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Selling Used Books: Which is Better, Amazon or Ebay?

Updated on June 7, 2012

Where to sell books online?

If you've got books, DVDs or other media which you want to get rid of, which site is best to sell them on? The two biggest and best are Amazon and Ebay, so I will look at the pro's and con's of each of them.

Ebay

The advantage with Ebay is that you can sell anything you want (or almost anything anyway), and you can effectively do a lot of the marketing yourself, taking a good photo, writing an enticing description and so on.

Most ebay listings last for either 7 or 10 days, and so assuming the book or other item you are selling gets one or more bids then you will sell it quickly. You will also get paid and get the money straight away, via paypal. You have immediate access to that money to withdraw to your bank account (which does take a few days) or immediately spend on buying something else. Also, if there is a lot of interest in your book then you will get the true market price, as people will bid against each other for it.

The main disadvantage of Ebay is that it is quite a time consuming process listing items, as you have to take photos, write your own description, and fill in some of the details yourself. You also generally have to pay a listing fee, which is non-refundable even if you don't sell the item.

Amazon

The advantages of Amazon are that items are much quicker to list, as you don't need to provide a photo or a description, as these are taken from Amazon's own database. There are no listing fees so there is no risk of losing money, and they stay on Amazon indefinitely until they sell or you take them off. Plus most people go to Amazon when searching for a book and not Ebay.

You get an email when something sells with the address of where to send it. They pay Amazon, not you, and then Amazon pay you monthly.

The disadvantage of Amazon is that fees are quite high, but as there's no listing fees and no paypal fees it probably works out not much different. It is always worth calculating the fees though to make sure it is worthwhile you listing the book, i.e. that your overall profit is worth it.

Conclusion

My view is that it is almost always better to list books on Amazon, unless there is a very high demand for the book or it is in some way collectible. If it is collectible or an antique, or if it has unusal characteristics you want to promote, then it is worth spending the time to list on Ebay. Likewise if it is on a currently topical area, then it may be worth listing on Ebay.

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    • profile image

      Colin Neville 3 years ago

      I've sold books on ABE (an affiliate of Amazon) for 15+ years. It has the advantage of scale & size, but their charges are high, particularly their commission for selling the higher value books. I'm investing therefore in my own bookselling site to sell the more expensive items.

    • nakmeister profile image
      Author

      nakmeister 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thanks for all the comments, I hope you have success trying Amazon for books. Be prepared to wait awhile for sales though - unless it's a really popular item it can take weeks or months to sell, but most do eventually.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      Interesting indeed. When I did sell books on Ebay, it was kinda slow. I will have to check Amazon. Thanks for the great hub.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 5 years ago

      Another interesting hub and I can't wait to find some books to sell.Great advice for everyone.Amazon here I come.

    • nakmeister profile image
      Author

      nakmeister 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      It's definitely worth it - we couldn't have sold a fraction of the books we have if we'd used ebay. I've recently listed boxes and boxes of my in-laws books on Amazon, and to date they've made about £500!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good to know my friend! I have done nothing with Amazon, always working through ebay. I will now take a look at the alternative. Thank you!

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Well this answered my questions and I work with both companies daily with my novels and books (Amazon)and eBay for a Certified comics business called Backl Issue COmix (eBay) Well done on a good question that got my attention! Up and very useful.

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Thanks for a great hub answer! I'm in the more difficult position that I have English books to sell in a non-English speaking country, so eBay is probably not a good place for me to sell them!

    • nakmeister profile image
      Author

      nakmeister 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      No problem, glad it was useful. Business books and textbooks sell really well on Amazon, it can be surprising how much some of them go for. Best way to check is to type the ISBN number into the Amazon search box. That way it looks up the exact version you have. Or if you have a smartphone, download the Amazon app and scan in the barcodes to bring up the book on Amazon - I've been through checking stacks of books this way in a very short space of time.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      This is almost scary. I was looking at a bunch of book last night thinking I need to get rid of them, mostly business book that I have no real need for anymore. Was wondering was the best way to do this short of having a garage sale. I order from Amazon all the time...should think about selling there as well. Thank you very much for answering my question. Voted up and useful.