The one circumstance where a bookseller can make more money on eBay than Amazon.
Its inevitable if you do medium-to-high volume sales on Amazon: You’re going to end up throwing away a lot. Either you buy a lot of of 500 books on Craigslist and only 30 have FBA-value, you buy a pallet of books at a thrift store auction leaving you with hundreds of unwanted items, or someone holding a garage sale sells your their whole library for $100 and you only want 10% of it (all of these have happened to me in the last year).
Some would donate them to a thrift store. Some would just recycle them. Both are fine, but there is another option most booksellers overlook.
The one way to make money from books on eBay
Most booksellers believe you can’t make money selling used books on eBay. They’re mostly right, but they don’t know one way in which it is profitable. There is a circumstance in which selling books on eBay will get you more than if you tried to sell the same books on Amazon.
Here it is:
- You have a medium-to-large lot of books (20+)
- They are on the same subject, or in the same category.
When both of these apply, that’s a recipe for eBay profit. Here’s where I’m going with this….
Ebay users will bid on large book lots of a single subject
And they will often pay more than if you sold the books individually on Amazon. If you take the time to group the books by subject, and if you list them as a single lot, these are the advantages you will receive selling on eBay over Amazon:
- You will find buyers more quickly than on Amazon, and-
- These buyers will spend more than those on Amazon.
Essentially, the eBay buyers are paying you for grouping the books for them. They will bid on your lot of books on UFOs, and bid high, because you have taken the work to aggregate the books and put them together into one tidy auction, where all they have to do is click and in one to two weeks a giant box of books (on a subject they are passionate about) will arrive at their door.
They could comb through Amazon and purchase each of these books for $4 postage-paid, possibly less than they’re paying you, but its unlikely any of them have the time or interest to do this. You did the work, and you’re being rewarded by offering something Amazon can’t: A giant box of books on a subject they love.
What the eBay bidder doesn’t know or care about
Of course, they don’t care that this lot of 50 books on the JFK assassination are just your throwaways, each ranked worse than 2 million on Amazon and selling for a penny each (+postage). They’re not even thinking about that. They just want them all together in one tidy package, and they’re going to pay you for that.
How I organize my throwaways for eBay
First, if its a mainstream book that there are literally thousands of on Amazon and eBay, I get rid of it. Ebay book lots are for very niche or very specific subjects only.
From there, I look for patterns to emerge. Did the person I bought 500 books from on Craigslist have a lot of titles on boating? I start to put the boat books in their own box. Over the months, I start to see subject-specific lots form. And when I have enough titles, they go up on eBay.
I’ve done this many many times and am almost always glad I took the time. Just remember the crucial factors:
- Sell in lots (20+).
- Group by narrow subject matter.
That’s the secret to selling books on eBay.