Selling Books on Amazon by Larry Scott - HTML preview

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collectible. Look inside to see if the book is a first edition (and first printing), or if there might be an author’s signature inside. As you become more familiar with books, you’ll start to occasionally see those rare ones that you want to pull out of your pile and take out of your general inventory (these become non-inventory items) so that you can sell them at auction.



Try to make your merchandise look as presentable as possible. Remember, you want to drive customers to your online store so that you get repeat business. The best way to do that is to make sure you have HAPPY customers.

Purchase a bottle of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) from your local drugstore.

Before sending any books out, make sure you lightly wipe down the covers of the books with it. It cleans a lot of crud off the covers and usually gives the book a little shine. Be careful though, you only want to clean off covers that are plastic coated.

You may have a mess or stain if you try to clean off a cloth or paper cover.

Page through the book and remove anything left inside (paper clips, bookmarkers, etc.). Straighten out any bent corners on inside pages – some people prefer to bend page corners as a bookmark rather than using a real bookmark.

If there are pencil marks, get a good quality eraser and remove them. A lot of times at estate sales, the sellers will mark the books using pencil inside the front cover.

Slowly remove any tags or stickers on the covers. Try to remove as much of these as you can by gently scraping with your fingernail. Then use the alcohol to clean the glue that is left behind.



Now it’s time to put your books online for sale. The SellerEngine software is pretty straightforward and easy to use. It makes putting books online at Amazon very easy.

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(1) SKU

The first thing to do is set your defaults for adding this new set of books.

SellerEngine automatically increments the inventory number so that each book has a unique ID. I add my location information so that the SKU number tells me where to find the book.

If you recall, the SKU layout I use is 000000-MMYY.00. The program

automatically generates the first set of numbers and I add everything behind it. First I put the month and year of my purchase, and then I put the number of the box.

(2) ISBN

Find the ISBN number on the book you are about to enter into the system. It’s usually on the back cover but sometimes you will find that it is only on the copyright page.

Now type in the ISBN number, without spaces and dashes.

(3) Condition & Description

Defining the condition of your book is critical. There are many disreputable booksellers out there that describe all of their books “Like New”. Don’t be like them, be honest with your descriptions and you’ll have a lot less headaches with returned merchandise and unhappy customers.

These are the current guidelines that Amazon publishes to help you determine condition:

New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unread copy in perfect condition.

Like New: An apparently unread copy in perfect condition. Dust cover is intact; pages are clean and are not marred by notes or folds of any kind.

Suitable for presenting as a gift.

Very Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition.

Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine

remains undamaged.

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Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and

highlighting, and the copy can include "From the library of" labels.

Acceptable: A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (the dust cover may be missing). Pages can include considerable notes--in

pen or highlighter--but the notes cannot obscure the text.

Unacceptable: Moldy, badly stained, or unclean copies are not acceptable, nor are copies with missing pages or obscured text. Books that are

distributed for promotional use only are prohibited. This includes advance

reading copies (ARCs) and uncorrected proof copies.

I discovered a technique that gives your book much more visibility on Amazon without being a nuisance. Many booksellers get upset when a rookie “floods” the listing page with many low-priced listings. What this does is to push other listings off the first page – to a place where customers usually don’t go to look for the book.

So, how do you use more real estate to push listings behind you, without flooding the listing page? Easy, you are more descriptive with each book.

Here’s how you can add descriptions without being a bad Amazon citizen:

Publisher: Random House, Incorporated

Date of Publication: 2001

Binding: Hard Back

Edition: Later Printing

Condition: As New/As New

Description: SKU 003124-1203.07 Nice copy, like new.

Make sure you choose the “collectible” rating if your book is a first edition or unique in any way. Don’t rate it collectible if it isn’t!

(4) Pricing

After adding the new information for a book, SellerEngine downloads vital information from Amazon. At the bottom of your SellerEngine screen you’ll see a list of competitors and what they are asking for comparable books.

