I Sell My Used Books
Using These Strategies

By Joe Waynick

I think I’m a pretty savvy Internet bookseller when I sell my used books, but this sale had me scratching my head . . .

Selling books on Amazon is always an adventure, but this was a particularly fascinating sale.

I listed a "good" used copy of a book in January 2010 for $14.

But somewhere along the line it got priced up to $44.74 (thank you repricer) where it sold this morning, April 5, 2011, even though there were four other copies priced as low as $15 in good condition. There was also a fifth seller offering a Very Good copy for $61.

I cover the topic of why the same book sells at higher prices than less expensive competitors in great depth in my book Internet Bookselling Made Easy! but here I want to step through the analysis.

Why Did My Book Sell???

I won’t disclose the name of the book because I’m going to critique my competition and when I write about how I sell my used books I don’t want to appear to be attacking them.

I carefully examined the listings of the other sellers where I sell my used books and learned the following:

  1. This is a scarce book. Only five other copies were listed.
  2. Only one seller had a feedback score better than mine, which is 98%. That lone seller was at 100% with over 1,500 feedback ratings reported. Great job! All the other sellers were rated lower, with the lowest at 95%.
  3. The seller with 100% feedback had an inferior copy. There was water damage disclosed in the listing. My book does not have water damage.

The 100% feedback seller has an excellent description. The other sellers have absolutely horrible descriptions. Here’s how they all appeared on Amazon:

  • Publisher: XXXXXXXXXX
    Date of Publication: 2005
    Binding: soft cover
    Condition: Good
    Description: 9999999999 Softcover with only slight wear, HOWEVER, the lower corners are slightly rippled and slightly darkened by water exposure, which just reaches the text, but does not obscure the text at all. 308 pages. Unmarked. [13oz] – 100% feedback seller, “Good” condition, $15
  • Eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping, 24/7 Customer Service, and package tracking. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Cover has some edge wear.” – 97% feedback seller, “Good” condition, $18.99 FBA sale
  • Good overall with moderate wear; No dust jacket;” – 96% feedback seller, “Good” condition, $15
  • Excellent customer service. Order inquiries handled promptly.” – 95% feedback seller, “Good” condition, $25.95
  • Huge seller with millions of transactions! Satisfaction Guaranteed.” – 95% feedback seller, “Very Good” condition, $61

My Conclusions

As stated in my book, excellent feedback ratings and outstanding book descriptions will often times outweigh price in the buying decision when I sell my used books.

The most likely reason my book sold was because the buyer was either looking for a gift or wanted a copy to add to a collection. Either way, the condition of the book seemed to trump almost all other considerations.

I say “almost” because there was a Very Good book offered for about $20 more. Apparently, there was an upper limit to this buyer’s budget, probably around $50. But the description was atrocious.

Only one seller had a description as detailed and accurate as mine. I honestly believe that seller would have gotten the sale had it not been for the water damage.

But since the condition seemed to be a major consideration, my copy got the nod. When I sell my used books I avoid listing water damaged copies, as any good book scout should.

That point is worth repeating. When you're out finding products to sell online don't waste your time with books that are in poor condition.

When a discerning buyer wants cheap used books online for a specific reason, that buyer will tend to choose a seller who appears to be the most professional, and who gives the most detailed and accurate listing descriptions.

High feedback ratings and detailed descriptions inspire confidence in buyers. A mail order bookseller that operates using the best practices outlined in my book gives a professional appearance to buyers and enjoys a competitive edge.

* * * * *

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