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Qualifying for the PowerSeller program isn't difficult.

There's more good news for PowerSellers:

"PayPal will no longer require that PowerSellers ship to confirmed addresses for items sold on eBay. Every address in the PayPal system will be considered a confirmed address for PowerSellers.

"For PowerSellers there will no longer be an annual $5,000 limit on seller protection...you'll have unlimited protection coverage.

"Also starting in February - seller protection will be extended to cover transactions with buyers in many markets around the world (instead of only to US, Canada and the UK). Now PowerSellers can sell with confidence to a much larger group of buyers."

Note also that sellers with excellent DSRs will now be given priority in eBay's "Best Match" searches.

Perhaps the most hotly debated change has nothing to do with pricing. Starting in May, sellers will no longer be able to leave negative feedback for buyers. Based on forum chatter during the past week, it's clear that most booksellers have a big problem with this. For the first time in eBay's history, buyers need no longer fear feedback retaliation from sellers and may neg them with impunity. True, some disincentives to leaving negative feedback will be put in place, but most sellers believe that they'll now be at the mercy of buyers, if not held hostage, also that maintaining DSR levels at 4.8 or higher will be nearly impossible under this new system.

To these sellers I would say this: Consider the Amazon Marketplace system. Though Amazon's is somewhat different than eBay's, buyers need not be concerned with retaliatory feedback notwithstanding. Yes, sellers can leave negative feedback if they choose to, but it has no measurable impact on buyers because it's not counted against their seller ratings (assuming they are sellers as well as buyers). Despite this, many, many sellers are able to maintain perfect 5-star ratings. How? Simple. They bust their tails to represent their products accurately and provide outstanding customer service. Buyers aren't out to get us, you see. Treat them right, and you'll be rewarded with positive feedback and repeat business.

For me, Amazon's feedback system is a positive influence in my own bookselling - a strong incentive to be the best bookseller I can be. Conversely, sellers who fall short on performance will not only suffer poor sales but likely wake up one morning to a closed account. Amazon has become increasingly quick to pull the trigger on underperforming sellers. To some, this system is overly biased in favor of buyers, but my thinking is that it's just this buyer-friendly approach that contributes to Amazon's success. eBay's feedback changes, in my opinion, will prove similarly positive, though some tinkering along the way may be necessary to get it right.

Other changes are detailed here.

Bookseller Keith Wease - http://www.keithwease.com/ - has produced a series of charts analyzing the fees changes and has graciously granted permission for us to reproduce them here. These charts are formulated on the basis of midpoints and highpoints for each of the price ranges and include all three selling formats - Auctions, Fixed Price and Stores - along with some additional parameters.

Click here for charts.

Some final thoughts. Gold Edition subscribers received issue #46 last week - Part I of "How to Establish a Trusted Internet Bookselling Presence," and I think that it's apropos to this discussion. Have you evaluated your own presence lately - particularly from a buyer's perspective? It's clear to me that more booksellers than not exude anything but a trusted presence. eBay's changes will begin a process of forcing at least some of their hands, shining a brighter and brighter light on poor performance. Let's give it a chance to work.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As a special incentive to upgrade your seller performance, BookThink would like to offer issue #46 free of charge to all new Gold Edition subscribers during the month of February. Subscribe here, and issue #46 will be emailed to you ASAP.

Want to read more articles by
BookThink's Editor in Chief Craig Stark?
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