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Don’t use a “cost plus” (cost of the book plus a percentage that you want as profit) type of pricing strategy. Instead, price your books by what the market dictates.

A lot of times you will see novices at work. They don’t seem to have any pricing strategy other than to be the absolute lowest priced seller. The condition of the book should drive where you are on the pricing scale. In theory, you should never see a

“Like New” book selling for less than an “Acceptable” book – but you see it all the time on Amazon! That’s the beauty of SellerEngine; it helps you avoid the trap of selling quality merchandise for less than the junk books that others are selling.

If you discover that comparable books are priced very high, stop and do a little extra research on that book. Why is it priced high? A quick check for rarity is to look and see how many of these ISBN numbers are listed on Amazon. SellerEngine shows you if there are less than 25 books available. Or maybe the book is collectible only as a First Edition, First Printing. Check your high-priced competitors and see what their description says. If it is truly a collectible, take a quick check on eBay’s advanced search engine to see what these books have been selling for. I’ve

discovered that many times these booksellers have absolutely no idea what the market value is so they price their books out of sight hoping someone will bite.

Don’t do it – if you want to make a living sell those books at whatever the current value at eBay is or else take it off SellerEngine and auction it yourself.

Amazon sets a

flag for the seller(s) with the lowest price for that book. Many

buyers tend to look only at that flag and buy it without checking to see why it is the lowest priced. Remember, books keep selling all the time so it’s okay if there are a couple of unrealistically low-priced books sitting in line to sell before yours. Your books will eventually be the lowest priced and will sell.

You’ll find that even though your books are priced higher than others, buyers may still purchase your books due to other reasons including:

• Buyers don’t trust unrealistically low prices

• Buyers see your feedback rating is higher

• Buyers are looking for a collectible book that you’re selling

• Buyers want to purchase from someone geographically close to them

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• You sell internationally


Weekly Price Check

Pricing is an art form and not a science! Try to review your inventory on a weekly basis to see if any changes are needed. There are many times where you will raise prices because you are now the lowest seller and the seller above you has raised their price. If you can raise your price, you make more profit without any added cost.


(1) Penny Sellers

Don’t get suckered into pricing your books too low just to sell them, you’re in business to make money and not to “stay busy” selling and packing books without making much profit.

This is where the infamous “penny sellers” come into play. These folks try and make a living by selling in huge volumes with unreasonably low profit margins. They literally price their books at 1 cent in the hopes of making their income off the shipping and handling.

If you buy a paperback book (because it’s light and costs less to ship) for 25 cents, sell the book for 1 cent, and pay about .35 for shipping materials, you can avoid paying Amazon commissions on the sale (Amazon still charges the buyer $3.99 for shipping and pays you $2.26 to ship it. Amazon makes a minimum of $1.73 per

book without making a commission or doing anything!) You get paid $2.26 for

shipping, deduct $1.40 for postage, the 25 cents you paid for the book and the 35

cents you paid for shipping supplies, and you are earning about 26 cents per book.

You need to sell a LOT of books to make any kind of living.

(2) Weekend Warriors

There are many part-timers who sell books online but can’t update their inventory until the weekend because their fulltime jobs take up all their time.

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I find that I need to review my inventory in the early part of the week because these people add inventory and make their pricing corrections during the weekend.

It seems that each time I go in and update my pricing I generate new sales.

(3) Wait For Lowest Priced To Sell If Too Low

Remember, you are selling books to a marching band – each time you look there will be new buyers in front of you. If you price your books fairly, the under-priced books will be quickly sold and the reasonably priced books will become the current lowest priced books. If you want to make this a long-term career, patience is definitely a virtue.

There will be times when you are just tired of having the same book around. If you look at the sales rank of the book, you may find it doesn’t sell very often. For those books you may want to sell at the lowest price just to clear up some shelf space.

(4) Get Book To First Page Of Listings

You want to make your books as visible to buyers as possible in order to sell them.

