I sold another batch of books on ebay, and several people have been curious to know which books sold and which did not.

Again, I sold exactly half of the books I listed.  First time around I sold 10 out of 20 books.  This time, ebay had a promotion offering free listings for March (usually it costs 30 – 50 cents to list each item) so I bunged on another 16, and sure enough, I have sold 8!  So it seems 50% is a good rule of thumb when it comes to books.

I was surprised with what did NOT sell.  Probably I have an assumption that internet people are more into self-help, spirituality sort of stuff.  Hence I expected that Caroline Jones “The Search for Meaning” would be first to go – but no, not a single bid, not even at 99 cents.  Ditto Steve Biddulph’s “Stories of Manhood”.  And I did think that there were enough animal lovers out there – dog lovers in particular – to get “Great Working Dog Stories” for 99 cents.  But no. (If you wonder about everything being listed at a starting price of 99 cents, well the free listings only applied to 99 cent listings, but it’s best to start low in any case.)

But Kerry Greenwood “Queen of the Flowers” was a winner, a little paperback that everyone was bidding frantically for, and eventually sold for $15.90, plus postage of course.

Kerry Greenwood is an Australian writer of whodunits, heroine Phryne Fisher, and set in Melbourne in the 1920’s.  I was given it for Christmas a couple of years ago, and although it was quite readable I wasn’t sufficiently keen to go out and read more Kerry Greenwoods, so I was most surprised that she apparently has such a following.

People also bid for “World of Tears” the story of Father Chris Riley, and Ian McEwen’s “The Innocent” but everything else just went for the basic 99 cents plus postage.

One book I was surprised but pleased to have no bids for, was “Shackleton’s Forgotten Men”.  It’s fascinating and I think I prefer to keep it.

When Shackleton set out to cross the Antarctic in 1915, he had a small support party that went to the opposite side of the continent and crossed towards Shackleton’s group setting up a lifeline of depots for the coming party.  Of course, Shackleton got frozen in and didn’t come but they weren’t to know that, so they went ahead anyway. It’s a good read.

Ebay …. Ooooops!!

Best book I read during 2008 was “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak.  I recommend it to everybody – I can’t imagine anybody who would not find it quite enthralling.  It’s long, but you feel almost disappointed when it ends – although I hasten to add the ending itself is very satisfying.

I wanted to buy a copy for a friend, from ebay.  So I was “watching” the book as the end of the auction drew near, which means I didn’t put in a bid yet but could see how it was tracking, and I got reminders when it was due to close.  It was only  bid up to $5.40 (plus $9.60 postage), so 10 minutes before it closed I put in a bid. I bid a maximum of $7.50, which I thought would get it for me.

Only problem was, the dot didn’t register, so I suddenly saw on the screen that I had just confirmed my bid of $750 for the book!! 

Luckily on ebay your bid doesn’t necessarily mean that is what you pay.  It means that ebay will put in automatic bids for you up to that number, and if the bidding goes higher they drop you out.  But I was sweating, I can tell you!!  I watched with bated breath, an eye on the screen and an eye on the second hand of the clock.

Two minutes before it closed, somebody else put in a $10 bid, so of course mine automatically outbid them, and I got the book for $10.50 plus postage.

Wheeeew!!

After talking loudly for months about my intention to sell some books on ebay, I finally did just that. If you think you have something that could be sold on ebay, here is what you do need and what you don’t need.

Don’t Need  Make sure that you don’t actually need to make any money.  Sure, you will probably make some, but it won’t be a fortune. You pay a listing fee, which is 30 cents per item if you set your starting price at less than a dollar, 50 cents for $1-$20, and so on. I listed 10 books the first week, and 10 the second week, most with a starting price of 99 cents, and I sold 10 books, ie exactly half.  When they do sell, ebay takes a commission of about 5%, and if the buyer pays using PayPal then there is a fee taken out of that too.

Do Need  You need to have lots of spare time to be a seller on ebay!  First, listing 10 books is not something you can do in five minutes.  Take a photo of each item, then go through the listing procedure. I had difficulties choosing which interest category a lot of my books fitted into, and then you have to download your photo, give an accurate description (I type up a screed from the blurb, as a rule) and – most problematic – put your price and also how much the postage will be (kitchen scales, a little Australia Post booklet and a lot of guesswork).  All this takes literally hours for 10 books.

But the busy period is at the expiry of the auction. Buyers and potential buyers send a flood of emails asking for more details, or asking how much is the postage if they buy two, or else, hallelujah someone bought a book for $1.20 and what are your banking details for a direct deposit, and getting their address, going to the Post Office every day or so and standing in a queue, sending “feedback” to say they are a prompt payer and a good ebayer (because ebay is very big on “feedback”) sending reminder invoices and answering further queries, then mopping up with people who forgot to leave you their own “feedback” or those who forgot the closing date but are still interested.

It’s great fun, and quite exciting to get a sale or to watch the bidding climb over the week (really only happened with a Jodie Picoult and a Richard Dawkins) but I don’t think I could do it if I was still working full-time.  At present all my books are either unsold, or else sold and posted, so I am having a couple of weeks off.  Then I’ll do another batch.  It won’t get me to London, probably not even to Port Macquarie, but it’s a lot of fun.