eBay is the second-largest e-commerce website, with 152 million active buyers in 2014. Its users sell everything from trinkets to small aircraft, and almost anything else you can imagine – including a wide variety of new and used textbooks.
In a marketplace as big as eBay, there are a number of ways to get creative and make your textbook listings stand out from the crowd. In this chapter, we’ll explore the basics of putting together a quality eBay listing for your new and used textbooks, as well as tips for making the quickest sales at the best prices.
Before you post your listing, it’s important to get a sense of the current market for your textbooks, and how much you can reasonably expect to be paid for them. One easy way to see the typical going price is to search for your textbook’s title and edition on eBay, using the left sidebar to select only sold listings.
You’ll want to make your textbook as visually appealing as possible in order to attract buyers, and that means tidying it up. Assuming your book is used rather than new or like-new, there are some basic steps you can take to give it the best presentation.
Photos are the face of your listing, and make a strong immediate impression on potential buyers. That means it’s important to depict your textbook in a setting that’s clear, well-lit, and shows buyers everything they need to know about your book.
An eBay listing’s title field allows 80 characters, and you should make full use of all of them, choosing a succinct and direct description. Make sure to include the textbook’s title, year, edition, authors, and publisher where possible. It may be worth it to pay extra for a subtitle to be displayed alongside your listing title, allowing you to include additional information.
Again, make note of whether the the textbook includes CDs, DVDs, or unused codes for online resources. Emphasizing the original sales price of the book can demonstrate to potential buyers how much they'll save by purchasing your textbook.
In the details of your item, describe the condition of the textbook and any damage. Be sure to make an honest assessment of its quality in order to avoid complaints, returns, or negative feedback.
Unless your book is wholly untouched, don’t list it as new or like new.
If the book is creased along the spine and otherwise undamaged, it can be listed as very good or good.
On eBay, you have the ability to make your listing either an auction or a fixed-price sale. When choosing your price or starting bid, take into account the condition of the textbook, as well as its relative scarcity on the market. If no one else is selling the same book, you may be able to ask a higher price, whereas selling a common textbook may make it necessary to reduce your price to stay competitive.
Be sure to choose a price that is the minimum you’ll accept. However, if you’re more interested in simply selling the book at any price, you can opt to accept a “Best Offer”, allowing potential buyers to propose a lower price.
Potential buyers may ask questions about your textbook, and you should be sure to answer these as soon as possible. Offering specifics can increase the chance that they’ll choose to buy from you, and the additional information will be displayed on your listing page.
And to cash-strapped students, offering free shipping can make your textbook stand out from other listings of the same item. Always provide tracking numbers, and include your contact information so your buyers can communicate with you.
As soon as your book is sold and you receive payment from your buyer, it’s time to ship it. Make sure to do this in a timely manner – on the same day if possible.
Pack your textbook by finding an envelope or box that’s slightly bigger, wrapping the book in protective bubble wrap. Placing it in a waterproof bag, such as a plastic grocery bag, can shield your book from water damage in the event that the package comes in contact with rain.
When your book is delivered, be sure to leave feedback for your buyer. In most cases, this should be positive, assuming the sale was uneventful
It can also be useful to offer a flexible return policy for your items, as classes may end up being canceled, or students may choose to switch to other courses. In these situations, being helpful to your buyers can build good will and make them more likely to purchase from you in the future.
When posting your listing, you will have the choice of which shipping methods to offer. Choosing USPS Flat Rate shipping offers the advantage of a fixed price; however, you can also calculate shipping costs based on the item size, weight, and the buyer’s location. Buyers may be in a crunch to get their textbook in time before classes start, so providing the choice of expedited shipping may give your listing greater appeal.
A book should be listed as acceptable if it contains some folded pages and light highlighting or marking.
If there is extensive water damage, heavy highlighting, very damaged binding, or torn and missing pages, the book should be considered unacceptable and should not be sold.
Good natural lighting can often be the best – avoid dim lighting, grainy dark photos, or flash photography. Opt for high-quality digital cameras over cell phone photos.
A flatbed scanner may be able to provide higher-quality images than a camera
Photograph all the essential portions of the book: the front cover, back cover, spine, a selection of pages, and any pages or sections that contain damage or extensive highlighting or marking.
When you’re posting your listing, you’ll first be given the opportunity to search for your textbook within eBay’s catalog of products. In the search field, you can enter your book’s ISBN, or International Standard Book Number. This is a sequence of 10 or 13 digits typically printed above your book’s product bar code, after the word “ISBN”.
If your book is in eBay’s catalog, your listing will automatically be filled in with the book’s title, authors, and a pre-written description and stock photo of the book’s cover. While this is convenient, it’s essential to provide your own photos of your copy of the book, as well as details of its condition.
Gently clean off the cover to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated. It may be worthwhile to locate a new dust jacket for the book if its current dust jacket is worn or damaged.
Be sure to unfold and flatten any folded pages or dog-ears.
If the book originally came with CDs, DVDs or other resources, try to locate those and include them with the book.
This will display auctions for your book that have recently been closed, and the selling price of the book.
Alternately, if there are no results for your specific textbook, you can search for the names and editions of similar textbooks that are used in some of the same classes as your book. As you read through these successful listings, pay attention to the details, such as how the listing title and description were written, and how the item photos were shot.