Buy Used on Amazon, with Prime Shipping and Trade-In Value

imageAmazon, it seems, has entered the used book trade in a bigger way. How bigger is bigger? With BIG YELLOW BUTTONS that offer used book prices and Prime shipping with fulfillment via Amazon.

In a word: OUCH.

This seems like Amazon’s answer to the “publishers set this price and it’s too goddam high” conundrum presented by the “agency model:” they’ll provide fast shipping for Prime members and sell books “used” at a lower price.

The example tweeted by Angela James shows Lynne Reid Banks’ “The Indian in the Cupboard” available for $11.53 in hardcover new, or $4.00 in “good condition” fulfilled by Amazon and Prime-eligible. Huh. Which one would you choose?

Plus, if you send in a copy of certain books, you get Amazon gift card credit. image

Not every book offers a big trade in value: the paperback of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is only up for .45c in Amazon.com gift credit, while the hardback is $1.60. Poor Stieg Larsson’s books, they’re like Toyotas in the resale market.

Erin McCarthy’s Flat Out Sexy is $10.08 retail and $5.99 used in very good condition.

I’m fascinated by the effects of the huge prominence of the “Buy Used” button – and also by the prices for trading in and buying used. If the used book stores are offering Amazon fulfillment, who is setting the used book prices, Amazon, or the used bookstore?

It seems not every used book vendor on Amazon has “fulfillment by Amazon” as an option – which makes me wonder how much they pay to access that designation. And not every book offers the trade-in option, or the Buy Used button with Amazon fulfillment.

What do I get if I trade in a Kindle?

Thanks to Angela James for tweeting the original link.

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The Link-O-Lator

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  1. 1
    mary frances says:

    what does “Amazon fulfillment” mean? I’m in Canada and use Chapters/indigo when I online shop so I have no idea about amazon’s practices. Is it a real designation of value or just an arbitrary title they tag on to make it more special? Has the book/vendor selling it done something for it or what?

    mary

  2. 2
    Chicklet says:

    WHOA. *makes popcorn, settles in*

  3. 3
    Samanthadelayed says:

    We have a used bookstore and we do sell on Amazon. I don’t know if this is really going to change our store business at all, but it can’t bode well for the online sales. That big button might distract from the smaller “Buy used from” link…

    As for the new trade your books in deal; I honestly wonder if people really want to ship their own books to Amazon, even if the shipping is free. I suppose if you have a lot of books to get rid of it makes sense, otherwise it seems like a lot of bother for the amount of credit they are giving.  I will say that it is going to be a nightmare because they judge what is “good” condition and people are going to be cranky when they send in a book and it is deemed in poor condition. Amazon will not send those books back to people.

  4. 4

    I figured they’d do something like this, but I thought it would take longer. I’m guessing this will take care of those pesky royalties that authors hope to earn. LOL!

  5. 5
    CaroleM says:

    Amazon Fulfillment means the book seller has sent their book inventory to Amazon, who stores it, packs it and ships it. It’s not a requirement for any book seller, and may or may not be preferable.  Amazon Fulfilled prices are usually (not always,but usually) higher than one of the independent sellers. 

    The seller who uses Amazon Fulfilment pays a storage fee, a pick/pack fee, a handling fee, 

    Here ya go:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller/fba/fba_pricing.html

    As a seller I opt not to do this.  I probably should, cause then the thousands of books everywhere in my house would be at Amazon.  But by the time they get done with it, I wouldn’t make anything selling those books anyways.  Not that there’s a fortune in bookselling, but at least I can delude myself that it’s a business.

    And I don’t think I’ve ever bought any book through the Fulfilment program.

  6. 6
    MaryK says:

    re: Fulfilled by Amazon
    If Amazon fulfills it, it’s eligible for Amazon shipping prices like Prime Shipping or Super Saver Shipping instead of the $3.95 per used book from individual sellers. So, you could throw a used book in with an order of Amazon items for no extra shipping charges.  It’s a big deal, IMO.

  7. 7
    Tabetha says:

    I’m pretty much done with paper books at this point but this is exactly why I love Amazon.  Sure they might want to conquer the world but they’re taking care of their customers and giving them what they want along the way. 

    Once I make it through my massive TBR pile if the Agency 5 is still dicking around with ebooks and treating me like I’m an acceptable loss this might be a nice alternative for some of my favorite authors.  At least until I replace them with new favorite authors from publishing houses that value my business and have a decent ebook policy.  I’m super excited to see what Carrina Press has to offer this summer and I’m hoping they’ll take up some of the slack.

  8. 8
    RB says:

    I only buy the kindle edition but I don’t like to buy used books unless I can see them first.  We have a used book store and I will get them there, but some people are really hard on books.  I don’t care for books with coffee and chocolate and booger stains.  Also, when I do buy paper books it is often for a gift, so I buy new.

  9. 9
    Tabetha says:

    Looking at this a little more this is a REALLY sweet deal.  For instance you can buy Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs for $9.99 and then trade it in for a $7.40 gift card.  Once they build up their stock a bit and the used book sellers jump on board—OUCH! is an understatement.  Cheaper books with all the convenience of online shopping backed by Amazon’s customer service and free shipping deals?  I don’t even want DTB’s and I’ve never been a used book buyer or seller but looking at a deal like that is even appealing to me.

