Yes, it is possible to get more for a book on eBay than you can on Amazon. Here’s the trick.
Video: The trick to selling books on eBay (for more than you can on Amazon)
Is it better to sell books on eBay or Amazon?
Generally, you’re getting more for your books on Amazon than eBay. That’s just a fact.
There’s a couple of primary forces at work that let sellers command higher sales (and profits) on Amazon vs eBay. Among them:
#1: Amazon has the most customers. I’ve heard anecdotally from large sellers who list all their inventory on both Amazon and eBay that 90% of their sales come from Amazon. Whatever the number, no one disputes that Amazon has more customers than eBay.
#2: Amazon has the fewest sellers. Five times fewer (according to the top result for “”who has more sellers – Amazon or eBay?”) It’s harder to set up a seller account on Amazon, and easier to get banned. So there’s simply a lot more people selling everything on eBay.
Lower supply + higher demand = higher prices for sellers.
Is there ever a reason to sell a book on eBay vs Amazon?
There are a couple of good arguments for selling books on eBay – either in addition to Amazon, or (sometimes) instead of selling on Amazon.
#1: Lower fees. Ebay takes a lower cut of the sale than Amazon – especially if you’re selling with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
#2: To widen the pool of potential buyers. Another reason to sell on eBay (in addition to Amazon) is to increase the number of potential customers exposed to your listings. More of your sales will still come from Amazon, but the sales boost from eBay will not be insignificant.
Those are the two main reasons. But the trick I’m about to teach will provide you a third reason to sell on eBay – when the right circumstances exist (more on that in a second…)
What is NOT a reason to sell on eBay?
One argument you don’t hear in favor of eBay is that you can sell books on eBay for higher prices. It’s possible to get more for a book on eBay than Amazon, but its not the norm.
What I’m about to describe is a trick that allows you to do just that: Get more for a book on eBay than you can selling that same book on Amazon.
How? It’s called the “book bundling trick.” And it involves turning books that don’t have Amazon value into cash on eBay…
Why excess books are inevitable for booksellers
To understand how this works, you have to understand that one (or all) of these scenarios are inevitable for Amazon booksellers:
- Stranded / unfulfillable / unsellable inventory that gets returned to you from Amazon
- Accidental purchases (books that looked profitable when you bought them, but the story changes when you go to list them).
- Bulk purchases, where you’re discarding 99.5% of the books.
If you’re a small seller who is “single sourcing” (assessing the value of books individually, before buying), you’re going to be dealing with a lower amount of excess.
If you’re a seller doing bulk buying, the amount of excess books you deal with is going to be huge.
But all sellers deal with excess. And while there are many ways to turn that excess into cash, this one is my favorite…
The trick to get more for books on eBay than Amazon
The secret is to bundle your books by subject, genre, or author and list as a set.
eBay buyers will pay way more than Amazon buyers if you’ve gone to the work of grouping books by subject or author.
More detail in a minute, but the “book bundling trick” involves looking for patterns in subject matter or authors among your excess books, grouping them, and listing as sets (or “lots.”) This will allow you to get way more for your books on eBay than you otherwise could on Amazon.
Why will eBay buyers pay more for books grouped by subject?
Two reasons this trick works:
#1: The “curation premium”
Bundled books command a “curation premium.” (I’m not sure if I just invented a term here, but if it doesn’t exist, it should).
eBay customers are willing to pay more for books bundled by subject or author because you’ve done the hard work for them.
Imagine the effort required to assemble a set of books on snorkling in Hawaii. You’d have to flail around a bookstore or Amazon for hours to find even a handful of Hawaii snorkling books for a cheap price. (Ever notice how Amazon is increasingly burying older and cheaper books in the search results? Increasingly, older books are even “shadow banned,” and don’t show in search results at all.)
This would be a ridiculous amount of work. The time and labor you’re saving the eBay buyer is worth money.
And the buyers don’t need to care about every book in the lot. They don’t even need to ever have any intention of buying any of the books individually. They probably didn’t even know they wanted any of the books in your lot until they saw your listing.
There’s a huge difference between casually taking a chance and hitting a button to get a 20+ books on a subject (or by an author) they’re passionate about for an insane price, and deliberately hunting down 20 individual books. Totally different mindset.
They are paying extra for you to do the work of collecting the books and presenting them in a way and at a price they can’t resist.
#2: The math works out better for eBay buyers
You’re saving the eBay buyer a ton of money (while make more yourself).
