Selling on eBay

by Craig Stark

15 March 2010

How to Use Videos in eBay Auctions

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We've been discussing the negative impact of media digitization on bookselling for some time now, but what about the looking at it from the opposite direction? Is there a potential positive impact? More specifically, can other media formats be used to help us market our books? Well, why not? Most of us are already using several formats - digitized text and photographs. What about video?

What appeals to me about video is its potential for building additional trust into your listings. If you included a brief video of a book, showing it from all angles inside and out, and perhaps shot a close-up of selected content (like a table of contents), wouldn't that give a potential buyer more confidence in you? A better idea of what was being offered?

Several weeks ago, with this idea in mind, I looked into what would be involved in posting a video in an eBay auction and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was both simple and free - not to mention fast.

First, I shot a 1:37 video of a book that possessed some significant condition issues but was uncommon enough to hold at least some value potential. Many digital cameras have video capability now (though in some cases you'll need to upgrade your card to shoot anything longer than a few seconds), and the resolution is high enough to get the job done. I use a Canon PowerShot A650 IS, which saves videos in an upload-ready .avi format.

The following is the result - raw footage from the camera:

Two things will be immediately apparent: One, I'm far from a gifted filmmaker, and two, this is a YouTube video. The process couldn't be easier. Register an account, click the "Upload Video" button, select a file from your hard drive, and a few minutes later it's up. Next, bring up your video on YouTube (there may be delay before it's available), select and copy the code in the "Embed" box in the upper right hand corner, and paste it anywhere you like in your eBay listing HTML.

Now, as I mentioned, this was raw footage. In the coming months I'll be experimenting with editing my videos, attempting to improve output, also, perhaps, adding text, sound, etc., where appropriate. It might also be helpful to include a few seconds at the end demonstrating how books will be packaged for shipping. And who knows what else. I'll report back with results.

At this stage of the game, I have no idea if this will improve sell-through or final values, but I'll also attempt to assess this over time. Meanwhile, I would appreciate your feedback on how I might improve my video skills! And any other ideas for content. If you're already doing this, I'd be especially interested in hearing from you. Email me at

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