Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How To List Your Books On eBay & Increasing Odds Of Selling Them

When I first started selling online I used to hang out in an AOL chatroom dedicated to eBay. Mostly eBay sellers frequented the chatroom and the regulars were very friendly and helpful. I actually learned a lot from those AOL eBay addicts (I believe that was actually the name of the chatroom too). One in particular though did so well selling books on eBay and I could not understand why the books I listed didn't sell even when I dropped the price to only 99 cents. To this day the things the book man taught me I still put into practice when listing books, and actually he is in the back of my mind with anything I list for sale.... description.... description and of course PICTURES!!!
I know a lot of people figure that if someone is looking for a book they will type in the title, find one in good shape for a good price and buy it. The seller is assuming that the person is 100% sure always exactly which book they want and will know by the look of the cover and that title. So many times sellers just pop up one photo of the cover of a book and simply put in the most minimal basic title and author info and thats all. Many times they are counting on eBays pre-filled info if they were lucky enough to find the exact book they are selling. The pre-filled info however is not always all there.
Next time you list a book for sale imagine being in a book store shopping for a book. Imagine you are interested in redecorating your home & organizing. You go find the home & garden or Do It Yourself section of the store and what do you do next? You scan the titles and see one you like, and next YOU PICK UP THE BOOK. Do you right away put it in your basket just by seeing the cover, title and author? No way, there is no way you are going to do that. Even if you were looking for a specific title you will still always look at the back, read at least some of the back or inside front cover, you will flip through a few pages and so on. Then only after checking it out you will make the final decision on whether you want to make this purchase. Think of eBay the same way. I mean you wouldn't ever just throw that book into your basket without looking it over and making sure it is what you want, and a customer will not put one missing the info in their virtual basket either.
There are some out there that do not bother to put anything in the description section at all. If your lucky they usually will at least say something brief about the condition of the book but show you nothing more than the cover. Condition is something that opinions can vary, and can vary widely. This is where even with books multiple photograps - the cover, the back, inside cover front & back, Title page, and even some photos of a few pages from the inside of book.
Okay, so now after all that I am sure you see my point here. The lessons I learned from the book man actually made the difference of whether I would sell a book for 99 cents or that same book for $25.00 or $50.00. This is the basic breakdown of what I learned and have used most of the time (even I get lazy sometimes but I pay for it in lack of bids when I do).

The Steps To Listing Your Books & Getting Highest Price For Them

1. Hunt down some good books at Yard sales, Library sales, thrift stores, etc. Some good ones off the top of my head I would suggest to look for are books on Wars (especially with photos), Real estate how to books from 80's or before (I sold one from the 80's for 499.00 on Amazon once), Vintage Cook Books usually do pretty good too and some of the older Betty Crocker first editions I have sold for $50.00 and up. Do some research in closed auctions to get an idea of books to look for. Books are aplenty out there and usually just a couple bucks or less.
2. Take photos of the books. Each book you should photograph the cover, the back, the spine, inside front cover, title page, inside back cover (only if there are marks or something there to show), and ALWAYS photograph at least a few pages from inside the book if it is illustrated, if not then one page will be fine.
3. Use eBays pre-filled information if it is available. Some books have the pre-filled info filled in very nicely with all the info about the book someone could want. In these cases just make sure your book is exactly the same one as the pre-filled info. If there is no pre-filled info or if it is seriously lacking then the next step is to let the buyer know the subject, characters if possible, copy the description from the back cover (or inside dust cover flap), if you have read the book even including your own opinion is not a bad idea at all (as long as you liked it). If you are listing a cook book LIST THE RECIPES. Sometimes if I am being lazy I will list the table of contents or chapters and some of the recipes. Always however put a recipe count, how many are there total? Number of pages is also something people like to know with any book. Basically DESCRIBE fully in detail.
4. Now only thing left is to describe the condition. Don't just use one word conditions like its "great" or "readable" or "okay". If you say it is in "Great" condition make a note of why.... "Great condition no highlighting or writing in book, no dog earred pages, binding is super tight only minimal normal wear from average or light use". If there is something above present be sure to let the buyer know, even if it is just a previous owners name inside front cover, let them know about it. Normally they will not care about these little things, but buyers don't like surprises so keep them informed of even the little things is how I feel about it.
5. All that is left to do is make sure that auction title includes the title of the book the author publication date etc. Use all space available for key words about your book. If you find you are short on space you can always use only the authors last name or sometimes I will leave out the little "a" or "the" or "of" type words in a title if I have to in order to fit all the much needed key words in title that are more commonly searched for than the word "of" etc. Make sure you have it listed in the right category - books: Non Fiction, Fiction, Childrens etc.
Yep I learned all that in an aol eBay Addicts chat room way back in 1997 & 1998. The book seller I met back then showed me how important it is to give buyers as much information as possible to help them to want to purchase your item. It carried over into other items as well not just books. I try to always follow what he taught me back then. Now it is just kind of second nature. Also most sellers know all about key words, and describing fully etc. However for some reason when it comes to books sometimes sellers just drop the ball due to not wanting to put that kind of time into listing just one book. However many books can sell for very high amounts...... if described correctly.

Little Things I Forgot To Mention Above

*NOTE: Another thing that can make a big difference as well is what edition is the book? Make sure to let the buyer know if it states "First Edition".

*NOTE: I also find that usually I prefer doing books with a Buy It Now Price or in a Fixed Price Listing with Best Offer. Most books do not get multiple bids from what I have seen. Always do your research to be sure.
*NOTE: Also when selling books that you have gotten from yard sales, thrift stores etc. let the buyer know that you were not the original owner this way they will know that you do not know for sure if they have always been in a completely smoke & pet free home. ALWAYS if it smells weird or bad to you though do not list it like that. IF you can remove the smell - for good & completely - then do that before listing. If you cannot remove it then don't list it OR if it is a really great book and you want to take a spin with it anyway BE SURE to mention if it has a musty smell or anything out of ordinary.
*NOTE: I will be writing other blog posts with larger lists of books to watch for, and will be posting about how to sell books on Amazon in the future as well.  
I hope this helps in getting your books sold..... Best of luck and wishing you many sold books in 2013 and for years to come.......


  1. This is really a very good article about listing and selling books online.
    Thanks I put a link to it on my blog.

    1. Thank you very much. I am happy you enjoyed. I have been slacking lately on writing but plan to get back into action starting tonight.