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One of the neat things about leaving questions as questions is that it seems to shut one’s down thinking and increase one’s awareness of what’s happening around you - and sometimes what's happening around you can be pretty enlightening. One of the first things I noticed after posing my question was that almost everybody lowered prices in December, not just booksellers but everybody. Then, I felt something relax in me.

Another thing I noticed (or, rather, had been noticing for some months): eBay auctions were in decline. I had personally cut back my auction activity severely in the previous year, and when I did auction books, it was stubbornly - starting them at fairly ambitious opens. For years, eBay auctions had been my bread-and-butter, but no more. I had come to rely heavily on fixed-price sales on multiple venues.

Well, the next time I sat down to put together some auction listings, I was still in this relaxed state of mind (about pricing), and, instead of putting in high opens, I started almost everything at under $10 and let 'em rip - oh, and in about half the cases, I also included an ambitious BIN.

Two things happened almost immediately. The first was that two of this group of books sold quickly at my BIN prices. And the second (and more important) thing that happened: For the first time since I could remember I actually watched my auctions, daily - and it was fun! I'd forgotten how much fun it was to watch things get bid up. This had the additional effect of inspiring me to put even more auctions up, and before I knew it, I had more active eBay auctions running than I'd had in years. I not only felt revived but fully engaged in my business again, and stuff that had been collecting dust on my shelves because I'd sort of written it off as not quite worth bothering with was now, once again, starting to look as though it had value.

Something else. A few of my items did close out at mildly disappointing prices, but the majority of them exceeded my expectations. One particular auction closed at over $500 more than I thought it would! It's always difficult to explain these things, but in tough economic times buyers do look for bargains, and auctions with low starting bids very much are bargains - until they get bid up, that is. But even when they get bid up, the bidder's sense of getting a bargain often remains because it's the bidders who are setting the price, dictating the outcome, not the seller.

Whatever the reason, my question was answered. At the end of the first three weeks in January, I'd already doubled what I made in December, and it hasn't slowed down in the week since. Even my fixed-price sales are up some. Of course, everybody's situation is different, but I thought it might be useful to share my experience with you. If you've written off eBay auctions, they might be worth a second look now.

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