Got a Question?

It’s awesome!

I’m getting questions each day on a variety of topics regarding reselling/vintage items/bookselling.   I feel bad because sometimes I don’t get to them as quickly as I would like. So…today I’ll be around..so if you have a question…ask away in the comment section.  If I don’t know the answer…I’ll let you know that too…or direct you where you might find an answer.

I can answer with some confidence on the following: reselling, bookselling, Ebay,  a range of vintage items, setting up a small online business, Paypal, thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, and estate sales.

Things I don’t know well: nuclear physics, algebra (I and II), any episode of “Lost”, automotive repair, or the benefits of regular exercise.

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22 Responses to Got a Question?

  1. shannon says:

    I sent a question via email the other day..but I’m sure the actual question was buried in my ramblings. lol. 🙂
    It was this…how do you determine the ‘value’ of the books you find? The books that look like nothing…is it like any item we sell? Just research all the sites where books sell and see what it’s going for? Or is one site THE authority?
    Thanks!
    shan

    • latenightcoffee says:

      First…I’m sorry if I overlooked your question…yikes!

      This is probably going to be clear as mud…but its the system I use. I personally don’t use one site as an authority as there are so many factors to consider.

      Okay…here’s what I do when I get home with a book(s). I look it up on Amazon first. That let’s me know if its out in the “general masses”. Amazon is the largest bookseller…so it gives me a feel its rare or run of the mill. If I find it….I look at the price it is listed for THEN I look it up on Ebay to see if any have actually sold. I then can get a good sense of where I can price the book.

      If I CAN’T find it on Amazon or its sold out….I look for it on Abebooks.com. If I still can’t find it I look on Addall.com.

      If I CAN find it on either of those two sites…I look at how many copies are on those sites and at the price then look on Ebay and see if it has sold/or what it is being listed for.

      The fewer copies found is a good thing. I set my price with what is already out there. I generally go a lower as I don’t pay much for my books…and I like a quick nickel.

      If I can’t find it anywhere…I research on Google ..sometimes you can find obscure bookseller sites that have sold the book and it gives the price…I like to find out why its so hard to find too….maybe its just so collectible that it can’t stay on the market…or maybe its just really a very unique book with a unique audience and not many were published. Either way…it’s a valuable book. I try and use similar books if I can’t find the exact one…that doesn’t happen too much though.

      One thing to remember is that some of the prices on the bookselling sites can be really whacked out…..You might find it listed on Amazon for $450.00 but it recently sold for only $75.00 on Ebay. Some booksellers, for whatever reason, tend to inflate prices. Which is why its good to look at two or three sites for your book.

      Condition of book is also an issue for its value….and the edition or printing of the book…if its signed…is it hardcover or paperback?……all things to consider when placing a value. But I feel the most important….what the market WILL pay.

      I hope this helps a little….

  2. Laurie says:

    In your experience have you found that eBay is the best site for you to resell vintage items? I’m thinking about opening a shop on etsy and was wondering if you’ve ever used that site to sell things? It sounds like etsy’s fees are a little less than eBay, but on the other hand you have to set a firm price for your item, there are no “bidding wars” with etsy. What are your thoughts on the pros/cons between the two?
    Thanks!

    • latenightcoffee says:

      I sell vintage items on Etsy. I use it to sell my vintage things that are more “artsy” or “kitschy”…things that would appeal to the creative crowd. And things that aren’t real, real valuable. I save those for auctions/fixed price on Ebay.

      If you can afford to let an item sit for a little while….Etsy is the way to go. It’s cheap and easy to list.

      If you are needing some “pronto” cash….and your item is being sought after…..Ebay would be the way to go. Need really fast cash?….Do an auction. But at least five days. Any less and you may not get the whole market you need to make a good profit. Ebay does have higher fees. You can also do “fixed price” on Ebay. Again…bigger market, if you can afford to let it sit you could possibly set a higher price than Etsy. I would do no less than thirty days though on a fixed price/buy it now.

      I have stores on both sites. I know a lot of people do that.

      So basically:
      Etsy: Cheaper, more of creative person/decorating market, might take a little longer,smaller market exposure
      Ebay: More expensive(depending on listing/item), several kinds of markets and larger market exposure, could be faster to get money depending on listing type (auction or fixed price)

      Thanks for your question…let me know if I need to clarify!

  3. Darla says:

    I just recently found your blog. I’d like to dip my toes in the eBay waters but can’t seem to quite do it. Any hints for a beginner?

    BTW, I think you are very generous to post all the information that you have worked to acquire.

