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Why list books for One Cent

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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2015 10:58:11 AM PDT
If you are paying someone $7/hour who can process 20 books an hour, and you make $1.00/book ($4-amazon fees and postage), you're not running a loss-leader, you're running a low-cost, efficient operation that a small mom-and-pop business can't compete with. Welcome to the new world. That's the same complaint the grocers who had a counter and would take the list from the customer and pull the item from the shelves said when the supermarkets moved in. They don't list big, expensive books for 1 cent - they are mostly paperbacks or smallish hardbacks. And they sell hundreds of thousands, millions of books that they buy in bulk for pennies.

I only sell books that will sell for at least $15, which means I sell only a few books a year. I can't compete with the Big Boys, and I'm not counting on my Amazon business to pay my mortgage.

Posted on Apr 25, 2015 10:26:38 PM PDT
Amazon should stop using the automatic price undercutting feature in their system. That would give booksellers a bit more fair chance of not being automatically and instantly undercut no matter how low they set their prices. Amazon has always wanted to be seen as the company that provides goods at the lowest possible price, not the highest price. There are evils in both directions. I don't like automatic price undercutting any more than I like super high speed stock trading, which is ruled by those with computers located as close as possible to the center of Wall Street. This type of system will never allow for a fair free market system and will always be dominated by the most aggressive, most cutthroat high speed, high volume commercial operators who will maximize their profits by destroying every competitor without the slightest moral compunctions. The rich get richer. It's the (im)moral toilet of the so-called (fictional, fantasy ideal) "free market" system--total domination, superexploitation and exponential impoverishment of everyone from the very bottom all the way up to the top 1/100th of 1 percent of the population.

Posted on Apr 25, 2015 10:18:58 PM PDT
I think those who sell at one penny per book should be viewed as "scabs" because they undercut every legitimate seller on Amazon, particularly those trying to earn money and respecting the value of books. Just like "scabs" who break strikes by undercutting those seeking a living wage for their labor, these book "scabs" make it impossible for anyone to earn a reasonable profit from usable used books. Big money guys may set up such operations to deliberately lose money to make it so that they can use it as a tax writeoff and thereby have a loss for the whole year to reduce or eliminate big money taxes on other operations.

Posted on Apr 25, 2015 10:13:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 25, 2015 10:14:13 PM PDT
I think if you order a penny book now and then you will occasionally notice a "glitch" whereby when you order, specifically when you do one of the instant orders, you get charged more than a penny, often something like $5, plus shipping. Then if you check back to see the listing, it has disappeared, and the only listing remaining has books at the $5 price which wasn't there before. In other words, there's a hack that's being used whereby some sellers can get away with "appearing" to sell at one penny per book, but in actuality they are making something like $7, and it's almost impossible to document the misrepresentation after the system has erased it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2014 10:43:14 AM PST
S. Kapustka says:
Maybe you should have the charity invest in the device and learn to maximize their income. It sounds like the best stuff is going out the door for no money.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2014 10:40:49 AM PST
W. Barber says:
BOOKSTERS: I volunteer at a local charity bookstore. Sometimes retired people come in (regular customers) who own a special, hand-held scanner gadget that reads the barcodes on the back of every book and displays the worth of the book. They scan every book they think may be valuable, and buy only the ones the scanner shows are valuable, to take home and re-sell later. You would be surprised, how certain small paperbacks can be relatively recent, and yet still sell, used, on Amazon for $100 - $200, if they're on intriguing subjects and had a limited press-run by a little-known publisher. 2 such examples that I found, are "Iron Toothpick" (the Appalachian Trail) and "Germany's Black Holocaust."

Posted on Dec 9, 2014 1:02:17 PM PST
It's disappointing to hear much fuss and gossip about how organizations are "making money." It is a privilege to become an Amazon merchant. The purpose of profit is to stay in business. These organizations gives hours in exchange for cents and they serve their causes. How ever they achieve it, it's their right. Whether their knowledge is natural, comes from formal education or how ever acquired, there's no need to be envious and thieving about what they have that you or I may lack or have neglected to use.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2014 6:06:34 PM PST
Such unnecessary rudeness!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2014 2:38:35 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 16, 2014 12:07:06 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2014 1:09:42 PM PDT
Ilya Kogan says:
I personally know as someone who used to sell antinques on ebay that feedback is very important. I doubt they care as much about making the $2 because of the shipping as they do the positive feed back they get. So if the textbook is not an updated version and people still need it they are willing to make minimal profit to get that positive feedback.

Posted on Jul 2, 2014 1:08:59 PM PDT
Ilya Kogan says:
I personally know as someone who used to sell antinques on ebay that feedback is very important. I doubt they care as much about making the $2 because of the shipping as they do the positive feed back they get. So if the textbook is not an updated version and people still need it they are willing to make minimal profit to get that positive feedback.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2014 10:32:18 PM PDT
Not that it will necessarily help you any, but with planning ahead, you can usually get padded mailers in bulk that fit most books on ebay at a cost per envelope of about 20-30 cents (including shipping). Even buying them individually at retail in "brick and mortar" stores, Walgreen's is totally ripping you off at that price. If you go to someplace like Wal-Mart you should find them for about $1 or less, depending on what exact size you're trying to get. A lot of stores, particularly office supply stores (i.e. Staples) will sell mailers for significantly less than the $2.23 you paid per mailer, particularly if you buy them in multi-packs.