To do that, you should try and get your book to show up on the first page of the Amazon listing. I try not to discount my books too much. If there are 5 lowball priced books before mine, I’ll wait patiently for those folks to sell their books without a reasonable profit.

When reviewing each book, look at your price and condition and decide one of three things:

1. Do you want to stay in the selling position you’re currently in?

2. How much are you willing to pay to move up in the rankings?

3. How long are you willing to wait to make more profit?

As an example, if my book is the 4th in line to becoming the lowest priced book available, and it costs me 5 cents (I lower my price by 5 cents) to move ahead of everyone in the listings, then I’ll probably do that. I’ll almost always price my book

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1 cent below the price I want to be ahead of – after all, why give up profit when all you want to do is move up in the rankings?

If it costs me a dollar to move up, more than likely I will opt to wait for the cheaper copy to sell. If the seller who is located behind the seller that is behind me (2 back) is priced significantly higher, I will probably relinquish my space and move back to just below the higher priced seller so that I can make a lot more profit. I’d rather sell a few books with reasonable profit than a lot of books with very little profit.

Chapter 6 The Amazon Sale

his chapter shows how you receive orders on Amazon and how you fill the

order. Make sure you protect your seller rating – a rating that Amazon places T next to the book you’re selling that tells buyers how reputable you are. The procedures I describe below will help keep a 5 star rating.


Receive An Order

Amazon sends a series of emails to guide you through the sales process. The basic notifications are:

1. You have a potential buyer

2. The buyer made a purchase

3. The book has been removed from the Amazon database

4. They have sent your earnings

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(1) You Have an Amazon Marketplace Buyer

The first thing that happens to indicate you have an order is you receive an email from Amazon with a subject line that says, “You Have an Amazon Marketplace


You don’t do anything at this point because the funds have still not been approved and you don’t have any of the pertinent information to act on. It’s Amazons way of giving you a “heads up”.

NOTE: Amazon has recently changed this policy so that they send this email only if you sold something from your zShop, they no longer send this email for a standard Marketplace sale.

(2) Your Sale Remains Pending

There are times when a buyer places an order and then has their order placed on hold because their credit card information isn’t current so Amazon can’t complete the sale. The buyer may leave their computer for several days before checking back and seeing they need to update their information. At that time they may choose to cancel their order.

There are also times when people are trying to steal your books by using a stolen credit card. These orders never get processed.

When you get this message, you must take your book off the selling block for 3 full days before you can relist the item for sale again.

Here’s what one of those notices looks like:


We're writing to let you know that payment from the

buyer for the

following item(s) has been delayed:

Quantity Item 1 Snows of Kilimanjaro [DVD] (2001) King,

Henry; Peck, Gregory; Hayward, Susan..

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The buyer's credit card must be updated before the

transaction can be completed; we have already contacted

the buyer to resolve this matter.

We expect to receive payment shortly, and will contact

you as soon as that happens. Please continue to reserve

this item for the buyer, but DO NOT SHIP it until you

receive confirmation from that your payment

is secured.

If 72 hours pass from the time the purchase was made and

you have not been notified of payment, you are welcome

to consider the transaction void and resubmit your

listing. When necessary, relisting is done via your

Seller Account--once there, just click on "closed" items

under "Your Inventory," then click "Relist this item."

Your Seller Account is located here:


Because Marketplace fees are assessed only when payment

is secured, no closing costs have been charged for this

sale.Here are the details of your sale:

Order number: 058-3032306-6481142

Item name: Snows of Kilimanjaro [DVD] (2001) King,

Henry; Peck, Gregory; Hayward, Susan...

Listing ID: 0425H276675

Quantity: 1

Purchase price: $6.33


Thank you for selling with Our apologies for

any inconvenience caused by this delay--we hope it is

resolved quickly. Customer Service

(3) Sold -- ship now! SKU-000441-6.7 Black Beauty

The email you act on will have a subject line similar to this:

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Sold -- ship now! SKU-000441-6.7 Black Beauty (Illustrated Library for

Children) [Hardcover] by Sewell, Anna...

