Friday, 15 May 2009

From a seller's perspective -

Advantages: From a seller's perspective, few and far between

Disadvantages: Huge fees

Amazon is widely known as being a source for buying your reading material. 

It is also a venue for selling books, and this is mainly what this review will look at. So although I will be looking at the seller's perspective, it would be well worth reading this if you buy books from Amazon - you can get stuff cheaper elsewhere (no not ebay!) 

It would also be nice if the buyer had an insight into the struggles of a bookseller. Unfortunately the image of the bookseller is that we all live the charmed lives of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, or live in the charming world that was 84 Charing Cross Road. 

If that was the case, would we really be sat at a PC writing reviews at 50 pence a time? 

There are two ways you can sell through Amazon. Either as a Marketplace account holder, or as a Merchant Account holder. 

Marketplace is a no fees to list for sixty days. There are seller fees in the region of a whopping 17.25 % plus 86 pence per item - that is a lot. 

I am a Marketplace account holder, so my review will be based upon this experience. 

To start off with - you will not end up with a decent profit (that is a wage - this seems to be forgotten, booksellers need to eat and pay bills too), except on rare items, then again that profit is eaten into with their whopping fees, which means you need to jack the price up to get a decent profit, or take it on the chin - I used to take it on the chin, but do I jack the price up? No. I just list stuff like this on 

You are 'given' a token £2.75 (the customer is charged this amount for P&P ) from Amazon towards postage, although there are also fees that come off this - don't ask me how Amazon work this - it is a Black Art. 

This £2.75, if taken as a given, will not cover books that are over about 500 grams in weight, and will certainly not pay the postage for items that need to go Special Delivery (items worth over £39). Again this is another instance where a seller needs to absorb certain costs, and nine times out of ten the price goes up. You will often find few books on Amazon with a 'market value of between £39 and £50 actually being sold at this price, this is because sellers need to offset the costs of Amazon's ridiculous fees AND the costs of Special Delivery - a conscientious seller will always use the right postage service, even if it means having to absorb the cost. But some items have a value which needs to be collected, so it is only fair the seller tries to claw these back. 

Buyers don't be fooled by cheap postage (ebay are also guilty of a set postage level). The buyer is only going to jack up the price to cover it. From the other perspective, sometimes the buyer is being overcharged for postage on Amazon. 

For a small seller Amazon is way to competitive, there are too many big boys with warehouses full of books to shift. 

Now as a buyer, I hear you say 'so what'? 

Well as a result of Amazon's overblown fees and the inability for sellers to charge the correct amount for postage, as I have stated, sellers just jack the fee up to compensate for this. You are paying more than you need to. Many ex-Amazon sellers and ex-ebay sellers are listing their items on, to cut a long story short, doesn't have the customer base of Amazon or ebay, but it has the sellers. The sellers are also offering realistic prices and fair P&P because it is free to list forever, there are no, or very minimal final value fees (2% to 3% depending on account level you have chosen). sellers are savvy to the fact that they can attract customers with cheaper prices, and as it does not yet have a huge buyer-customer base, there is rarely a bidding war - you can generally get stuff at a very decent start price.

Another aspect of Amazon you need to consider when buying is that the Marketplace seller has to rely on Amazon's database of books in order to be able to sell - if the book isn't on Amazon's database when the seller comes to sell it, what hope has the buyer of finding it. 

The days of Amazon being a quick stop purchase shop have gone now, especially as all sellers elsewhere are putting their faith in Google Checkout as a very instant payment method. 

I am sticking with from now on.

Summary: Why bother selling (or buying) here? There are cheaper alternatives for buyer and seller.

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