Likewise, if you buy your shipping labels online through amazon's "buy shipping" feature, you will have your packages all paid for and ready to go so you can just dump off your shipments at any blue mailbox. If your book is particularly big or you managed to sell a lot of books at once, dropping them off at the mailbox like that probably won't be practical, but since it sounds like you're probably only going to sell them one or two at a time, that should work a lot better for you, and save you a lot of time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2014 10:06:16 PM PDT
That's exactly how I look at it; if you aren't going to make money off the book, but you still want to have them be reused, just take them to your local thrift store. A lot (although not all) of thrift stores are run by charities, and if you take the books to the charity-run ones you can usually write off your donations as a charitable contribution for your taxes as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2014 9:59:12 PM PDT
I believe that buying shipping through amazon does get you a slight discount, but if you have the monthly "professional seller" subscription, they discount the fees on the individual book sales by 99 cents. I still don't think they're really making anything, particularly after they buy shipping supplies (padded mailers and such), but a seller with the subscription would at least be losing significantly less money on each of these sales.

Posted on Apr 29, 2014 12:53:37 PM PDT
My understanding is that many of the penny prices happen algorithmically. Big seller A buys a ton of books and prices then. Big seller B buys a ton of books and prices then a penny under A. A's computer automatically reprices a penny under B. B's computer automatically reprices a penny under A...

I just downsized dramatically (when all is said and done I'll probably be down to under 200 dead tree books, from thousands) and even though I'm an Amazon seller, most of the books went to Goodwill. Between the low prices for used books and Amazon fees, unless you're trying to get your numbers up it's just not worth the effort.

Posted on Apr 8, 2014 4:55:58 PM PDT
V. Lomayev says:
they don't wanna make any profit, that's why they are selling it at 0.01. its that simple.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2014 5:37:07 PM PST
mr. Y. G. says:
And from the 50 cents you have to pay shipping $2 and package materials and the time to do it and gas to go to the post office!!! Go figure!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2013 5:37:35 PM PST
i agree to what you say but amazon will still charge you 3.21+ for book that is sold so lets do math i sell a book for 1 cent i get 3.99 shipping now not all the time cost 1.50 to shipped a book it depends to where buyer lives now lets say i sell a book for 19 cents the shipping is 3.99 but amazon is charging me 2.37 i get 1.81 but if shipping cost me 2.50 im losing money. i think their fees are way way crazy

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2013 10:55:05 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2014 5:19:42 PM PDT
subduedjoy says:
It has to do with volume and the high shipping costs Amazon charges. The companies ship for less than what you pay for shipping.

They might have multiple listings of the same book because they have multiple shipping points. This also helps reduce their shipping costs.

Posted on Nov 14, 2013 4:37:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2013 4:41:22 PM PST
S. M. Barden says:
I understand the idea of "loss leaders" in most retail settings, but I really question whether that works on Amazon. There really isn't any "brand loyalty" on Amazon to particular sellers. Most people don't even post feedback, regardless of your service. You can give someone a terrific deal and great service, but next time he's on Amazon he'll just buy whatever he's looking for at the lowest price, without even looking at the seller other than to make sure he or she doesn't have horrible feedback. Basically, Amazon Marketplace is all about the price, so selling "loss leaders" really doesn't gain you anything as a seller.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2013 3:34:44 PM PST
C. Pilson says:
Loss leaders.

Posted on Nov 10, 2013 10:13:40 AM PST
Jonathan W says:
I'm a "casual seller" who won't list any book unless I can comfortably charge at least $3.50. Just not worth the time & effort. If other folks are selling it for a penny, it gets donated for the library book sale. Individuals need to be realistic and calculate their profit margin. How much did the item cost them, how much is postage, how much are supplies, how long does it take to prepare mailing labels & packaging, are they actually waiting in line at the post office (do sellers still do this??), and what is Amazon's cut. Anyone who does not do this has zero business sense and shouldn't waste their time selling anything, much less on Amazon. Now look at a professional seller selling a 1 penny item that needs to go media mail. Assume a 1-lb rate. Seller gets $4 (.01 + 3.99 shipping credit). Costs them $2.53 for the 1 pound rate and Amazon takes out $1.35 for the variable fee. (There is no per item fee for professional sellers, and the referral fee is 15% of .01). Figure also that they are selling enough to amortize the monthly fee to be insignificant on a per item basis. Leaves them with 12 CENTS, EXCLUDING packaging & labor costs AND the cost of the item to them!! They are LOSING money. Tell me where I'm wrong, please!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2013 6:32:30 AM PDT
Delos says:
Well, that's the thing. A bunch of the huge, mega book sellers on here don't (it drives me nuts). They just put your book in a plastic bag (you can search for them on here as 'poly mailers', that are veeeeeery cheap in bulk).

I (used to) run a mental list of the ones that did this to avoid, but, annoyingly, I've ordered books lately from other listings just to have them arrive and find out it was just a new subsidiary of one of those big we-ship-with-no-protection-and-no-tracking-number joints.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2013 9:46:51 PM PDT
S. M. Barden says:
Where do you get decent packaging materials for 50 cents? If you put the books in a bubble cushioned mailer, you're looking at considerably more than that.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2013 9:45:01 PM PDT
S. M. Barden says:
If you give all of your extra books to a private library (assuming they are decent books that the library can use), you're much farther ahead than you'll be by selling them on Amazon for 1 cent. You can take a tax write off for charitable donations, be pleased that you made someone's life better, and come out ahead financially.
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Discussion in:  Textbook Buyback forum
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Total posts:  379
Initial post:  Apr 16, 2011
Latest post:  Apr 26, 2015

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