[Michlib-l] selling books online

Robert P. Holley aa3805 at wayne.edu
Fri Jul 3 12:26:45 EDT 2015


As someone who has written on this issue and who has sold books online for ten years as a hobby, I would advise thinking very carefully before taking on this task. The best site to sell on is Amazon, which currently draws the largest number of buyers. Their commission structure is high, but Amazon produces the most sales. Overall, my sales are down substantially. I'm assuming the reason is the increasing importance of ebooks that can't be resold. In addition, prices have come down drastically with the entrance of thrift shops and the library resellers like Better World Books, Thrift Books, and others. Most best sellers get sold for a penny plus shipping. I don't know how these vendors make any money. 


The big issue is the time that it takes to list and to package/ship the books. While going on vacation is possible, someone needs to be around most of the time to check for orders, package them, and mail them out. Having a reliable Friends group to do this is the best strategy, but I'll strongly stress reliable. I would also only list reasonably expensive items and those with a high Amazon sales rank. I have books that I listed years ago that still haven't sold. Some of the strangest items sell and often at a good price, but it can take a long time. Fortunately, I have a very large basement. 


To succeed at this business, the library would need to provide excellent service, accurate descriptions, and mailing within two days of receiving the order. 


I know of some libraries that sell directly, but I don't think that it's overall a good idea unless the library has great books and free labor. Also most librarians don't know which books are valuable and which aren't though checking books with ISBNs can be done by purchasing/leasing a scanning program that quickly evaluates the sales potential. 


The other option is to find good books with probable sales potential and then sending them to Amazon to ship out when bought. This option has many fees attached including shipping and storage, but I don't know all that much about this choice. One of the vendors that I talked to at the ALA Conferences sells software that mostly automates the process. I can't give any advice on whether libraries consider this product to be a success. 


I hope this helps. 


Bob 


Dr. Robert P. Holley 
Professor, School of Library & Information Science 
Wayne State University 
Detroit, MI 48202 
aa3805 at wayne.edu 
248-547-0306 (phone) 
313-577-7563 (fax) 
----- Original Message -----

From: "Cheryl Kersey" <threeoakspubliclibrary at yahoo.com> 
To: "Michlib-l ListServ" <michlib-l at mcls.org> 
Sent: Friday, July 3, 2015 11:48:26 AM 
Subject: [Michlib-l] selling books online 



Do any libraries sell books on ebay or other online sites? If so, do you have any tips - best sites, best practices, things to not do? 
We've just started exploring this and any advice would be appreciated. 
Happy 4th of July! 



Cheryl Kersey, Director 
Three Oaks Township Public Library 
3 North Elm Street 
Three Oaks, MI 49128 
phone 269.756.5621 
fax 269.756.3004 
www.threeoaks.michlibrary.org 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Three-Oaks-Township-Public-Library/320985011263051 



"A Library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." Henry Ward Beecher 

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