Why sell on the Internet?

BFL_stacks_of_books

To make more money for your library, of course.  And it’s fun!

Selling books and other media online is a wonderful opportunity for libraries and their supporters.  The established sites (Amazon, Ebay, et.  al.) do the hard work of retailing – the marketing, the financial transaction, much of the record keeping – making it possible for us to sell many more books at much better prices than in traditional local sales.  You suddenly have millions of potential customers instead of hundreds.

Online sales won’t replace the traditional library sale or shop.  The volume of material is generally too great to be sold individually and not every book is a suitable candidate for special treatment.  Sales where lots of books are available at bargain prices will always be popular with the public and necessary to dispose of the accumulated stock.  But an online store  can be a substantial supplement to those  fundraising events.  (There’s a reason all those customers are showing up with bar code scanners!)

There are companies which will sell books for you, but you’ll receive only a small percentage of the value.  If you do the work yourself, all the profit is yours.

I began selling online in 2001 and have seen sales and revenue increase every year.  We’ve aggressively built our online inventory in recent years with the result that our annual earnings from approximately 5000 internet sales now almost equals the amount earned through the sale of about 250,000 items in our regular public sales.

 

4 thoughts on “Why sell on the Internet?

  1. Sue Driver

    I occasionally sell books & CDs online for our local Friends organization. However, I’m wondering what to do about taxes? What does your organization do?

    Thanks,
    Sue

    Reply
    1. Miriam Geib Post author

      Hi Sue,
      You’ll need to check the laws for your own state to be sure, but it’s common for retailers to be required to pay on every sale to a customer within the state. We pay the state of Indiana every month for that month’s sales to all customers with an Indiana address. The State recently struck a deal with Amazon requiring it to collect sales tax on sales within the state, so our accounting has become simpler.
      Miriam

  2. Sue Driver

    Hi Miriam,

    Thank you for your reply. When you say that your state struck a deal with Amazon requiring it to collect sales tax on sales within the state, does that mean that Amazon automatically deducts the tax from the sale or is that something we need to do? Since our Friends group is a nonprofit organization, do you know if we are still required to collect taxes?

    Thanks,
    Sue

    Reply
    1. Miriam Geib Post author

      Hi Sue,
      Amazon has made agreements to collect sales tax with a good number of states now. It collects the tax from the customer at the time of sale and sends it to the state, so the seller isn’t responsible for it anymore. If you’re in Indiana or one of the other states with this agreement, your group doesn’t need to worry about sales tax for Amazon sales. This only applies to Amazon sales, though, not Ebay or any of the other internet sales venues. I urge you to check your state’s regulations for nonprofits and taxes; you can probably find what you need on the state’s web page. Indiana has (or had, I haven’t looked at the regs recently) a limited exemption of 30 days sales without tax liability. That’s good for the once a year public sale but it doesn’t work for online sales. I would be very surprised if any state completely exempted nonprofits from collecting sales tax; they’re all too desperate for revenue these days.
      Miriam

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