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Selling Your Book on Amazon, Ebay, or Alibris? Compare Fees and Policies First

If you want to sell your old textbook or other book, you’ve probably considered listing it on popular sites such as Amazon, Ebay, and Alibris. Each can prove to be an excellent medium for connecting booksellers to buyers, and each implements its own fees and policies for retail book sales. As a private seller, it behooves you to fully understand those fees and policies before deciding which site you’ll sell your old books on. By doing so, you’ll be able to sell your books at the highest price, avoid unexpected fees, and anticipate associated shipping costs as well as the potential for returns. The following details fees and policies for selling books on Amazon, Ebay, and Alibris.

Listing fees

The first, and perhaps most obvious, comparison to make is book listing fees for Amazon, Ebay, and Alibris.

Amazon book listing fees

Amazon offers two different ways to sell books: individual listings and professional seller listings. In addition, Amazon offers two order fulfillment models: individual fulfillment and Amazon fulfillment. As professional seller accounts and Amazon fulfillment are the domains of retail businesses, this article will focus on fees associated with individual fees and fulfillment; that is to say, the assumption is made that you have a single book (or a limited number of books) to sell and do not intend to operate a full-time retail business on Amazon.

Books fall under the “media” category on Amazon. When you list a book for sale, you will not be charged an immediate listing fee. Rather, you will be charged the total of three fees once your book has sold:

● Fixed per-item closing fee: $0.99
● Variable closing fee: $1.80
● Referral fee: 15% of the retail price

You can learn more about Amazon seller pricing here.

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Ebay book listing fees

Like Amazon, Ebay has pro seller tools; here, we’re assuming you’ll be selling a single book and not setting up a retail business on Ebay. Ebay likewise considers books to be media.

● Your first 50 listings per month on Ebay are free. After 50 listings in a given month, book listing fees are $.05 each for fixed price sales, $0.30 each for auction-style sales
● Ebay also charges 10% of the total sale price, which is a combination of your book retail price, shipping fees charged to the buyer, and any listing upgrades (such as gallery promotions, bold listings, and reserve prices)

You can calculate your actual Ebay book listing fees here.

Alibris book listing fees

Alibris offers two programs for sellers: Basic and Gold. Under the Basic program, you pay a $19.99 annual fee for up to 1,000 listings. Once an item sells, you’ll be charged a $1 transaction fee plus 15% commission, with a minimum commission of 50 cents and a maximum of $60 per item.

The Gold program, designed for professional sellers, lets you sell an unlimited number of books and includes a customized storefront. Setup fees are $19.99, and a flat monthly fee is charged based on your average number of listings per month (starting at $20 for up to 2,000 listings and capping at $400 for more than 500,000 listings). There are no transaction fees, but commissions are the same as the Basic program: 15%, with a minimum of 50 cents and a maximum of $60 per item.

Both programs allow you to sell on the Alibris partner network, which includes Barnes & Noble, Ebay, Books-A-Million, and others. If your book sells on the partner network, you’ll pay a 20% commission or 25 cents, whichever is greater.

Alibris Basic FeesAlibris Gold Fees
Annual Fee$19.99None
Setup FeeNone$19.99
Transaction Fee$1None
Commission15%, min. 50 cents, max. $60/item15%, min. 50 cents, max. $60/item
Monthly FeesNone$20 to $400, depending on average monthly listings

You can learn more about Alibris seller pricing here.




Shipping

Shipping is another important consideration to make when selling your book online. You need to know who pays for shipping and how it impacts your final profit.

Amazon shipping policy
Amazon sets shipping fees for all individual sellers, based on shipping type and media category. When your book sells, Amazon will charge the buyer a set shipping price and then pass that portion of the sale to you, the seller, to help cover shipping expenses (called a “shipping reimbursement”). For books, Amazon charges the following shipping fees:

● Domestic Standard: $3.99
● Domestic Expedited: $6.99
● Two-Day Domestic: $11.98
● One-Day Domestic: $17.98
● Standard International: $16.95 (up to one pound), $23.95 (over one pound)
● Expedited International: $44.95

Ebay shipping policy
Ebay allows you to set your own shipping rates, payable by the buyer. You have three options for selling your books:

● Free shipping (add shipping to the price, or simply ship your book for free)
● Flat shipping (set a flat shipping rate to any destination)
● Calculated shipping (have Ebay automatically calculate your shipping rate based on your location and the book’s destination)

Note that some products have a maximum shipping cost. Textbooks, fiction books, and non-fiction books are all limited to a maximum fee of $4 for shipping.

Alibris shipping policy

Alibris charges buyers for shipping according to preset shipping fees, then passes those shipping fees to the buyer – less a variable closing fee ($1.60 for most books).

Basic shipping fees (paid by the buyer) are:

  • Standard (4-14 days): $3.99 for the first book, $2.99 for each additional item
  • Trackable Expedited (3-8 days): $7.99 for the first book, $5.99 for each additional item
  • Two-Day Air (2 days): $14.99 for the first book, $11.99 for each additional item

Thus, if you sold one book with standard shipping, you would be given a $3.99 shipping credit, less the $1.60 variable fee, for a net of $2.39.

Alibris offers additional shipping options that require tracking and delivery confirmation. You can optionally ship books directly to their warehouse, and high-volume sellers can ship via Alibris’ UPS account. Learn more about Alibris shipping.