Let’s say you list a bundle of 25 martial arts books. As a seller, you get $50 + shipping. Some eBay fees come out of that, but you’re still safely in the $1.50+ profit per book range.
Consider the math from the buyer’s perspective: S/he is getting 25 books for $2 each. These books would have cost at least $5 each on Amazon. And they’re on a subject they’re passionate about. With almost no effort required. You did all the work, and they reap the benefits.
Both the seller and the buyer come out ahead. Win-win.
How the eBay “book bundling” trick works
In three steps:
Step One: Start saving your books
Here’s what I want you to do: Save every excess book you have. It doesn’t matter if its the most worthless-looking romance novel you’ve ever seen. Save it.
For space reasons, this will be harder for larger bulk sellers than smaller sellers. But find a corner of a closet, your garage a tool shed, whatever – just start saving every book that has no value on Amazon.
Step Two: Start looking for subject or author patterns
As you gather “worthless” books, start looking for patterns in subject matter or authorship to emerge.
This will happen slowly for smaller sellers, and very quickly for larger ones. But wait until you have at least 10 copies of books on a very definable subject or a specific author.
20+ books is ideal, but a group of 10+ will work. There’s will be some dispute on the minimum amount for this to be effective. While you’ll see tons of “lots” on eBay with only two books, I don’t recommend this. I think you’re significantly reducing your profit (and increasing your work load) by listing books in such small quantities.
When reviewing your throwaway books, the question you’re asking is:
“Do I have at least 10 books on a specific subject or in a specific genre or by a specific author?”
You want to get as narrow as you possibly can. 20 mystery novels might work. 10 manuals on lock picking is 10x better.
How narrow can you get? The more niche the better.
There is a buyer for every micro niche subcategory. And the more niche, the more passionate the audience and the more money you’ll get for your eBay bundle. A collection of 25 books on 9-11 conspiracies will net you way more than a lot of 25 western romance novels.
Example: One time I bought out an entire library from a small church. Among a dozen other bundles, I was able to sell a set of Baptist cookbooks. What is baptist cuisine? I don’t know, but this set sold on eBay for way more than they would have on Amazon.
Recap so far:
- You need a set of books on a narrow subject or a single author.
- You need at least 10, ideally 20+ for best results. (list fewer at your own risk)
Step Three: List the sets for sale on eBay
List them as a “lot” on eBay.
This isn’t an “eBay 101” tutorial, but you know the deal: Clear photos showing the covers, subject matter clearly conveyed in the title, etc.
What are the advantages of bundling books for eBay?
This method gives you three advantages over selling on Amazon:
Advantage #1: Your books will sell faster on Ebay
Selling 20 books individually, that may or may not have strong demand on Amazon, could take months (or longer). You would need to make 20 individual sales on Amazon to get rid of those books on Amazon. On eBay, you only need to make one sale.
Advantage #2: You’ll get more profit per book on eBay
Why? 20 low-end books might net you 40 cents each on Amazon (or more likely, a negative number as an FBA seller). On eBay, there’s a good chance you’re netting $1.50+ per book. (And in some ways it’s an apples-oranges comparison, because you’re doing much less work to get the single eBay sale than you would to get the 20 Amazon sales.) eBay = less work, more money.
Advantage #3: Buyers on eBay don’t care about Amazon Sales Rank
When they’re buying your book collection, they are searching by keyword on eBay and getting a set based on the subject matter. The demand for the individual books is irrelevant, and has minimal impact on getting an eBay sale.
On Amazon, it’s a different story. Searching by subject on Amazon biases the search results to only the most high demand books. Buyers aren’t likely to ever see a book ranked 5 million unless they go many pages deep in the results.
On eBay, the demand for individual books is irrelevant.
The #1 mistake to avoid selling book lots on Ebay
If you group your books by too broad of a subject, expect your results to suffer.
Example: A set of 20 hardcover mystery novels may sell (or it may not). But you’re not going to get a good premium for a set like that. A mistake a lot of eBay sellers make is thinking they can cobble any books together on the broadest of subjects and still find a buyer. Its possible, but you won’t profit much.
I’m repeating myself, but you want to go as narrow and niche as possible.
This works for more than just books
Charging a “curation premium” on eBay works for anything – not just books.
Video games, DVDs, and just about anything with no value on Amazon can be bundled and sold for a profit on eBay.
And how you get more profit than if you sold those same books on Amazon.