The email itself gives you a lot of information that is used to process the order.

Here’s an example of an order:


Your Amazon Marketplace sale is official! We've deposited

your earnings from the sale of this item into your Amazon

Payments account.

Please ship item immediately via media mail.

1 of Black Beauty (Illustrated Library for Children)

[Hardcover] by Sewell, Anna...

You have agreed to ship no later than two business days

after the buyer's purchase on 26-Jul-2003.


Important--Prepare Your Packages With Care. See our



Here is your buyer's shipping address (use your own

address as the return address, and enclose the packing

slip in this e-mail for your buyer's reference):

Shipping Label

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Buyer Name

Buyer address

City, ST ZIP

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


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Amazon Marketplace Item: Black Beauty (Illustrated

Library for Children) [Hardcover] by Sewell, Anna...

Listing ID: 0313H547090

SKU: SKU-000441-6.7

Quantity: 1

Purchased on: 26-Jul-2003

Shipped by:

Shipping address:

Ship to: Buyer Name

Address Line 1: Buyer Address

Address Line 2:

City: City

State/Province/Region: ST

Zip/Postal Code: Zip

Country: USA

Buyer Name: Buyer

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here are the details of your completed Amazon Marketplace


Order #: 058-8881045-3269169

Listings: 1

Total Item Count: 1

Listing 1: Black Beauty (Illustrated Library for

Children) [Hardcover] by Sewell, Anna...


Listing ID: 0313H547090

SKU: SKU-000441-6.7

Quantity: 1

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Buyer's Price: $16.98

Buyer e-mail:

Time of sale: 26-Jul-2003 14:52:47

Shipping method: media mail

Amazon commission: ($2.55)

Additional shipping credit: $2.26


Your earnings (in your Payments account): $16.69

You may view the details of your listing at zShops:

Note: is crediting you $2.26 in addition to

your net sales price to help cover shipping costs. This

amount is adequate to cover standard shipment of most

items (remember to send books, CDs, DVDs, and videos

"USPS Media Mail" to secure rates of 1.42 for one pound

items, 1.84 for two pound items, and 2.26 for three pound

items).You are required to ship this item even in cases

that the shipping credit does not fully cover your

shipping costs.Funds in your Payments account are

automatically transferred to your checking account every

14 days. To view your transaction status at any time,

search your Payments transactions:



If you haven't already provided us with your checking

account information, please do so at your earliest

convenience. Amazon Payments CANNOT DISBURSE funds to you

until you provide routing information for your checking

account. To do so, simply follow this link:


NOTE: Sellers agree to ship within two business days of

purchase. Failure to ship immediately is grounds for

negative seller feedback, revocation of shipping credits,

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and even suspension of a seller's account. In the rare

and unfortunate case that you cannot provide the item

that you have sold, you can issue a full refund by

completing the following steps:

1. Go to your Seller Account.

2. Click on the "Manage your Amazon Payments account"


3. Click on the "Search your Payments transactions" link

and sign in.

4. After signing in, set the parameters for your search

(15 days is the default search). Press the search button

to display your transactions.

5. From the resulting list, click on the transaction ID

that you would like to refund.

6. Click on the Refund Buyer link to issue the refund.

Congratulations on making this sale. We're delighted with

your success. Customer Service

NOTE: If you have questions about this order, reply to

this e-mail to get in touch directly with your buyer. For

more general questions, youmay find answers to those

questions here: NOTE: Consumer electronics, computers, kitchen items and

video games can only be shipped to destinations within

the United States. Other merchandise can be shipped only

to the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil,

Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong,

Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea,

Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South

Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom

(England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), and the

United States (including U.S. protectorates).

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(4) The sale of your item has ended.

The last email you get is when the book has been removed from the Amazon

database. This lets you know that the item is no longer for sale.

