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Selling books through amazon-Best way to maximize profits?

noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
edited June 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Due to an excess of books/comic trade paperbacks, I created an amazon seller account and started listing them off. Just did it yesterday and so far they been selling at a pretty steady rate.

What I want to know, is what's the best method(i.e cheapest) way to ship them? A friend of mine said he recently went through amazon and it wasn't really worth it, as adding the fee Amazon takes up, plus the shipping and envelopes, he was making about 2 dollars for every 5.

But then I see people selling books for a penny and wonder how they manage to make a profit, considering that Amazon immediately takes out .99 cents, leaving you with at best 3.00 to cover shipping costs.

I'm in the U.S in case that factors in.

noir_blood on
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Posts

  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    noir_blood wrote: »
    Due to an excess of books/comic trade paperbacks, I created an amazon seller account and started listing them off. Just did it yesterday and so far they been selling at a pretty steady rate.

    What I want to know, is what's the best method(i.e cheapest) way to ship them? A friend of mine said he recently went through amazon and it wasn't really worth it, as adding the fee Amazon takes up, plus the shipping and envelopes, he was making about 2 dollars for every 5.

    But then I see people selling books for a penny and wonder how they manage to make a profit, considering that Amazon immediately takes out .99 cents, leaving you with at best 3.00 to cover shipping costs.

    I'm in the U.S in case that factors in.

    Shouldn't cost that much to ship. First-class parcel+delivery confirmation through Paypal is going to be rather cheap. Envelopes can be bought from ebay in 100+ packs for cheap. I'm thinking less than $2 to ship, including the envelope.

    EDIT: Books are heavier than they look. I just grabbed a paperback, and I could ship it first-class for 2.76+envelope cost. This is above the point where media-mail is cheaper, though, and media mail would be $2.56. You can save a few cents by skipping delivery confirmaion. They're not making much money off the penny books, but they can make money.

  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited May 2009
    I'm 90% positive you can't use Paypal with amazon. Everything I have shipped has been through USPS standard-as-cheap-as-i-can-get with delivery confirmation. The downside is that you're going to get dicked by either amazon's cut/shipping reimbursement if its a heavy item, or you're going to have an item with hundreds of listings at sub-$1. Those are usually from resellers who are just trying to clear out inventory and probably have deals with whoever they ship with due to being a mass seller, or the poor college student/joe like yourself who's getting dicked by them driving the price down.

    I've been selling for about 4 months now (not just books) and have made close to 500$, so taking the hit here and there on shipping is fine for me. Selling a dvd or a light book usually only costs about 2$ to ship, which nets you positive off of Amazon's reimbursement but still slightly negative after their cut. To help save costs I bought mailing envelopes in bulk and try and get my family members to save any boxes they get from packages so I can just reuse them.

    I also have all of my items cross listed on half.com so you might want to consider that if you can get more for the item, but that will vary depending on the book.

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I sell several books/games on Amazon now and again, but I always hike the price up a bit. Since it's free if it doesn't sell, I don't mind if it sits there for a long time.

    As has been said, Amazon Marketplace is expensive once the item actually sells. The shipping credit is a joke, especially up here in Canada. They give like 5.99 to ship a game while it costs around 10-12 if you pack it in a padded envelope and want a tracking number. Don't even get me started when I was considering selling larger items.. the shipping credit is the same.

    The fees are also fairly hefty, considering.

    I'm not really sure how sellers make a profit when they list stuff for a penny, but I'm fairly certain they would have hookups to make shipping dirt cheap.

    daniant wrote:
    Alright, looks like I'm giving up golden showers for Lent.
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  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited May 2009
    For me the most important thing has been reminding myself that these books/items are sitting in my closet or on my bookshelf collecting dust. I haven't read them or used them in a long time (many of them haven't been touched at all in the years since I've graduated if not longer) so they've served their purpose and any money I eventually get off of them is considered positive given standard degradation, even if Amazon ends up taking a cut.

    I also have all of the money put in a different bank account that is just strictly for the shit I sell, so it doesn't calculate into my regular monthly expenses and will be a nice little rainy day fund if I ever need to use it. Half of it is also rolling through a 6 month CD, which I'm sure Thanatos (as well as my coworkers) will yell at me for, but there's not enough in the account yet to actually put to work on investing.

