Amazon Putting New Limits On Your Ability To List Textbooks For Sale

Amazon is cleaning house again.

Or just regrouping.

Or, bottomline, closing a door to extra sales for online booksellers.

Finding, listing and selling old textbooks probably will be a lot harder now that the Amazon Marketplace is adding new restrictions, as noted at this website: The Book Flipper

If your business plan includes reselling used textbooks, read this article and start determining if sourcing textbooks is still worth the risk.

I used to be able to post DVDs and music CDs for sale on Amazon; but now, the ones I find and flip online go straight to Ebay. (Note: they are selling pretty well there, and for less money in fees too).

My thought is that Amazon is making these restrictions not so much to hurt booksellers or limit competition, but, rather, to avoid legal threats of copyright infringement or claims of counterfeiting (which, sadly, is a real thing).

They've already restricted most sellers form posting books in "New" condition unless you can produce invoices direct from a publisher (and you'll need to be an authorized dealer in most cases to make these purchases.)

In any case, our advice for now is to simply protect yourself from investing too heavily in textbooks so you don't get stuck with un-sellable stock.

Better to spend your money on good used non-fiction in ice categories -- the types of good used books that have long-tail appeal and sell for good margins online.

Ebay's Half.com Reported to Close August 2017

This week I noticed this post by an Amazon seller in one of the seller forums:

This letter is to inform you that Half.com will be closing on August 31, 2017, and you will not be able to sell on the platform following that date. Returns will continue to be processed until October 31, 2017.

I never found a reason to post books or DVDs there on that site... especially when they hiked fees last year.

The concept was simple. At one time the site delivered great deals to customers seeking good used merch.

But times change.

Here is the press release announcing Ebay buying half.com back in 2000:

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CBS.MW) - EBay said Tuesday it will buy Half.com for up to $374 million in stock, adding a fixed-price service to the online auctioneer’s business.

Santa Jose-based EBay (EBAY), the largest online auction site, said it will buy privately-held Half.com for between 4.6 million and 5.5 million shares, or $313 million to $374 million based on EBay’s closing stock prices Tuesday.

Shares of EBay rose 3/4 in after-hours trading Tuesday after the announcement, after closing EBay closed up 1 3/16, or 1.8 percent, at 68.

Analysts said they don’t expect the deal to have any immediate affect on EBay’s businesses.

“I think it is an interesting strategic deal,” said Gregory Konezny, senior analyst for U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. “But it will not have a substantial impact for EBay in the foreseeable future.”

So they paid $374 million 16-17 years ago; and now it's closing. Done. Dead. Gone. Worthless?

So.... nobody thought they might sell the domain for something?

Yeah, maybe a fraction of what they paid. But it didn't have any value?

Today, Amazon is the undisputed leader in online selling.

I still post the stuff Amazon won't let me sell on their website -- music CDs, pre-owned DVDs, textbooks -- along with miscellaneous collectible items I find at yard sales and thrift stores and auctions, onto Ebay.

Ebay is also my go-to place to sell book lots.

But Half.com apparently will vanish from digital history.

RIP Half.com

Check For Shipping Supplies In Clearance Section

I ran across a great deal recently...

While waiting to have new tires mounted on my car at Wal-Mart, I did something I seldom do there anymore: check out the clearance section.

This time around, I uncovered some super deals on padded envelopes.

I bought all they had. Large bubblewrap envelopes for $1.50/pack of 5. Smaller package of paperback-size bubblewrap envelopes for only 75 cents.

Why these were on sale?

Who knows. They weren't damaged. Or out-of-date. Or .... no reason at all.

Here's what I brought home for less than $6.00, including sales tax:

The takeaway lesson?

Give yourself two minutes to check out the clearance section at the back corner at Wal-Mart. You just might wind up finding a deal like mine and put cash in your pocket when it comes time to ship used books to your customers.

Who's Making Money From Penny Books Anymore?

