How Not To Sell Books on Amazon.

I have a lot of books. I like them. I like to have books around. I like to read them and look at them. I kind of feel smarter when I look at my bookshelf and see that it’s full of books. Until I realize that half of them are YA dystopian fiction. But still, they’re books.

Anyway, I have too many. They don’t fit on my bookshelf. I’ve finished the book and know I’ll never read it again. Or I have a grown-up book that I don’t want my kids to find lying around and try to read one day. Although I do have this book with paintings from the Louvre that my son likes to looks through so he can see all the naked people. Is it hypocritical that I’m ok with my kid seeing naked people in fine art but am worried he’ll read curse words in a novel?

I heard somewhere that anyone can sell books on Amazon. You can set up an inventory and set your own price using the old books you have around the house that you were going to donate, anyway. I thought this was a great idea! I always cringe a little when I donate books because I never actually know if they’ll get used or just recycled. So I found 20 books I don’t want and put ’em up for sale on Amazon!

The only books that sold were the new ones. And by “new”, I mean someone gave them to me as a gift but I never got around to reading them. Or never wanted to read them. Or cared. So they’re pretty much still new, right off the shelf.

The thing about listing books as new is that you can charge more for them. All my new books sold right away because I had them listed for a few dollars under what other retailers were selling them for. The “new from publisher” price was something like $17. The average “new” from from resellers was maybe $9. I would list it at about $6 just so I would be sure to get rid of it. Because I don’t really care if make much money from this, I just want those books out of my house. These are things I was about to give away for free just to free up space. So making a few bucks off this is a nice bonus.

I listed a book for $3.99 on Amazon. Shipping is also $3.99, per Amazon’s suggestion. When the book sold, Amazon took $2.94 as it’s fee and I paid $3.57 for a shipping label. So I made $1.40 for the book that sold. Except that I had to pay $.20 to print the packing list and shipping label (because my printer broke) and I needed to buy an envelope ($.30) and shipping tape ($2.38) because I didn’t have sticker printer labels and my kids had somehow misplaced my roll of big, clear tape that I’m sure is still floating around the house somewhere. And since I was at the store, anyway, buying stuff I needed to sell something else I went ahead and bought a pack of sugar cookies to deal with the stress ($3.28).

Let’s see the math on that:

3.99 (Book price)
+ 3.99 (Shipping price)
= 7.98
– 2.94 (Amazon fee)
= 5.04
– 3.57 (Shipping label)
= 1.47
–   .20 (Printing costs)
= 1.27
–   .30 (Envelope)
=   .97
– 2.38 (Shipping Tape)
= -1.41
– 3.28 (Emotional Cookie Binge)
= -4.69

I basically paid someone $4.69 to take my book. Giving it away probably would’ve been the financially wise decision here.


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