6 tips for selling books online

6 tips for sellling books online -- A Pinch of Joy

We are redecorating, renovating and renewing.   Of course, you can’t do that without moving everything you own twice.  Once to get it out the work space and once to put it back or in a new space.  Or you can use the opportunity to declutter – big time.  This is part one of an occasional series on the Big Rid:  Decluttering or How to get rid of things that no longer support the life we live!  

The Big Rid actually started with a huge collection of nonfiction books.  Textbooks from a degree or two.  Books from work in a highly specialized field which dried up with the economic changes in 2008.  Each shelf holds 85 to 100+ books on a specific topic, about ½ inch wide each. Seven units of six shelves — each full and then piled to the ceiling on top in just the basement alone.   A lot of books!  

Yes, I read them — except the big reference books. I’m not that nerdy! 

I started by donating those reference books to a college library.  The local city library hosts a used book sale every year so they received a couple hundred books on general topics.   Several trips were made to a resell book store where we averaged $10/box.  Not very profitable – but honestly in some cases the staff made the decision of whether to recycle or reuse that I couldn’t quite do!  No brainer for them and painless for me.  A bonus for the ice cream store down the street :-) 

  That still left a LOT of books.  Someone told me about half.com, the bookseller on eBay.    Then I branched out to selling books on Amazon.  Because the topics of my books are specialized, there isn’t a huge market but it is steady. If your books have a wide base of appeal, are recent and in top condition they will sell more quickly.  Here’s six tips I’ve learned for selling your books online, whether half a dozen or a thousands.

[1]  Prepare shipping supplies.  I ordered padded envelopes in bulk from suppliers on eBay, much cheaper than buying from the office supply store.  You’ll need two sizes – one that will handle 8×11 size books and one that fits the smaller books.  Padded envelopes will handle almost all paperbacks.  Small to medium sized hardback books will need an extra wrap of padding before inserting in the envelope.  You will also need clear packing tape. 

[2] Purchase a digital postage scale so you can print postage from your computer.  Mine cost about $20 on eBay.  I am surprised at how often I use it for other things besides postage!  Both Amazon and eBay will let you print postage by inputting the package weight on a postage screen.  Affix the mailing label to your package and mail with any other outgoing mail at your door or your nearby postoffice.  Since almost everything is shipped media mail with tracking,  there is little hassle with postage rates. 

[3] Set up your seller account.  I started selling on half.com because it was originally set up for textbooks although they facilitate the sale of other books as well.  However, most people think of Amazon when they think books. Both have professional sellers as competition for your book, but you have the personal advantage.   There is a difference in fees, with Amazon somewhat higher – but you will probably have more exposure.  Both are very easy to use as far as listing, purchasing postage and receiving payment.  Choose one or both.  If you list books on both sites, don’t forget to delete the book that sold on the other site.  There are other online sites that might suit you as well so do a search.  Some will even purchase  recent textbooks outright which has its advantages! 

[4]  List your books.    Each book has a 10 or 14 digit IBSN (International Book Sellers Number).  Enter the number in the correct field, press enter and the book description is available.  Select the condition of your book, make note of any defects (be brutally honest here!)  and set the price.  Both Amazon and eBay will automatically display the price range of books in that condition currently for sale.  I choose toward the high range and then, if the book doesn’t sell after a few months, begin to lower it over a period of time.  Amazon has a convenient smartphone app, that lets you capture the IBSN and set up the listing from your phone. 

[5]  When books have been listed, store them so you can find them quickly to fulfill an order.  Alphabetize the first stack you enter for sale as you put them back on the shelf.  Add each subsequent stack to that alphabetical order.  Quick and painless organization that will save you so much time and energy!  Trust me!    

[6]  Give good customer service.  You will receive an email when you’ve sold a book. Deal with it ASAP!   Follow the prompts to sign in to your account, print the packing paper, print the label and notify the buyer of shipment.  It is all very straightforward and after you’ve done it a couple of times – easy peasey!  Both venues give you several days to fulfill an order – but “quick shipping” in feedback is good!  If you cannot ship – like that book that just disappeared from the shelf! –  offer a full refund and an apology immediately.  I always look through the book before packing and if there is a defect that I missed when listing, I let the customer know and offer a partial refund or free shipping with just a click.  Put your listings on “vacation” when you are away.

Empty space and breathing room.  Not having to deal with things that no longer are useful to you.  Keeping things in circulation with happy new owners.  Supporting charity and providing jobs.   All good.  Bonus: Recouping at least some the cost of something you no longer need or want.   Other than textbooks, most of my books were purchased on sale or at discount and I have been able to sell many of them for almost same price I paid.  Win, win!   

I’m so glad you stopped by today!   Be sure to follow A Pinch of Joy so you don’t miss a thing!  I’d love to have your company on this venture!!

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  1. Great tips, it’s time to dig through the bookshelf at my house for sure.
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