While I'd never do it, there are examples of booksellers who do make a small profit from selling penny books on Amazon.
Who are they? How.... and why... do they do it?
Here's an article from several years back that delved into this mystery, and I think it's worthwhile to reflect on as pricing online has changed during the past year:
"Can you really make a living by selling used books on Amazon for a penny?" on the Guardian.com website.
Like I said earlier: I'd never do it. But some people are making money doing it. It's an interesting read. I especially like the story of how one seller got started with free book inventory.
I'd like to try that!

Another Thrift Store Score: Nice Return After Snagging These 4 Used Books I Bought For Only $1.75

I found these paperbacks (condition: used very good) in thrift stores close to my home while out sourcing inventory:

"White Horse Force" by M.A. Meehan
Purchased for 50 cents
Lowest price listed is $13.52
Will list mine for $12.99

"Beware The Third Circle" by Harriett Ford
Purchased for 50 cents
Lowest price listed is $39.88
Will list mine for $37.50

"National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual"
Purchased for 50 cents
Lowest price listed is $38.16
Will list mine for $34.99

This book finally sold after 10 months. I had to lower my selling price down to $17.50 due to competition for this title. I didn't make as much profit as I original projected, but I'll still make a nice ROI on this book, as I only paid 50 cents for this paperback edition.

"Through Alien Eyes" by Wesley H. Bateman
Purchased for 25 cents
Lowest price listed is $15.59
Will list mine for $14.99

Update: This book finally sold after 7 months. My selling price went down to $11.50 because of competition. I'll still make a nice ROI on this book, since I only paid a quarter for the paperback.

Even though 2 of the books still sit on my bookshelf, this is a nice return on my $1.75 investment, and I'm sure eventually, both of those books will find a new home.

These four paperbacks represented a 1:30 ROI when I bought them. I had to drop the price to match competition. They still represent the good quality used books you can source quite readily and easily from thrift stores in just about any market. Even though I've had to drop the initial listing prices to get them sold, I still made a nice profit. You just never want to get disappointed and quit when the competition gets rough. I guess that is the lesson I'm trying to make in this post.

Returns That Left Me Speechless

I've meant to post this for the longest time. Just got busy I guess. Or, maybe I simply didn't know how to put these experiences into words. Here are a couple of book returns that stand out in my memory. Why post these? Maybe to share my experience with you; I've learned that you can never be prepared for everything. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow when running your home-based book business.

I remember one return a couple years ago, from a prison. The book I had shipped a few weeks earlier arrived in my mail. But needless to say, I was alarmed to be getting a package from a correctional facility. I opened it up and took out a book I'd recently shipped to that state, and a letter was included. I don't have the letter anymore. But it stated that the individual who had ordered it was not allowed books in his cell.

What?

I researched the order, and I still couldn't determine that I'd shipped this book to a prison. It seemed like a perfectly ordinary mailing address to me.

I was puzzled: how do inmates order books? Or did someone order this book for them?

I refunded the order. But never heard a peep from any customer.

I don't remember what reason I gave Amazon for the refund because it didn't fit neatly in any of the usual reasons.

But that book went back into inventory and was sold not long afterwards. I wish I could remember the topic. I hope it wasn't on lock picking or building weapons (I did pick up a collection of 'Build your own silencer' books at one time; I disposed of them after this incident, just to stay on the safe side of the law).

In another book return incident that happened about 2 years ago, I shipped a carefully-wrapped college textbook by USPS Media Mail. Within a weeks or so the person who ordered the book sent me a return request, noting they needed a refund because they no longer needed the book (always brings a grumble out of me early in the morning!). I replied that I'd refund once they sent the book back via USPS Media Mail, as this is the cheapest way to ship books.

Well, nobody was listening.

Or else they wanted their refund back pronto.

