The Value of Time and Space


I haven't sold used books in years.

Once upon a time, I had success with But eBay acquired, and after the appropriate mourning period, first suggested and then demanded that I transfer my account to eBay and sell my stock using auction-style listings. This required much time and effort.

I refused. I simply emptied my entire online inventory, and stopped selling; eBay notified me days later that they couldn't believe how they'd offended long-time users. They'd let me keep selling the old way. Too late. I still own most of that deleted stock.

Yet space limitations require that I now eliminate some of my books. Translation: our apartment is packed, and I must choose which books to donate to the library or sell, sell, sell! I used to sell books worth at least $5, and give away anything below the price floor; the going market rate for the rest was usually in the dollar to two dollar range, some down to a cool 1¢ (with the real money being made in the way-too-high shipping allowance). But being a low-volume seller of low-price books meant going to the post office to earn a dollar; so I would just donate them in bulk.

Now I've decided to sell off some of my books by becoming an Amazon Merchant. I was confident I'd sell many of my books because I follow two rules: I 1) keep my books in excellent condition, 2) undersell the lowest comparable used copy by 50¢ to $1.

So far, in twelve hours, I've sold 3 of the first 8 books I put up for sale -- all recent, popular, non-fiction titles. Now, this high volume tells me that I might have to rethink my inventory price floor; If I'm already going to the post office regularly, why not include the cheap books, and make a few extra dollars?

But then I remember that the point is to get rid of books I've read, will not reference, and will not read again; the point is to clear up space with minimal expense of time, not to maximize revenue on book sales; the point is MAX(U), not MAX(Π).


Is there a way to find your complete listing on Amazon? Could you possibly email it to the address below?

I've been pretty busy, and not had time to add more books. Here is the storefront:

Excellent post! I love reading the thought processes behind other people's business decisions.

Another alternative to selling your books is to donate them to the troops in Iraq. They are hungry for books. One of the problems with the military is short bursts of life threatening excitement followed by periods of almost terminal boredom. I can tell you from experience that books, of any kind on any subject, help a lot.

Go to for info on how to send books to a troop.

I get free Flat-Rate Priorty Mail boxes from the USPO. These are the size of a large shoebox. I then take down books that I know I am unlikely to read or reference again, and fit as many as I can in the box.

Postage is $7.95 regardless of weight. (Unless it went up with first class a couple weeks back)

Sounds like a pretty good deal for all concerned. regardless of what one my think of the war, Bush or anything else, the troops deserve our support if we can make their lives better/easier in any way.

In addition to making their lives easier, my wife is happy with fewer books stacked up all over the house and that makes *my* life easier.



Fantastic idea! MAX(U), not MAX(Π)!



Can I have your email address (by emailing me)? I want to send you a request. Thanks

Warm regards,



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This page contains a single entry by Kevin published on June 11, 2007 12:00 PM.

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