As part of my experiments in entrepreneurship, I decided to try out selling used books online. I like books, and am happy to keep a small library of my favourite titles in order to reread, give to friends, or resell.
I checked out Toronto Reference Library’s bookstore, focusing on donated hardcover business books that had never been in circulation and limiting it further to books that I had liked.
Listing my books on Amazon was quick and easy. I described the condition and picked a price in the neighbourhood of the other sellers.
After two weeks, I received an e-mail telling me that someone had bought one of my books: Dan and Chip Heath’s Made to Stick, an excellent book on how to make ideas more memorable. I wrapped the book in bubble wrap and dropped it off at the post office as soon as the store opened on Monday.
Here’s where the wrinkle is: Canada Post is expensive. Let’s break the transaction down.
|Price of book||CAD $10.50|
|Amazon fees||CAD $-3.31|
|Shipping credit||CAD $6.49|
|Actual shipping cost (regular parcel, no insurance)||CAD $-13.71|
|Cost of book||CAD $-1|
Net: $-1.03, not including packing costs and time. (“That’s all right, we’ll make it up in volume!” as the joke goes…)
There are probably cheaper ways to ship, but I can’t imagine that they would be drastically better, or result in anything close to minimum wage.
On the plus side, I got a blog post out of it, so that’s not too bad. I’ve increased the price on the other book I listed, but I don’t mind not selling it either – the benefits of picking books I like anyway.
Selling books online might work fine in the US and other countries with inexpensive postal systems, but probably not here. I think my future experiments will focus on things that don’t need to be physically shipped! =)