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  • apprentice tycoon
    • #1
    • 18th Jul 05, 10:58 AM
    selling books on Amazon - tips for more profit
    • #1
    • 18th Jul 05, 10:58 AM
    Just a few things I've learned about selling books on Amazon.co.uk.

    I started by selling all our unwanted books, then the bug had set in and now I buy books in to sell, I get them from boot sales, charity shops and in bulk at auctions. It's not only just books that Amazon sell second hand, you can sell DVDs, PC games, CDs and even household items and electrical goods. Here I have described selling books but the same information pretty much applies for CDs etc

    get started

    If you don't have a sellers account you will be asked to fill in your bank details etc and there are a few security things that they go through but nothing too arduous.

    The way to list a book for sale is to click the BOOK tab and from there go to ADVANCED SEARCH, key in the ISBN number and it will take you to the page where all the other identical books are, go to SELL YOURS HERE and fill in the details.

    You have to choose a description of the book's condition -like new -very good etc and then you have a space for a few more descriptive words. I always put in 'smoke free home' (if it is!) and 'same day dispatch' because these make a book stand out from the rest. There are a number of sellers from the USA with books listed on the UK site so you might want to add 'UK seller' to the description - and anything else that is truthful that you can think of to make your book sound a better deal than the others, there is lots of space so you can get creative with your description.

    When you list a book for sale there is no photo needed or fee charged, it's only when you sell the book that you have to pay (out of your takings) so you can have a book listed for months for free.

    Also when you list the book you will see the price that others are charging for the same book, you might want to get yours sold quickly and undercut them or you could decide to stick it out for a better price, check them all out and see what you think is a realistic price for that particular book, you will see some extremly low ones and ridiculously high ones.

    The condition of the book is important to get the best price so watch out for creases and bends etc also gift inscriptions, you will have to mention them all in fairness to the buyer and you don't want any awkward emails later or poor feedback in your ratings. This may make your book less attractive than the others but if it's a sought-after book it may sell even if it looks a bit tatty so it's worth listing it to try it out

    If the book doesn't turn up using the SEARCH it may be by a different publisher or be from a book club, you can still list it but you must state why yours is different to the others in the description but it may not sell for the same price as the others.

    The buyer is only charged 1.24 for the p&p on a DVD so you may want to mention this in the description as a selling point because the buyer may assume that it's much more. I think that it could be used as a selling point with big heavy books as well, again the buyer may be unaware that the p&p is only 2.75, so let's tell him!

    selling fees and postage allowance

    There are fees when you sell the book, these are made up of a fixed amount of 86 pence plus a percentage of it's sale price. You get to see what these are when you list the book, it shows you what the charges will be, and what you'll be paid so you can see if this is acceptable to you before you commit yourself to selling it, having said that you can withdraw it at any time. Amazon gives you 2.32 to go towards the postage of the book and if it's a light paperback there will be a little money for yourself left over on just the postage allowance alone, this is how you can sell a book for as little as 1 penny and still have a small profit.

    The opposite is true with heavy books - the postage allowance of 2.32 will be paid regardless of the book's size so it may cost you over 4.00 to post it, if you can get a really good price for the book then this will balance out but check your weight carefully, if it is over 1 kilo have a look at the Standard Parcel chart on the Royal Mail websire (address below) this will be cheaper but it's a day or so slower than 1st or 2nd class.

    postage costs

    The critical thing to bear in mind when you look at these figures is how much the postage will cost, this could mean your profit will get severely dented if you get it wrong.

    When you list the book check the weight on kitchen scales, add a little on for a padded envelope then look at the Royal Mail website www.royalmail.com to see how much it will cost to post, second class is OK if you send it the day that it sells, if it goes the next day then it will have to be first class. You will need to get a Certificate of Posting from the PO just in case it gets lost and you need to claim.

    If you are lucky enough to sell a book with a value of over 30.00 you will need to send it by Special Delivery so that the full value is covered if it goes astray, you will need to built the extra cost of this into the price of your book, it will be at your expense not Amazon's.

    tax - are you now a trader?

    On the subject of buying books etc to sell for profit you need to bear in mind that, like with ebay you are straying into the world of trading and you may find yourself in a taxable situation so take advice from your local tax office and be sure to keep all your reciepts from the books, packing materials and the post office.

    where is your information stored?

