Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2012 Issue

Tips from an eBay Power Seller

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The mark of an eBay Power Seller.

Here’s my little secret: I’m an eBay Power Seller.

I find that amazing. It’s 2012 and I’ve been selling on eBay since 1998. That’s 14 years of taking pictures, writing descriptions, shipping vintage and antiquarian books, prints, maps and ephemera all over the world. It’s all at eBay, only at eBay, just that one site. The tools are simple, an internet connection, a digital camera and assorted packing supplies. I never dreamed when I started I’d still be doing it well into the 21st century.

I’m not the biggest Power Seller, nor am I the smartest and I’m certainly not a Power Seller who made a fortune or started an empire. But year-in and year-out for over a decade eBay has been a reliable source of income for me.

I guarantee you I’ve learned a thing or two.

Doing the research: Try ADDall

The first step to making a profit is setting the price and doing the research.

When I’m thinking of listing a book or a book related item there are several ways to find out what it might be worth:

There are zillions of book bases. The one I use is ADDall.

I use ADDall because it is an aggregator of bases and it includes the listings from ABE, Alibris and Amazon, as well as dozens of other book listing sites.

True, it sometime doesn’t give me every last item, but it gives enough results to know in a click if a title is common or scarce, or if there are big variations in price.

On ADDall I set my results to come up listed by price in descending order. As a seller your question is: “Does someone know something about this book that justifies a higher price?”

Always a Reason:

Value is not random. To get more you have to know more. The people who have specialized knowledge often state it in their listing and price accordingly.

Is this an unusual variant? Is this signed or limited? Is it a companion to something else? Is there something unique laid in? A photo? A letter?

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Adam Smith, <i>Wealth of Nations,</i> first edition, descended from William Alexander, London, 1776. $70,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> George Gershwin, photograph signed & inscribed with autograph musical quotation, <i>An American in Paris,</i> 1928. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Friedrich Engels, <i>The Condition of the Working Class in England,</i> first edition, NY, 1887. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> <i>Bury St. Edmunds Witch Trials,</i> first edition, London, 1682. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Robert Rey, <i>Estampes,</i> complete portfolio of 12 wood engravings, Paris, 1950. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Archive of 47 letters by Enrico Caruso to a lady friend, 1906-20. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Books of Hours in Flemish, Netherlands, 15th century. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Jack Kerouac, <i>Doctor Sax,</i> deluxe limited edition, signed, NY, 1959. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Walt Disney, signature on title-page of Ward Greene’s <i>Lady and the Tramp,</i> first edition, first printing. $3,000 to $4,000.

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