Here’s an example of that email:

Dear Seller,

Greetings from Your listing, Snows of

Kilimanjaro [DVD] (2001) King, Henry; Peck, Gregory;

Hayward, Susan..., has closed. You've received

notifications about purchases at the time they were made.

To view your listing, follow the link below:

Listing Details:


Item title: Snows of Kilimanjaro [DVD] (2001) King,

Henry; Peck, Gregory; Hayward, Susan...

Listing ID: 0425H276675 SKU: SKU-001180-0403.14

Price: $3.84

Quantity remaining: 0

Total quantity sold: 1

Listing closed on: 07/09/2003 12:21:14 PDT

Shipping terms: Buyer pays


If you have questions about listing an item, visit our

Seller's Guide at:

Thanks for visiting!

Earth's Biggest Selection

(This message was sent to you by an automated e-mail

system. Please don't

reply to it.)


Get The Book

Now that you have the order in hand, it’s time to fetch the book and clean it up.

Look at that subject line in the email again:

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Sold -- ship now! SKU-000441-6.7 Black Beauty (Illustrated Library for

Children) [Hardcover] by Sewell, Anna...

In this case I know that I have to find my crate labeled 6.7 (this is my old labeling system – once your books are in inventory it’s very hard to change over from one system to another). Inside of that crate is a hard covered book entitled Black Beauty.

The first thing to do is go back to the email notification and click on the link to that book listing located in the details of your completed Amazon Marketplace section.

This link opens your web browser and takes you to your book listing on Amazon.

This allows you to verify that the book in your hand matches the description you gave it online. There are times when you may have multiple books with the same title and different condition – so be sure that the book you have in your hand is the same one the customer bought!


Inspect The Book

This is a marketing game – we want our merchandise to be perceived as having a very high value for the amount paid for it.

Flip through the book’s pages and remove anything you might find inside –

paperclips, old newspaper clippings, bookmarks, etc. If you find pencil marks, erase them with a high quality eraser that doesn’t leave skid marks behind. If you find bent corners, straighten them out. If you find missing pages, you must notify the buyer and cancel the order.

Remove any price stickers by gently peeling them off the book. Sometimes you will need to soften them up by putting a little rubbing alcohol on them and then picking them off with your fingernails.

Clean plastic-coated dust jackets or covers with isopropyl alcohol that you can buy at your local pharmacy.

If the book is a hard cover with a dust jacket, and it sells for more than $10, I usually put a plastic dust jacket cover on it. These dust jacket covers cost me less than .20

cents per cover. It gives the book a “like new” appearance and helps secure those higher ratings and higher perceived value. Check my website for the cover I’m currently using. For cheap books, I just clean them up and sell them “as-is”.

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There are times when you get a book in your hands and something happens to it. I’ve had a paperback book, which looked new, literally split in two when I opened it up.

I’ve also had textbooks that were not the same edition as the Amazon listing. Then you must notify the buyer to make sure they know what edition they are about to purchase. If they are unaware of the different editions and want the most current one, graciously cancel their order and credit their account.

For those times when things go wrong and you don’t have a book to sell anymore, or you need to verify that a book is acceptable before you ship it (like an older textbook), you will need to contact the buyer. I’ve found at these times the buyer is very responsive if you are apologetic, but businesslike, for merchandise that is not up to your standards.

Here’s an example of an email I sent with a book that broke:


I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience but the book you

ordered, Bo Knows Bo, literally broke in two at the

picture section when I opened it up!

I've sent a refund request to Amazon in the amount of


Again, sorry for the inconvenience.


P.S. Here's a link to the Amazon page you ordered from.


Remember, the goal is to be cordial and professional so that you keep your seller ratings up and keep customers coming back.


Package The Book

I use different supplies to package books, depending mostly on how it is going to be shipped (media mail, first class mail, international mail, etc.). Whatever method you choose for packaging a book, always use clean packaging materials.

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