The Kind of Bookseller EBay Now Wants Forces You To Be

by Craig Stark

#113, 4 February 2008

Is It Such a Terrible Thing?

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I'm not going to talk too much about the numbers today. You know what they are. You know that it's likely going to cost you more to sell books on eBay in 2008 than it did in 2007. But this happens every year. And, every year, booksellers bemoan fee increases, some stop selling on eBay, others call for a boycott, etc. - surely you know the routine by now. And then everything settles down until the following year.

Yes, there are things you can do to offset this, and you should do whatever you can. Here are 15 suggestions we published last year after the Stores fees increase, some of which may still be useful.

Notice that the first 14 have nothing to do with what you're selling, only how you're selling it. Only number 15 - the most important suggestion of all - addresses inventory:

15. SELL BETTER BOOKS. The booksellers most adversely affected by this fee increase and, for that matter, many other annoying, nickel-and-dime increases venues make from time to time, are those who sell at the low end. These sellers are doubly hurt by this recent increase because competition continues to heat up in the $10-and-under sector of the market and most are experiencing fewer profitable sales. However, here's a central bookselling truth: So many problems fade into near extinction once you begin to look for and sell better books. If you don't, almost every single negative change in the marketplace will be magnified in your business. Also, in the long run, it isn't just a matter of selling better books; it's important to continuously upgrade your inventories. Sell even better books next year. Even better the next. What this enables you to do is not only stay ahead of fee increases, etc., but also enjoy an increase in net income - and not feel as inclined to vent on forums every time, for example, USPS raises their Media Mail rates.

So, if you took this last suggestion seriously, the fee increases won't hurt you at all, and that leaves nothing more to talk about - almost. This time, however, there are a surprising number of additional changes that I believe will change the landscape of eBay bookselling forever, perhaps dramatically.

Before I get into details, here's my take on this: The changes made in pricing, seller standards, the Powerseller program, PayPal and feedback all are weighted, sometimes heavily, in favor of the bookseller BookThink has been urging you to become - the bookseller who sells higher-dollar books and adheres to the highest standards in presentation of inventory and fulfillment. Become this bookseller, and you win.

Ok, first, here's the biggie for most of us: Insertion fees for Store items in the $25.00 to $199.99 range have been CUT IN HALF. If most of your inventory falls into this range, you'll experience a dramatic drop in monthly fees - and if most of it doesn't fall into this range, you should be working hard to get it there (see above). Also, this plays into the hand of booksellers with uncommon or scarce titles that take some time to find buyers.

Next, final value fees for Auctions, Fixed-Priced listings and Store items in the $25.01 to $1,000.00 range are going up, but the increases are generally more punitive in the $1 to $25 range. This puts pressure on the bookseller you don't want to be.

Also, if you're a PowerSeller with DSR ratings 4.8 or higher, look what happens to a $100 auction sale after applying the 15% discount:


Insertion fee: $2.40
Gallery feature fee: $.35 Final value fee: $3.74
Total: $6.49


Insertion fee: $2.00
Gallery feature fee: $.00
Final value fee: $4.80 (x .85 = $4.08)
Total: $6.08


Now consider what happens to that same $100 book sold from a Store inside of one month:


Insertion fee: $.10
Gallery feature fee: $.01
Final value fee: $5.25
Total: $5.36


Insertion fee: $.05
Gallery feature fee: $.00
Final value fee: $9.00 (x .85 = $7.65)
Total: $7.70

Yes, this is a significant increase, but keep in mind that the reduction in insertion fees applies to your entire Store inventory. Let's say your inventory consists of 1,000 $100 books - your monthly insertion fee total will be $50, a savings of $50 over the present fee. Subtract $5.36 from $7.70 ($2.34) and divide the answer into $50. You would need to sell 22 books in a month's time to experience a fee increase.

Finally, reserve fees for items in the $0.01 to $49.99 range are going up. Those in the $50 and up range will remain unchanged.

Conclusion: If you achieve/maintain PowerSeller status, maintain DSR ratings of 4.8 or better, and sell higher-dollar books, your total fees will almost certainly go down.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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