I received this book back in a flimsy shoebox via Priority Mail. Here is what it looked like:

Surprisingly, even though the packaging looked like it had been in a train wreck, the book inside arrived in fairly decent condition in spite of the fact that it had not been wrapped to prevent scuffing or mangling. There was no protective covering. There was no bubble wrap or packing pillows to protect the book. It was simply tossed in the shoebox with the return authorization and dropped off at their local Post Office.

Yes, the refund went out. But the amount of the refund they received was actually less than the $9.00 they paid for Priority Shipping, so they would have been money ahead to simply keep the book, maybe give it to a fellow student. The cost for Media Mail through the US Postal Service is less than half that.

I braced myself for a blistering response from the customer. I fully expected to have to fight negative feedback.

But none ever came.

I guess they never realized that they'd overpaid for the book by choosing the wrong shipping method. Perhaps they were in a hurry to get to class. Maybe it was Mom & Dad's credit card that was paying for the shipping so they didn't care. Whatever the case, it made me change the way I respond to requests for refunds. I made it clear that the buyer needed to ensure they chose Media Mail for returns or they were liable for the higher costs themselves.

I've never had a similar problem since then.

So two refunds stories. A part of life of your business. People got in a hurry and ordered the wrong book. Or they changed their mind. Or their jailer intercepted their order before they got it. Whatever the reason: Don't stress out if a customer asks for a refund. From my experience they are few and far between, and it is better to refund and move on than to get in a spat with your customer.

I heard this state years ago, and I stuck with me ever since: "The customer isn't always right.... but the customer is always King."

College Students Getting Schooled On Saving Money; Told To Buy Used Textbooks Online

Even places like Credit.com is telling college students the best way to hold down the cost of college is simple: buy used textbooks.

Their article, "The Quick Guide to Cheap Textbooks," offers both basic and specific ideas on how to buy used college textbooks online, like this selection from their article on their website, posted in early September 2014:

On a site like Amazon Marketplace, where you can see used book options from other sellers, evaluate the book’s condition and shipping times prior to purchase. To reduce shipping times, choose a seller that’s in your region. Students should also checkout the local, independent bookstores around campus, which often have stockpiles of used books from last year’s classes.

Here is the link to their article:

http://blog.credit.com/2014/09/the-quick-guide-to-cheap-textbooks-94547/

Amazon Marketplace has made it just a tad bit more difficult for us indie home-based booksellers to compete in the crowded arena of buying and reselling textbooks ... especially if their is an online access pass or a CD-ROM included in the original textbook that is now missing or not accessible because of prior use.

There is indeed money to be made in the textbook market. But be warned about new selling rules, and be advised that heavy college textbooks cost more to ship, especially if you opt to send the book in ways other than USPS Media Mail. Some sellers offer this option because the students need the textbook fast and classes are starting soon.

Amazon Changes Rules For Selling Higher-Priced DVDs On Its Website

Amazon is changing the way sellers list DVDs for sale online. The new procedures and restrictions and hoops to jump through means I will likely not list DVDs for sale any longer. I never have really had much luck selling pre-owned DVDs I've found at auctions or yard sales in the Amazon Seller Platform; usually, I've had more luck reselling them on Ebay. But, nonetheless, here is an email I received the other day from Amazon, notifying me of upcoming changes, and the steps I'd need to take if I wanted to keep listing and selling DVDs with retail prices suggested by the manufacturer (MSRP), or else I'd lose that privilege. The email reads:
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide a great shopping experience, beginning November 17, 2014, only approved sellers will be eligible to list DVDs with Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) of $25 or greater. We are implementing this restriction because these products may have a higher risk of authenticity issues.

Based on your current performance, you are eligible to apply to sell DVDs with MSRPs of $25 or greater. The application process is described below. You will not be eligible to list DVDs with MSRPs of $25 or greater after November 17 unless your application is approved. Your eligibility to list DVDs with MSRPs of less than $25 or Blu-rays is not affected by this restriction. (Underline is mine to show the exception of their new rules.)