Getting paid

Now for the fun part: getting paid. Before you choose which site to sell your used book on, it’s a good idea to know when and how you will be compensated for your sale.

Getting paid on Amazon
Once the buyer completes the sale and Amazon verifies the transaction, your money will be deposited in your Amazon Payments Account. From there, you can withdraw funds to a verified bank account or an Amazon gift card. Learn more about Amazon Payments Account withdrawal methods here.

Getting paid on Ebay
The way you get paid on Ebay is dependent on the payment options you offer buyers. For most listings, you are required to offer PayPal, credit card, and debit card payments. Additional payment options are available for some categories. As an individual seller, it’s likely you will offer PayPal payments.

Once the buyer has completed the sale and Ebay has verified the transaction, your funds will be deposited into your PayPal account. From there, you can withdraw funds to a verified bank account. Note that PayPal fees will apply.

Learn more about Ebay payment options here. Learn more about PayPal fees here.

Getting paid on Alibris

Alibris offers payment by check and direct deposit (first payments are always via check). Checks are sent on the last Friday of each month for books shipped through the Saturday two weeks prior. Direct deposit payments are submitted on the first and third Fridays of each month for books shipped through the Saturday two weeks prior.

Learn more about how Alibris pays on its Seller Policies and Procedures page.

What happens when a buyer returns your book?

While most book sales conducted on Amazon, Ebay, and Alibris are successful one-time transactions, it is possible for a buyer to return your book. Before you choose which site to sell your used book on, it’s a good idea to compare return policies and anticipate any potential fees associated with returns.

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Amazon book return policy
Amazon requires sellers to abide by its return policies, but also allows you the flexibility to customize your return policy so long as it satisfies the conditions of its “base” return policy. Key points to consider include:

● Amazon will notify you if the buyer’s reason for return does not warrant a refund per Amazon’s policies
● If the buyer returns your book in worse condition than you sent it, you can issue a partial refund
● If the buyer simply does not want the book and returns it in the same condition, you can refund the price but choose to not refund the shipping fees
● The buyer is responsible for paying shipping and handling charges associated with returns; however, you have the option of covering those fees

Learn more about Amazon’s seller return policy here.

Ebay book return policy
Ebay allows you to decide whether you will accept returns or not, as well as who is responsible for return shipping fees. Learn more about setting your Ebay return policy here.

Alibris book return policy

By default, Alibris allows customers to return books within 60 days of shipment (75 days for international customers) for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Discretionary (they changed their mind)
  • Item doesn’t match description
  • Item is incomplete or incorrect
  • Item is illegal
  • Item is priced at more than $100

If a buyer opts for a discretionary return (they changed their mind), sellers can charge up to a 10% restocking fee (note: if the book was sold via an Alibris partner, it might not be eligible for a restocking fee). Sellers can opt out of discretionary returns via their account settings.

Once a returned item is received, sellers should refund the buyer. Learn more about Alibris returns and refunds.

Real-world comparison: Selling a $10 book

How does all this translate to the real world? The following demonstrates actual costs and profits associated with selling a book for $10 and $20, respectively on Amazon, Ebay, and Alibris. Here, we will assume that shipping credits/reimbursements are equal to actual shipping fees.

Amazon

  • Book Price: $10
  • Total Fees: $0.99 (per item fee) + $1.80 (variable closing fee) + $1.50 (15% referral fee) = $4.29
  • Total Profit: $5.71

Ebay

  • Book Price: $10
  • Total Fees: $1.40 (final value fee with estimated $3.99 shipping to buyer) + $0.59 (estimated PayPal fee) = $1.99
  • Total Profit: $8.01

Note: Ebay listing upgrades like bold text and subtitles cost extra.

Alibris

  • Book Price: $10
  • Total Fees: $1 (transaction fee) + $1.50 (commission) + $1.60 (closing fee with estimated $3.99 shipping to buyer) = $4.10
  • Total Profit: $5.90

Note that in order to sell on Alibris, you’ll need to pay the $19.99 annual fee – which means it’s not a good option unless you have multiple books to sell.

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Real-world comparison II: Selling a $20 book

What happens when you increase the price to $20?

Amazon

  • Book Price: $20
  • Total Fees: $0.99 (per item fee) + $1.80 (variable closing fee) + $3 (15% referral fee) = $5.79
  • Total Profit: $14.21

Ebay

  • Book Price: $20
  • Total Fees: $2.40 (final value fee with estimated $3.99 shipping to buyer) + $0.88 (estimated PayPal fee) = $3.28
  • Total Profit: $16.72

Note: Ebay listing upgrades like bold text and subtitles cost extra.

Alibris

  • Book Price: $20
  • Total Fees: $1 (transaction fee) + $3 (commission) + $1.60 (closing fee with estimated $3.99 shipping) = $5.60
  • Total Profit: $14.40

Note that in order to sell on Alibris, you’ll need to pay the $19.99 annual fee – which means it’s not a good option unless you have multiple books to sell.

Should you sell your book on Amazon, Ebay, or Alibris?

Though we’ve provided examples for total profits based on each site’s fees and policies, it should be noted that these are simply estimates and cannot account for all potential fees, actual shipping prices, or unique circumstances that would alter final fees. Moreover, different prices and variable pricing can affect your total profit. In addition, other options, including Direct Textbook and Flipsy.com, might offer greater profits than the three sites covered in this article. Ultimately, it’s up to you to compare your options and ensure the greatest profits by making an informed choice for your specific situation.




 

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