Making Bezos Work For Me
July 5, 2021 2:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting ready to move and I have a lot of books I need to purge. I've been looking into selling some of them on Amazon. If you've done that, tell me what that's like?

I've been trying to Google advice for people who want to sell books on Amazon, but all the advice i see is geared towards people who want to make this kind of bookselling into an ongoing side hustle, as opposed to a one-and-done "I need to clear out space" kind of thing. I'm not even in it for the money really - I've just realized I have some actually-quite-valuable-to-someone-else books that hell, if I sell them it'll be gravy - the complete set of a graphic novel series an old roommate left behind when they moved, some random photo books that "hey wait, this is autographed", that kind of thing.

I'm looking for advice on selling on Amazon in general, and then on a specific angle:

1. Aside from the obvious "lowballing the price", what are some good tips to get this stuff gone as quickly as possible? I'd be bringing any books I'm selling to work and leaving them there (possibly), so I don't have to schlep them to my new place.

2. One thing that I do know I'd have to consider would be whether I want to sell the books so that they are "fulfilled by Amazon" or "fulfilled by me"; which mainly refers to who does the legwork of packing and shipping. I can send the lot to Amazon and have them sell them (and warehouse whatever does sell as long as it's waiting), but I've also read that the fees are higher - but the sales might go through faster, since I could use prime shipping. That would get them out of my life sooner, but I'm just concerned that if something is hanging around in the warehouse for too long, I'd end up owing Amazon money; would they do that?

Anything else I may need to know? Again, I'm NOT in this for the money, only the speed at which this stuff might leave my house. Ordinarily I'd offer these books up on a free book swap service, but whenever I do that things tend to linger for years and I just plain don't have the time. The "sell everything fulfilled by amazon" angle seems much better in terms of "it's out of my hair" but not if I end up somehow owing Amazon money in six months' time.

Any advice useful. Adding the disclaimer that yes, I would be sure to sell only books in good condition as opposed to sending them paperbacks that would only sell for a penny or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I was you a few months back. I found that unless you sell them very cheaply, they don’t often sell…and fulfillment yourself was a hassle when trying to move. I found it worthwhile only with expensive/rare books and ended up selling the rest to a local used bookstore or just donated to a charity shop to get rid of them. Amazon has some weird withholding practices, just as an FYI. Being honest on condition is helpful, and I’d let them fulfill if you just want them gone.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 2:16 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: What do you mean by "weird withholding practices"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:19 PM on July 5, 2021

I had a friend who basically gave away books when he was downsizing. You had to give him a genre and he would have five or so books ready for you to pick up.

Selling on Amazon is a hassle. If you’re already moving (and I realize it’s not far), why add to the stress and uncertainty?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:50 PM on July 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

If ease truly is more important than how much money you'll get, I'd suggest selling them to Powell's via their online service; it's much less complicated. Added bonus, Powell's is much less evil.
posted by dizziest at 2:54 PM on July 5, 2021 [13 favorites]

My local bookstore told that a used book has to sell for at least $10 for it to be worth their time because of changes to Amazon's fee structure. I have found that 1) your books aren't as valuable as you think and 2) shipping them out is a hassle. Why sign up for a $5/hour job.
posted by mecran01 at 2:56 PM on July 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

So, I recently used to sell a bunch of books (some mine, some belonging to a friend who's moving). They pay for shipping and offer you a fixed (sometimes very low, like $0.08) price for the books, and they don't take everything. But I kind of felt like anything Ziffit didn't think *they* could sell, I probably wasn't going to be able to sell either. For the ones they will take, it's dead easy: you just go through your shelves and scan barcodes, then box up the ones they accept and take them to a UPS dropoff. I got $80 for two largish boxes of books ($30 of that was probably accounted for by three or four of the books) and it probably took me an hour and a half to scan, box up, and drop off the books.

Another thing I've seen people do (and might do myself with the books that Ziffit wouldn't take) is put them into "lots" and sell them on eBay - like, "beach reads," "middle grade novels," "art books," etc. You won't get much money for them but you'll get rid of a bunch at once, and if they haven't sold by the end of your week-long auction you know they just need to go to Goodwill or whatever.
posted by mskyle at 3:00 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To combine the advice by dizziest and mskyle - is great for this; it searches multiple buyback sites (including Powell's and Ziffit) and returns a list of sites willing to buy that book. It's unfortunately a book-by-book process, entering each book by IBSN - I think there's a way to scan ISBNs with an app but I haven't tried it. If you still have books that none of the sites are buying, either donate them or hold onto them and try again later - I've been culling our library over time and if no one is buying the book now, someone might be interested in a month or two.
posted by sencha at 3:07 PM on July 5, 2021 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: I'd actually used Bookscouter once before, and I may do that with most of the books. But there are some books I may still try on Amazon - I'm seeing Bookscouter cough up bids of $5 or $10 per volume in the series, meanwhile on Amazon the "used- acceptable" copies are selling for more like $18, and my copies are in very good condition. (It's the complete set of the Cerebus "telephone books".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:23 PM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: Are they selling for more like 18 or are they listed for more like 18? It's an easy trap to fall into.
posted by phunniemee at 4:18 PM on July 5, 2021 [9 favorites]

Sample transaction for me…they withheld the money for a month so any chargebacks are covered. So it’s quite a long time before you “get paid” after you ship.

Price: $85.00
Tax: $7.23
Shipping: $3.99
Shipping tax: $0.34
Amazon fees: -$16.14
Marketplace Facilitator Tax: -$7.23
Marketplace Facilitator Shipping Tax: -$0.34
Your earnings: $72.85
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2021

I'm getting ready for a move and downsizing generally, and have found Facebook marketplace pretty easy to unload a lot of items - some people are clearly browsing while bored at work - I mostly get messages 9-5, M-F.
posted by coffeecat at 7:57 PM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: (It's the complete set of the Cerebus "telephone books".)

In that case, you might want to try eBay; I used eBay to sell off a bunch of my complete sets of manga and generally sold them quickly. Looks like a full set sold in April for $400 and there's another current listing for $350.
posted by sencha at 8:03 PM on July 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

Any reason you're not just taking this stuff to the Strand? Looks like they'll even evaluate bigger collections via photos.
posted by yeahlikethat at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2021

Response by poster: Any reason you're not just taking this stuff to the Strand?

Whenever I've physically taken things to any used bookstore, I've always ended up with them turning several books away, and I have to schlep them back home again. Not only would physically traveling there eat up time (for no guarantee they would take everything), I'm getting over a broken knee and I don't have the mobility.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 PM on July 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So I'm pretty much going to mark this as "Resolved", thanks to the much-better ideas you've given me:

* Once I sort through all the books (should be done next week), I will set aside an afternoon to tackle "where do the unwanted books go".

* The Cerebus books and two other potentially "valuable" books will go up on ebay, with a target sell-by date that's one week later. But if it doesn't, that collection of books is small enough that I can take it to work and have it live there until that all sells. (I may underbid for the complete Cerebus set - it'd be awesome to sell the whole set for $300, but if pricing it at only $100 gets it sold faster I'm happy.)

* Everything else will be put through BookScouter to see which outlets are buying what, and I'll ship it all away to whoever's the highest bidder in each case, even if the highest bid for a given book is 20 cents. (If it's part of a big bunch of books all going to the same place, it'll still be worth it.)

* Anything still left behind after all that will go out on the curb on moving day.

* And then I will take myself to a movie.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 AM on July 7, 2021

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