Amazon Marketplace: a necessary evil?

My wife and I are moving back to the UK soon, and we’re trying to get rid various things we no longer need. In particular, I’ve resorted to selling some excess books on Amazon Marketplace, a process about which I have mixed feelings.

Amazon Logo

On the one hand, Amazon is a great place for a buyer to find your books. After all, everybody who wants a book goes there. They’re the first website on every book purchaser’s list, and they know it.

Unfortunately, Amazon’s unparalleled popularity gives them leeway to exploit would-be sellers. Although they don’t charge to list an item, the selling fees are frustratingly high: for a $6.49 book, I was charged $3.31; for a $4.99 book, I was charged $3.09. In most cases, Amazon makes more money from the sale of my books than I do.

Amazon’s hefty charges are made all the more annoying by the fixed shipping credits they award you. The book’s size and weight aren’t taken into consideration when calculating the shipping credit, so whether your book weighs five ounces or two pounds, you’ll receive $3.99 towards the cost of mailing it. Most of the books I’ve sold weigh around 13 ounces, and each one has cost around $5.50 to put in an envelope and ship, so a $3.99 credit hardly seems adequate.

The fixed costs associated with selling on Amazon are such that if you want to sell a book for less than $4, you would be better off giving it away. I’ve had to refrain from selling some heavier books as I’d actually lose money from shipping them.

Complaints aside, I’ll continue to sell my unwanted books on Amazon: after all, the books have to go somewhere. Despite being a terrible money-making venture (at least for me), it’s been a great help with clearing the shelves for our move. Next time I need to sell a bunch of books, though, I’ll check my prospects on eBay.