    All your 'open' and 'closed' listings are to be found on the 'seller account' page. From this page you can look at 'recent transactions' and 'account summary' this is your imformation hub, all your coming and goings are here.

    You can close the sale whenever you want if you change your mind and also you can edit it later to change the price and details if you like, you will find that other sellers will be undercutting your prices so you could decide to reduce and undercut them or sit tight and let their book sell first giving yours a clear run.

    after a book sells

    When your book sells you will get an email with a packing slip and address to print out and the money will be paid to your bank account at 2 weekly
    intervals.

    On occasion you may get an email telling you that the sale is pending - this is usually because there is a problem with the buyers credit card. You are advised to wait 72 hours, if they haven't sorted the snag out by then you are free to re-list the book. A few sellers contact the buyer (you will see their email address on your transactions page) and ask if they are likely to be able to resolve the problem, if not the book can be up for sale again before the 72 hours are up.

    wrapping your book to post

    You will need some light padded envelopes for postage, get them anywhere but the post office, they are so expensive there, you will see some on ebay or if you need loads then viking direct is the place to look, they have nectar points too if you register your card with them. Other suggestions for book wrapping have featured in this thread, they are all great so I'm putting them into this post to save you having to look through all the posts.

    The cheapest wrappings are the free pieces of bubblewrap or foam that supermarkets use to cushion fruit and veg, the book gets wrapped in this then put into a sturdy envelope. The foam underlay for wood laminate floors will work in the same way. Pound shops are a good place to look for bubble envelopes, you may be able to get an assortment of sizes for very little cost. Thick sturdy plastic has been suggested as a covering for the bubblewrapped book too, this is very good if the book is larger than a normal A4 envelope.

    If your book doesn't sell after 60 days the listing will close and you will get an email to tell you of this, it's easy to relist, you just click on your list of closed listing on your Seller Account page, they will all be there, you can edit them if you want and click to relist. If you don't do this within around 2 or 3 weeks the listing will be lost and you have to start from scratch.

    sell overseas?

    You can choose to sell your book to overseas buyers - you can select this option when you list you book but you need to be really sure of your postage costs because even though you are given an extra allowance you can go seriously astray with your profit if you get this wrong.

    If the the parcel is worth over 30.00 in value it won't be covered if it gets damaged or lost when it is sent by normal Royal Mail air or surface mail. You can send it by either Airsure or International Signed For (depends on the destination which is used) - these are both Royal Mail services and you can read the details on the website. For example a parcel to the USA can be covered to 500.00 for the normal cost of the airmail + 4.30 so you will need to add in that extra 4.30 to your figures.

    if you're a real pro

    If you find yourself selling quite a number of books per month you may want to consider taking out Pro Merchant subscription, this means that the 86 pence standard fee is waived and you never have to relist a book again - well not for 3 years at any rate, the monthly fee is 28.75 so if you can sell over 33 books you're up on the deal. You can cancel at anytime and only be billed for that current month.

    what sells best?

    I have kept my very best tip to the end - the books that I've found to be the best sellers are paperback self-help books on any kind of off the wall subject you can think of like angels, reincarnation, astral travel, psychic stuff, stopping smoking etc. These are harder to buy from High Street shops like WHS so they sell well second hand. I bought a book last Wednesday on time managment for 49 pence at a charity shop. I listed it as soon as I got home, the lowest price of the others that were for sale was 7.20 so I undercut for 6.90 and sold it within 2 hours. After postage costs there was a profit of over 4.00...

    charity shops

    A few sellers have been a bit reticent about buying from charity shops to make a profit, I don't have a problem with this, the shops need the cash in the till, not unsold books on the shelves and from my own experience the books that sell well on Amazon are the ones that won't sell in a little charity shop...example...I bought a book on the practice of anaesthesia, a medical student that needs this book is not going to even consider looking around the local charity shops for such a specialist book, they will just go straight to amazon for it. I'm sure the staff at the charity shops assume that a book like that will never sell so they are delighted when they do. Even if you are buying mainstream books you are still putting money in the till and you might buy something else as well while you are there. Win win I call it, everyone gains.

    and to finish

    Good luck with your selling, don't be disheartened if you go for days without a sale, just when you feel that it's all gone pear shaped you will get a small flurry again to keep you going.
    Please join in the discussion thread, it's all about sharing ideas and experiences, everyone is welcome.
    Last edited by apprentice tycoon; 16-12-2005 at 12:55 PM.
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