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I agree totally, but when I work out that I'll end up with $5 after shipping/fees for a book I paid $60 for a few years ago, I would sooner just keep the book just in case I wanna use it as kindling at some point.

    daniant wrote:
    Alright, looks like I'm giving up golden showers for Lent.
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment · Website : www.nathanswyers.com
  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited May 2009
    That's why half.com might end up being better for larger texbooks as their shipping rape isn't as bad (but it's not as well known). You also need to take into consideration that books sell the most in August/September and January/February to coincide with school schedules :P


    But trade paperbacks is a completely different beast, I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has experience with that since I have some of my own that I haven't put up there yet.

  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited May 2009
    I also forgot to mention, if your books don't have an "expiration" date on them (i.e. a book on say, Adobe Flash CS2 which is now outdated) there is absolutely no reason to get into a price war with someone unless you need to get rid of the item ASAP, which it doesn't sound like you do.

  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    That's a good point. My gut instinct is to check my inventory, and if someone now has a lower book for a penny, I'll lower mine for a penny as well. But at the end of the day, since it's free, I guess there's no harm in leaving my prices relatively free. I'm really in no rush.

    Spoiler:
  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    robothero wrote: »
    I'm 90% positive you can't use Paypal with amazon.

    You can, but you need to create the label manually.

  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I use www.half.com for my book trading. Seriously I just put them up there (no listing fees) and they sell eventually. Most books can go out at ~$5 (I get a deal through FedEX where I get overnight for about $3) through USPS.

    Games completed recently: The Witcher, Resident Evil 4: HD Edition, Typing of the Dead: Overkill, Sleeping Dogs, Dishonored.
  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    You can send books by Media Mail (prices) in the U.S., which is cheap but slow.

    Spoiler:
  • SlicerSlicer Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    You can send books by Media Mail (prices) in the U.S., which is cheap but slow.

    Yeah, this is what I use. The shipping fee you get, even after Amazon's cut, should usually be enough to cover it.

    Unless you're selling a gargantuan textbook or something.

  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited May 2009
    Depending on the item, regular priority mail could end up being cheaper. The last couple DVDs I sent out were only 1.80 a piece.

  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    robothero wrote: »
    Depending on the item, regular priority mail could end up being cheaper. The last couple DVDs I sent out were only 1.80 a piece.

    The tipping point is 8oz. At 8oz and above, media mail is cheaper. 7oz and below, 1st class is cheaper.

  • ZyreZyre Registered User
    edited May 2009
    But then I see people selling books for a penny and wonder how they manage to make a profit, considering that Amazon immediately takes out .99 cents, leaving you with at best 3.00 to cover shipping costs.

    The books you see selling for a penny on Amazon are probably from my brother's company, Thriftbooks. He run's an entire business with five warehouses across the US selling nothing but used books on Amazon. I'm pretty sure the profit gained with the penny books is on the shipping cost - the book sells for 0.01, the shipping costs the buyer like $3 depending on the weight of typical mass market paperback book, amazon takes their cut (0.99 in this example), take out the actual shipping cost of the book ($1.50 or something) and the company gains a small profit of $0.51 cents. Now, you won't earn a whole lot of money selling a couple books like this, but when your selling thousands of books a day every day (also selling more than just penny books) it adds up.

  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited May 2009
    Well that just confirms my suspicions about the damn warehouses /shakes fist

  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Thanks for all the info guy, some of my stuff has already sold, and here's the breakdown so far;

    Total sold-196.00
    Amazon's cut-78.39
    Shipping costs-50.00

    So my profit is around 70 dollars or so. Most of the books I have sold were only for a few dollars. I ended up taking out anything that was price for 2.00 or less, as I ended up figuring out that I would be making about .50 cents on those.

    Definitely trying half.com now.

    Spoiler:
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Amazon takes close to half off? Crazy.

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Kyougu wrote: »
    Amazon takes close to half off? Crazy.

    They don't, but he was selling books for a dollar or two, and I believe Amazon's cut has a "minimum" point. So, if you sell a book for a buck, they don't take their usual 15% or whatever, they take more.

    daniant wrote:
    Alright, looks like I'm giving up golden showers for Lent.
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment · Website : www.nathanswyers.com
  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    If you're looking to maximize profit, always ship parcel post or media mail. Always. That's pretty much what it comes down to. When I've gotten cheap books, they come in the crappiest box (usually more like a cardboard "sleeve") and take over a week -- which doesn't bug me because it was cheap. I paid for the cheapo shipping.

    When someone buys a textbook from me and they pay expedited, I ship Priority. otherwise, everything is media mail.

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