well.

That’s Media Mail. The post office lists the shipping time as 7-10 business days, but it usually arrives much faster.

And while Exapno’s answers might sound harsh, it’s the truth. The market is absolutely flooded with books that are between 2 and 10 years old. Hundreds of copies and a buyer only rarely. So the prices get driven down to absolutely nothing. Anything older than that and you may as well give them away.

Yep. Everything I’ve bought for the last few years (probably hundreds of books) can be found for a penny. I usually end up paying a bit more, but not much more. I look at the seller’s rating and I don’t buy if it’s less than 98% positive. And I don’t buy if the book isn’t described in some detail. “We ship fast!” or “May have some underlining” doesn’t cut it.

But despite that, PeacePlease, you might try Amazon. Put a realistic price on your books, describe them well, package them nicely and ship fast, and you might be surprised at the results. It doesn’t cost anything to try, except your time. The best thing about Amazon (besides having the largest market) is that they’ll collect your money for you.

The trick is to find the booksmthat are worth selling. That is not easy, and you will find that 99.97% of all the bookd you can find are not worth trying to resell.

I have been selling on Amazon for about five years now. In a good month I can make enough profit from used book sales to pay the mortgage, and I have never had more than 2000 items in inventory at any one time.

I appreciate the advice from everyone (except Exapno). I’m rockin’ eBay right now and I have posted some books on If neither works or continues to work, I’ll just stop…no biggie.

I’m unemployed and just trying to make some extra money! So far I’m at the $200 mark with eBay and couldn’t be happier.

Exapno, sorry for bothering you with my “complaint”. Really wish I could swear in here. All you did was come in and *$&@ in a thread where your advice was not needed. It’s rude.

Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes, the truth is neutral but isn’t what you wanted to hear. This is one of those cases. While you may not want to hear that selling a book that’s more than a year old is hard, it’s the truth. There’s hundreds of sellers and few buyers. Getting pissy at Exapno won’t make what he said not true.

I was gonna let it go but no. This was my original question. Why is it necessary to come in and NOT answer the question but decide that what I’m trying to do is pointless and I’m complaining? This board is famous for doing this and it’s not helpful. If you don’t have anything to offer toward the OP then no comment is necessary from you. You just make people feel shitty. Is that the objective?

I’m not sure how this works out for the seller, but on the principle that what is good for the buyer may create a market, I’ll mention it. Some of the best used book deals I see online are for several books in a series sold as a batch. This is great if there is a series I want to read, but even $4 each seems a bit much for each used paperback, when I know I can get them for a dollar or less if I shop the library book sale or yard sales. Search for a major mystery author like Michael Connelly on ebay to see an example of pricing.

Yes, this is the reason I don’t like the Amazon Book marketplace. Why put a completely arbitrary $4 minimum on every single book? It’s stupid. We all know that shipping is nowhere near $4, yet they continue this fiction.

I will gladly pay $4 for some used books, but usually not for those priced at a penny. Those I can almost always find at a library book sale for $1-$2. Plus, when I am interested in buying a mass-market paperback, who in their right mind would ever pay $4 for a used copy when a new one is just a few bucks more? It’s a stupid system.

If they insist on retaining the four dollar shipping fee, then they should allow sellers to sell books for negative dollars so the market can find a true bottom.

We sold on Alibris years ago. Didn’tmake a lot of money on books. But did okay with DVDs.

We used to sell books on Amazon several years ago as well. 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.