Create a Listing

Amazon has a straighforward, easy to complete form to list a book for sale. (The process is similar for the other sales venues.) There are things to consider and choices to make in the process, so let’s use one example to illustrate some of those points. Once you’ve done a few, you can work quickly through a stack of books.

Proust’s English by Daniel Karlin ISBN 0-19-9256888 This copy is exlibrary, possibly unread.
On your seller page, under the inventory tab, click on ‘add a product’; enter the ISBN. When the title appears, click on ‘product details’. (Older books lacking ISBNs are searched by title and usually produce multiple listings. Amazon is improving its catalogue but there are still many duplications. Sometimes the title will be listed in different formats (e.g. ebook), or, very rarely, there will be no entry in the catalogue.)

The product details page gives us useful information, including the other formats for this title, its weight, its relative sales position among all Amazon sales, and the number of other sellers with copies. Click on ‘See all buying options’ button, if available, or the smaller link for used copies (then click on ‘all’ to see used and new copies). Scroll through the listings. Today Amazon is showing 24 copies between $33.99 and $999.99. This absurd price spread is sadly typical, produced by autopricing software. One seller offers two copies, a like new for $41.38 and a very good for $999.99!

We will ignore such nonsense and, using nothing more exotic that the human brain, come to a sensible – we hope saleable – price. The sales ranking for this book is low at 3,780,175, but acceptable for a scholarly work. Still, we can’t expect many shoppers and will want our copy to be attractively priced. There aren’t many reliable sellers for price comparisons for this title, so we might take a quick look at Bookfinder or Addall to find a few others. The reasonable working range for the book looks to be $30-50. Our copy is really very nice, but it is a library discard; that has to keep it at the lower end. The other consideration is competition from the paperback edition of the title. Checking those prices shows several very good copies for modest prices and that Amazon is selling it new for about $33. So now we balance the points – hardcover is nicer than softcover but an unmarked copy is better than exlibrary. Remember, there is no one ‘right’ price so there can’t be a wrong one. I would pick something between $25 and $30, low enough to be competitive but still a nice profit for the store.

Once you’ve settled on a price, you can return to the original results page and click the ‘sell yours’ button. Select condition. If you haven’t already, review the Amazon condition guidelines (link in the sidebar) and read the “Describe and Price” post (filed in the “Getting Started” and “Create a Listing” categories). A good rule of thumb for exlibrary copies is to evaluate the book’s condition as though it were a donation, then reduce by a category for the library markings. ‘Good’ and ‘acceptable’ cover 99% of discards. Some people maintain that an exlibrary must never be graded higher than good but I think an unread copy with no external markings can be called ‘very good’; certainly those are rare.

Having marked this copy as ‘good’, it’s time to write a description in the ‘Condition Note’ box. My goal is for there to be no surprises, at least no unhappy surprises, for the buyer. Riffle the pages, look at all sides/ends of the book, remove the jacket when possible. There are lots of ways to write a description and you will develop your own style and stock of useful phrases. I might describe this book as “exlibrary, usual markings else very good in protected dust jacket” or “exlibrary, usual markings; text clean and unmarked; slight wear; very good dust jacket in mylar cover”. Always state it when the book is a library discard, using whatever term you prefer – exlibrary, exlibris, library discard. We close the description with the information that we use tracking on every order and thank the customer for supporting our Library Foundation.

Enter the price you’ve chosen, then the quantity. Only the red starred boxes are required, ignore the rest. The last decision to make is for shipping method(s). You must offer standard shipping; that option is automatically checked. Expedited shipping is worth considering because many customers want or need the faster delivery – textbooks sell most often with expedited shipping – but weight is a critical issue. Please see the post “Shipping Tips” (filed in the Shipping category) for more about expedited shipping.

Finally, consider international shipping. Most sellers don’t bother offering it because the packages require special treatment. I enjoy connecting with book lovers around the world and offer it selectively. Please see the post “Shipping Tips” for more on this option.

You’ve reached the end. Review your entry and click ‘Save and finish’ to send your book into the online marketplace. Congratulations!

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