Any listings by unapproved sellers for DVDs with MSRPs of $25 or greater will be removed on November 16, 2014. Relisting products you are not approved to sell or creating duplicate listings may result in the immediate suspension or removal of your selling privileges.

If you apply and you do not have an account with a Professional selling plan, you must agree to sign up for a Professional selling plan within 30 days after your application is approved. A Seller Support associate will follow-up to request additional information to complete your application. At that time, you will need to provide the following to the Seller Support associate:

1) Your primary source(s) of inventory
2) A minimum of three (3) invoices or purchase orders for inventory with MSRP greater than $25 that you plan to sell
3) A written summary of processes you have in place to prevent inauthentic goods from entering your inventory

Your application will be evaluated based on the information you supply.

If you use Fulfillment by Amazon, you will need to create a removal or disposal order for any DVD products you have not been approved to sell after November 17. We will waive fees for any removal or disposal order for these products starting now through January 16, 2015. For assistance creating a removal or disposal order, please review this Help page:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200280670

Note that removal or disposal orders received in the fourth quarter may require additional processing time.

As a reminder, sellers are responsible for ensuring the quality of their products and should carefully review all sources of inventory. For more information, see our policies:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201166010

Customers trust they can always buy with confidence on Amazon.com, and this listing restriction is intended to help preserve that trust. Seller feedback is important to us. You can provide feedback by emailing dvd-seller-feedback@amazon.com.

To complete a preliminary application, please click the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201607560

Thank you for selling on Amazon.

So, Amazon has apparently decided to implement some CYA for itself when it comes to sales of used DVDs. For me, I'll pass and adjust the way I resell DVDs, even music CDs, from now on.

I would recommend that you check out the websites where Amazon spells out policies for quality standards, as well as review the 'Help' page topics. Most of the stuff you'll find there will answer just about any question. You can always contact Seller Support via their online contact form; however, many times the responses are off-base. It seems like they merely scan your email and reply with a standard reply. If they are way off mark and you still need a solid answer, contact them again, tell them no, that reply did not answer my question, and politely ask for a clarification.

Post your personal opinion in the comments of this new DVD policy by Amazon. I'm curious what you have to say on the topic.

Vintage Magazines Yield Treasure Trove of Old Dr. Seuss Tales, Articles Compiled Into New Book

Here's a tale about someone discovering old magazine stories in 1950's copies of Redbook Magazine, and turning them into a new Dr. Seuss book that just hit the market this Fall:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/09/10/book-offers-long-lost-dr-seuss-stories-including-a-new-grinch/

Yet more proof that there is treasure in old magazines. Be on the lookout for old, collectible:


  • Vintage ads
  • Unique historical photos and articles
  • How-To features
  • Celebrity news that has been forgotten
  • War heroes
  • Little-known facts


These are treasure to collectors and historians, and can provide a steady source of profits to you.

Check out our latest e-book on "How To Make Easy Cash With Old Magazines: Make Money Finding, Listing & Selling Used and Vintage Magazines In Your Spare Time!" -- available over the next 60 days for you to read for free if you are a current subscriber in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program, or you can buy it for just $2.99 as a Kindle Book right now... about the price of a cup of coffee at your neighborhood cafe.


Why Addicts Are Best Customers To Target When Selling Magazines Online

Here's a reminder that the best customers are addicts .... or, rather, avid collectors who tend to get obsessed with gathering all their favorite stuff together. They get addicted to completing their collection.

If you are on the fence about whether or not there is money to be made selling used magazines online, here is a recent story of one man's quest to collect all things Sports Illustrated.

Although it appears from the article that he built his collection from the issues he received via subscription to SI, just think of all the similar collectors around the world who are missing this or that issue... and how YOU can help them complete their collection!

Here is the link to the story:

http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/2014/08/20/ken-cooper-sports-illustrated-magazine-collection/14327211/