Yes, sometimes it seems we're in a race to the bottom, competing to find book buyers before they find a lower price. But there's a reason why certain titles are listed for a penny: Not enough people want the book.
Don't you wish you could flip this around? Wouldn't you like to find the books other sellers don't have? Instead of lowering your prices, wouldn't you like to raise prices and let the buyers compete? Add the right books to your inventory, and you'll find buyers virtually lined up, credit cards ready.
One tool you can use for this is Amazon's Buyers Waiting list. More than 2,000 buyers join it every day, but these aren't your Dad's book collectors. These buyers are looking for stuff you've never heard of:
German-Americans in the World Wars by Tolzmann - one buyer will pay $1,500.
Introduction to the Physics of Nuclear Weapons Effects by Bridgman - wanted for $1,000.
There's even a self-published book near the top of the list: Such Things are Known by Dorothy Burdick. Four buyers will pay an average of $1,240 for this 1983 vanity press book.
And another four buyers will pay an average of $2,000 for Sumo, a coffee-table book that comes with its own coffee table.
Amazon's Buyers Waiting list totals about 50,000 orders from Amazon customers who all have a wish: that someone - anyone - will list their favorite book for sale on Amazon at an acceptable price and condition. You can view this list of orders by downloading a spreadsheet from Amazon after entering your Pro-Merchant ID and password here.
If you don't have an Amazon seller account, you can view the list on my website.
I've sorted the list by price, highest to lowest, but orders priced under $25 aren't shown; there are just too many. Buyers place these orders after visiting an Amazon product page and, seeing the book is unavailable (or at least unavailable at the desired price), clicking the "Order it used" button.
In the pre-Internet era, book dealers kept "want lists." Most of their sales were generated from rare-book catalogs that were printed and mailed out every so often. Don't bother printing Amazon's Buyers Waiting list. Even if you had enough paper, the list would be obsolete by the time your printer warmed up. Every minute of every day, new orders arrive and old ones expire unfilled (usually after 90 days).
During my first few years of selling used books on Amazon, I was lucky enough to come home with several books on the list, totally by accident, from my trips to library sales, estates sales and used bookshops. I'd discover the order after listing the book and clicking the "Sell Yours Here" button.
Unfortunately, there's no way for a seller to contact a waiting buyer - that is, there's no opportunity to negotiate - so you've got to map your strategy as soon as you know you've stumbled onto some waiting buyers. For example, let's say today you're listing a copy of the 1973 book Strength of Biological Materials by Yamada. After clicking the "Sell Yours Here" button, you see an orange box, shouting "BUYER WAITING!" After a brief joyous dance, you then notice the message: "Average pending pre-order price (based on your condition) $270."
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Questions or comments?
Questions or comments?