    Darla

    • latenightcoffee says:

      It’s my pleasure to help!

      If I were going to start selling on Ebay…I would do the following:
      1) See what your sources are going to be for your inventory and hard/expensive/time consuming to get the needed inventory. Are you selling secondhand items? Making a list of your thrift stores/auction houses/garage sale seasons, etc will help you figure out if that is the way to go. Books? Do you have book sales or libraries that sell books in your area? Crafts? Where would the materials come from and how expensive would it be to make and then sell.

      2)Once you figure out your inventory,get on Ebay and Paypal and set up your accounts. They are VERY user friendly and it would probably take 1 hour tops to do both. These are usually the hardest steps to begin for people…but once you do it….the excitement really starts.

      3) Get a decent digital camera and printer (not top of the line…just reliable). Camera for taking pictures. Printer to print postage so you don’t have to stand in line at the Post Office waiting with packages. Paypal lets you print your shipping labels complete with postage right from their site on every purchase. AND you can hand packages to your mailman if you can’t make it to the post office. BONUS!!!

      4) If you think you are going to do this as a business….get your business license/tax stuff done. Again….check with your county and your state for that info…It sounds daunting..But seriously…its not that bad. It will keep you legit and “Big Brother” happy.

      5) Look at other peoples listings for great ways to set your listings up. I’m not talking plagarizing…but you can see what works and what doesn’t work.

      Those are some good starting points….any more questions…I’m here!

  4. Anne Neill says:

    I would love to hear the answer to Shannon’s question too. I see books all the time and actually have a bunch but so often they aren’t any listed on ebay so I don’t know if they are a woo hoo or a boo hoo. Thanks!

  5. Rebecca says:

    What Anne & Shannon said 🙂

    Where to find values of books…
    Also, I thought I remember hearing about one place to list your books to multiple selling options (eBay; Amazon; etc) and it would end the listing in all places once sold…

    Thanks for the offer to let us ask questions…I may be back, LOL!

    • latenightcoffee says:

      Abebooks.com might be the site you are referring to….You can see multiple options(selling sites) when looking for a book.

      If I didn’t hit on something you need answered in Shannon’s answer…let me know!

      Thanks for writing!

  6. Jessica says:

    I thought of a question, how do you package your books to ship? Does it matter how valuable it is, like do you take extra care the more someone pays for it? Do you just slip them in an envelope, or bubble envelope, or do you do bubble wrap and/or boxes?

    And shipping… I know media mail is so much cheaper, but do you find it gets beat up more that way, or is it fine?

    Thanks!

    • latenightcoffee says:

      On most books, I use a thick cushion of bubble wrap ( enough so I can’t feel the book edges/corners when I press on the bubble wrap firmly) and put it in a 12 x 15″ envelope. On really valuable books, I will place in box instead of envelope…and with the same kind of bubble wrapping.

      Book people are very concerned about edges/corners getting smushed…so I do the same bubble wrap treatment on all the books I send out.

      Media mail may take longer…and I don’t recommend it around the holidays(after December 10) or if someone needs it quickly…but for most books…people do prefer it because it is a lot cheaper. Especially on big “lots” of books. I have not noticed that it gets more wear than parcel post.

      And while on the subject of shipping….it definitely pays to research a good cheap supplier of bubble wrap/boxes/tape. I have a local manufacturer that I get bubble wrap for $5.00 a roll. I get my boxes for free from my husband’s office or if I have to…I go to Walmart early when they are stocking and walk around with a cart grabbing up the boxes.

      Good question! Let me know if I need to clarify anything!

  7. shannon says:

    Thanks! That helps a lot. Kinda what my instinct was telling me…but good to have reinforcement. I have to check out those sites a bit closer.

  8. Shirley Wall says:

    I recently started reading your blog and LOVE IT! It is so full of info, thank you for sharing your knowledge. I just started selling on Ebay and I was wondering, do you have Paypal deposit directly into your bank account? I know this is a very basic question but I was just wondering if you have ever had any problems with Paypal. Also, my 2nd question, if your item doesn’t sell on Ebay do you keep it and relist it? Once, twice, or…..? Or if it doesn’t sell does it go into the donation bag. Thanks so much! Shirley

    • latenightcoffee says:

      Hi! I’m so glad you like the blog…thanks!

      I do have Paypal deposit directly in my bank account and seriously….in the years I have been on Ebay, Etsy, and using it for our class reunion this past spring…I have had NO problems with it. Honestly.I have had close to 10,000 transactions…so that says a lot. One thing I plan to do soon is get a Paypal debit card…so I don’t have to wait the couple of days before the money “hits” my bank account and for the convenience of having a “business expense” card. But…bottom line…I like Paypal.

