The Best Way to Sell Books Online Is to Raise Prices!

By Joe Waynick
July 21, 2013

I'm frequently asked what is the best way to sell books on the Internet.

Well, today I sold a copy of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, ISBN 0873534808 in good condition for $5.00 plus $3.99 shipping for a total of $8.99. That's not a great price, but it sure beats a punch in the nose!

What makes this sale noteworthy is that at the time of the sale there were half a dozen copies available online in good condition for only 98¢ plus shipping -- fully $4.00 less than my price.

This seems to occur with surprising frequency, and it's another warning to new booksellers about the foolishness of under pricing your listings or participating in the dreaded "race to the bottom."

What Is The Race To The Bottom?

The race to the bottom is the practice of constantly undercutting your competition by a penny or two in hopes of capturing the next sale.

The problem starts when your competitors have the same idea. Consequently, the two of you continually undercut each other until the online price is eroded to the point of under profitability.

There's a fair amount of elasticity in online book prices. You don't need to be a bottom feeder to make good money.

This article explains why the race to the bottom is fruitless and unnecessary, and clearly illustrates why it's the wrong way to operate an Amazon book store.

Buyers make out like a bandit as foolish sellers battle over pennies. And it's the sellers who end up losing their shirt. Let me give you an example…

Sell Books At a Premimum

What motivates buyers to pay more for a book when less expensive alternatives are available?

If you refer to my book, Internet Bookselling Made Easy! you'll see that I have strong evidence to support my assertion that your seller feedback score and a detailed description of your listing play important roles in coaching buyers to decide to buy from you instead of your competitors.

My feedback score is 98% -- much better than most of my competitors. Plus I never fail to give an honest and detailed description of the books I sell, with all defects clearly disclosed.

Going the extra mile in this manner will put you head and shoulders above the sellers who are only in this business for a quick buck. Consequently, you'll be able to charge much higher Amazon prices than your less sophisticated competitors.

Reassuring Buyers

That kind of transparency gives buyers the confidence they need to order at a premium because they know exactly what they're getting, and that they're getting it from an honest and reliable seller who will handle the order properly.

So the moral of this lesson is this: "Don't think that you always have to be the low price leader!"

These days, I'm rarely the low price leader. In fact, I won't even match the lowest price unless it's over $8.00 or my price threshold for minimum profitability is down on page three of the catalog or higher.

In case of the latter, I'll match the lowest simply because I recognize that I made a buying mistake and I want to get it off of my shelf. BTW, my minimum price threshold is $6 after taking into account my full cost of doing business.

Take this lesson to heart my dear friends, and price competitively, but don't be a bargain basement seller.

Good hunting.

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