Not long ago, I found myself with an excess of books and a shortage of money. While this wasn’t an unusual state for me, I was preparing to move into a much smaller house, and those books were not going to fit.
My father, who at 80 is a veteran eBay seller, recommended Amazon Marketplace. If you’re selling the right kind of books, it’s one of the easiest outlets. You enter the ISBN number, and the photo and description of the book appear. You fill in the condition and your asking price.
If your book sells, Amazon sends you a message, and you must mail the book within two business days. Amazon automatically charges $3.99 for shipping for each book, which in most cases covers the actual postage plus padded envelopes, labels and tape. Amazon charges you 99 cents per book sold, plus 15 percent and sometimes other fees, and deposits your profit in your bank account.
You can sell DVDs, cassette tapes, CDs and other items the Amazon database the same way. Here are a few tips:
- Don’t bother to list books others are selling for a penny. Decide ahead of time what your bottom-line price is — the amount you’d have to earn to cover the time it takes you to pack and mail the book.
- Send your items, in padded envelopes, via “Media Mail,” a postal classification for printed matter, DVDs, cassette tapes, newspapers and magazines. It’s much cheaper than first class except for the lightest items.
- If you’re mailing only one book at a time and have a postal scale, print out the postage at home using Amazon’s service. You can then give the book to your mail carrier and avoid a trip to the post office.
- In general, nonfiction sells better than fiction, and less common books do better than bestsellers.
I sold what looked like a deadly dull real estate book for $212. Apparently it’s out of print but still in demand. A motivational cassette tape by someone I had never heard of sold for $109. Most of mystery fiction was worthless.