      I have a store on Ebay…if an item doesn’t sell….it automatically gets relisted. I periodically “remove” items that have not gotten a lot of attention in say 6-9 months. When I didn’t have a store, I would relist an item once. After that I would evaluate if it was the timing, cost, or the item itself. Sometimes, I would combine the item with something(s) similar and make a “lot” to see if that would sell. Otherwise, I would either (if it was worthy) save it for the holiday buying season or put it in the “donation box/garage sale stuff”.

      Thanks for your question! I hope I answered it!

  9. Donna says:

    Could you please offer your opinion on the best way to set up a small on-line business? How do you keep track of your expenses/profits, etc. for tax purposes.
    I love reading your blog and thank you for your willingness to share your knowledge….especially to those of us who are non-bloggers!

    • latenightcoffee says:

      I think in this answer I may have to start with the disclaimer “the opinions expressed in this answers are solely of the blogger, please check with your state & local govts….. and your accountant for accuracy…” Alrighty then….

      For business licensing and tax collection…check with your state first for the necessary paperwork. Some can be found online at the state’s website. Then proceed to your county’s licensing. Each county has different policies for online businesses…just go to your county’s office and get the paperwork from them. They usually have a list of businesses to choose from…they’ll tell you what yours is…you pay for your business license in that county. At least that’s how it works in Florida.

      RECORDKEEPING…..I’m going to say that this is not my STRONGEST area. I’m not a “detail” person…I despise recordkeeping…but because its a necessary chore in business… I have had to set up a “kindergarten-like” way of doing it. And by this I mean….big labeled boxes. I don’t have spreadsheets, software, accounting books…..just the boxes. A box for business expense receipts(inventory/gas/car repairs/shipping supplies. A box for tax stuff. And a box for “all other important paper stuff”. Okay…that’s my basic record keeping system. There ARE software programs, great inventory books, fantastic organizational tools….I could never stick with them. And they took the joy of the job from me…so I do my boxes. There are some great websites that also break it down for you if you want more detailed recordkeeping. Just Google recordkeeping online business.

      The nice thing about having an Ebay store is that it has all the “numbers” info you need for business for the year…broken down in quarterly reports….and those break down further into fees/sales/number of items sold/inventory remaining/ ..etc…. And it has all kinds of statistics you need for any other reason. So for a person like me…its just a few clicks to get the info I need. If you set up your own website…you’ll probably just have to keep a good record book of them.

      TAXES……In Florida, you have to collect state sales tax on sales made in FLORIDA…Like selling something from here (St. Pete) to someone in Miami. Items to other states don’t require sales tax…..yet. (They are trying to get something through to start that…pray that doesn’t happen…NIGHTMARE!) Every three months, I find my sales I made to people in the state, total up the tax I charged them…and send in my tax collected to the state. I am ASSUMING most states work like this.

      At the end of the year…my husband and I spread out all of our receipts, divide them into the different piles, add up each category, grab the info off of Ebay, fill out the business income tax forms……and send them to our accountant. I’m a scaredy-cat like that. But he has a great “fill in the blank” worksheet that we just plug in all of necessary numbers into…and VOILA! Done.

      I hope I’ve answered some of your questions. The whole “business side” of this can seem daunting..but trust me..if I can do it…anyone can.

  10. Amy says:

    I Just want to say, you rock! Everyone has such good questions and your answers are very clear! Thanks so much!

  11. Barbara says:

    I have a quick question – have you noticed that once you list a book quite often another seller will lower their price on that same book – do you recommend this practice or standing by your price?

    • latenightcoffee says:

      I’ll be honest…I don’t really pay attention to similar books once I spend the time to research the price of a book and then list it….the next time I look at my book’s pricing is when I have noticed its been in my store for awhile….but thats because I have a ton of books in my store. I try and do my due diligence on the front end so I can feel its put out there at a good sellable price. Even if that means that there may be a few copies that come later which are cheaper. Sometimes people don’t like to buy the cheapest because they sometimes associate the less expensive items with being inferior to similar ones…even if they are not. It’s sometimes a mind game.

      If I didn’t have store…and was just listing a few books here and there….I would probably play around with the price IF I was the highest and I had no watchers….but if someone was “doing a lower the price dance” with me on a book…I probably wouldn’t play the game. Again..doing your pricing research in the beginning will know if you are setting your price fairly and what the market will pay. Their lower price might actually MEAN the book is of poorer quality or a different cover than yours…so you never know.

      I hope I answered your question!

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