Thursday, March 30, 2006


Even bookselling requires courage. Last weekend I finally worked up the courage to open an eBay store and uploaded 2000 of our books there. This probably doesn't sound nerve-wracking but it was. Even more nerve-wracking than going to a crowded library sale and fighting for space and watching other dealers look up book values with their cell phones while I'm holding a toddler in one arm and a stack of books in another and having to rely solely on my wits.

eBay is the most expensive place to sell books online. The monthly costs are double (or more) the costs of Amazon, Alibirs, etc. Plus it isn't easy to upload 2000 books to eBay, the way it is on the other sites. You have to use an outside service and it's somewhat minds-on because you have to configure your settings and insert codes and such. So, the thought of an eBay store always gave me pause and we've only used eBay to auction the occasional book or to sell groupings of books.

When you have a store on eBay you can let your inventory sit there indefinitely at a fixed price until it sells and not hassle with auctions. The downside to this is that store inventory doesn't show prominently in regular searches. Most people don't use the special store inventory search field, they use the search bar at the top of every eBay page. eBay did store owners a favor (!) in February and improved the way store inventory appeared in regular searches. We've had an eBay store for non-book items for almost two years and I noticed a surge in sales immediately. This, along with the recommendation of Craig Stark at Book Think gave me the courage I needed to open a store last Friday (speaking of BookThink, there is a profile of us on their home page this week).

Sales were brisk over the weekend. Then, abruptly, with no warning, eBay announced on Monday night that it was removing store inventory from the regular searches, and we've had one eBay sale since then. This was the very feature that motivated me to open a store in the first place. It figures. We finally take the plunge and eBay changes the rules yet again. I'm tempted to sit back on my heels and give up on an eBay store but I won't. The next time I need some bookselling relaxation I'll just go to the busiest library sale in my area and bring a few extra toddlers with me.
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