(Continued from 3)
If You Decide to Go it On Your Own
If you decide to market and sell your texts, youll
be going into business (though on a small scale). Make
sure know what youre getting into. Read the web
page carefully before starting out. All companies have
specific expectations that are carefully outlined on
site for review or print out.
After you set up an account, youll need to list
your books for sale. The key is to ask fair prices and
describe the conditions of the books. Sites generally
provide solid guidelines. They know the market, so pay
If the site suggests going half the price, then you
may go a bit higher . . . but not a lot higher. The
seller on eBay
with News Reporting & Writing listed at $69.95
is not likely to sell the text, which lists at $55.95.
Who would pay more for a used book than for a brand
If you have a book with very few listings, then you
may be able to go higher. For instance, I bought How
to Write and Sell Your Personal Experiences by Lois
Duncan for $8.00 with a book jacket list of $12.95.
This is an old title and out-of-print, so I would not
expect to get the book for half or less of the original
price. In fact, I was thrilled to get the book for $8.00
and would have gone higher.
When you describe the books, be specific. If you highlight
your texts, then say so (which can actually be a plus).
If you wrote your name on the cover, then mention it.
Bent or scuffed on the corners? Say so. Most buyers
arent concerned about minor use, but they do want
to know before they buy. If youre not sure how
to describe your books, then check out how other sellers
are listing the conditions.
My Books are Listed. What Now?
If you have books listed, then watch your email. If
you cant check every day or every other day, then
pull the books down for a while or click the vacation
option. I know Ill be away a week next month,
and I plan to put my books on hold during that time.
If someone wants to buy a book and I dont confirm
by email in 48 hours, then the sale is cancelled (and
I dont look like a very responsible seller).
Once you confirm, mail the book. In many cases, students
need the book yesterday. Although its fine to
use media mail (slower but lower priced) unless instructed
to do otherwise, you want to mail as soon as you can.
Its a good idea to have a mailing plan in place,
so you are ready when you sell a book. If youre
not sure how to handle mail-outs, then here is an easy
list covering the basics:
- Double check the book and make sure you are mailing
out the right book.
- Cushion and stabilize the text. I use a bubble wrap
and packing tape once horizontal and once vertical.
- Put in a sturdy box. I save and use old boxes if
they are thick and well made.
- Add packing. I reuse packing material like popcorn
or use slick magazine pages. Newspaper print tends
to rub off and can decrease the value of the book.
- Tape up the box including corners.
- Label carefully including return address (your address
and not the dot com address).
- Write media mail on the box unless youre
asked to mail faster at a higher cost.
- Insure if the book is worth more than a few dollars.
Its also nice to include a short, personal note.
I stick an inexpensive note card in thanking the student
for buying and wishing them well in class.
Why Should I Go the Extra Mile?
Most direct sale sites give buyers the option to rate
sellers. Its really helpful to know if you can
count on the person at the other end of the online chain.
Most buyers do look at the ratings and are more likely
to buy if you have a high rating. If you price fairly,
describe well, and mail out fast, then you should rate
high, and buyers are more likely to buy your books.
If you have a textbook gathering dust on the shelf,
pull it out and sell it. Someone will be thrilled to
get a good price on a used book, and youll have
a few extra dollars to put in your wallet. It doesnt
take a lot of time and effort though research and planning
will mean a smoother transaction and better shot at
being an online text bookseller.
Cyndi Allison is a lecturer at Catawba College and
a freelance writer.