    I hope authors take a publishers view towards it’s customers into consideration when looking to sell their next book.  I know I wouldn’t want to be signed with a publisher that consumers hate when there seems to be more ways then ever to avoid giving a publisher money without the customer having to sacrifice anything.

  10. 10
    Megs says:

    I like that they list the trade-in value right on the book’s listing like that. I sometimes sell books back to Powell’s online, and it’s kind of a pain sitting there typing in the ISBN’s of all my books and hoping they’ll take at least one of them.

    I’ve bought books via “Fulfilled by Amazon” sellers before, and aside from sometimes getting books that aren’t in quite what I’d call “good” condition, it’s worked out well for me.

  11. 11
    Megs says:

    Also, Powells has a 3 book/$5 credit minimum before they’ll buy your books online, and they don’t ship your books back if they reject them for condition. Amazon doesn’t appear to have either of those requirements, which is convenient. However, just going through some of the extra books I have hanging around, Powells is offering significantly more credit for some of them. Hmm.

  12. 12
    Jen C says:

    Actually, the fulfillment by Amazon thing isn’t new – it’s been around since at least summer 07, when I was selling books on ‘the River’ as a way to supplement income between jobs. It really eats into the margin that most used booksellers get by on, so most don’t use it. The ones who do tend to be the type to buy in bulk from publishers overstock, things like that.

    IMO, it’s not the end of the world. :) Books have to go somewhere and there’s always room for used booksellers somewhere in the equation.

  13. 13
    meoskop says:

    That’s hilarious. Unless you’re an author.

    Sony offered $25 gift cards for $15 through Target this week. Conundrum – does using them support the agency model since it would look like I bought books at those much higher ticket prices? I would not buy a $7.99 paperback for either $8.40 or $11.99 otherwise. I think it might.

    I suppose I’ll be using them on hardcovers, so the new Karen Robards cost me something like six bucks.

  14. 14
    MB says:

    As a book buyer, that sounds like a good deal to me.  I’ve bought many used books on Amazon before and what gets me is not the cost of the actual book (cheap) but the shipping.  I’ve had good experiences from the book sellers, but since it’s impossible for me to find all the books that I want from one seller in order to combine shipping, I end up paying a lot in shipping costs from the various booksellers.  Having a way to buy almost all of my used books from one seller (Amazon) and using their shipping deals would influence me to purchase used more frequently rather than thinking twice as I do now.

    Alternatively, the GoodReads Bookswap program is great, BTW, AND pretty cheap (i.e. shipping only).  I’ve had great experience with that.

  15. 15
    TKF says:

    Expect more of your favorite midlist authors to not have their contracts renewed . . .

  16. 16
    meoskop says:

    Expect more of your favorite midlist authors to not have their contracts renewed . . .

    If I win the lotto, part eleven bajillion – I’m opening an e-pub just for those midlisters. I miss em, I do.

  17. 17
    --E says:

    The “agency” model only applies to ebooks. Dead tree editions still go at the standard discounts and are subject to the returns system.

    I can’t image Amazon is selling their new inventory through this scheme.  A simple audit would reveal such an arrangement, and I suspect the DOJ would have something to say about fraudulent business practices. (Also, the IRS. Hellooo inventory write-downs!) Amazon may occasionally be stupid, but not that stupid.

  18. 18
    Rene says:

    I’ve bought used books before through Amazon, and I’ve seen the used with Prime shipping before. But the used books I buy I buy to collect, so condition matters for me. If there’s a book that is not up to snuff on Prime shipping, I’ll pay more to get it in the shape I want. Besides, I prefer brick and mortar and royalty checks to the author more than four bucks in shipping. I want authors to keep writing, mid-list or not! I just hope that people will start to realize that authors will probably hurt from this too.

  19. 19
    Lynn M says:

    Hmm. This is interesting. I’ve got such a weird set of parameters for which kinds of books I buy (new vs. used vs. e-book), I won’t explain it here. But a lot of times if I can get a used book where the cost of the book plus shipping is still cheaper than a brand new copy, I’ll go that route. However, if the UB + Shipping price is equal or more than a new book, I stick the book title in my wishlist and use it to bump my total order value above the Free Shipping margin when I next place an order.

    But I can see buying more used books if I can get them via Amazon as part of an order that will qualify for free shipping. Another boon – I like the idea of getting gift cards with cash value for trade ins rather than the “store credit” I get at my UBS down the street. I have over $50 worth of credit there but their policy is that you can only pay with half credit and the other half must be in cash/check. It takes me forever to spend that much since finding titles at the UBS is hit or miss for me. At Amazon, you can use the GC on new books as well, right?

    It’s funny that there are so many permutations on how to figure out the cost of a book (is it cheaper to drive to a B&M store if I pay more for the book but avoid shipping? is the e-book cheapest? Is the Amazon new vs. used + shipping the best option?) that bookbuying is as complicated as negotiating a new car price. In the end it seems like a lot of work to save $1 or $2 here or there, but when you buy as many books as I do, it adds up.

  20. 20

    Tabetha,

    In theory, this is a wonderful way to approach publishing. I’m sure most authors would agree, if they could afford to.

    **I hope authors take a publishers view towards it’s customers into consideration when looking to sell their next book.  I know I wouldn’t want to be signed with a publisher that consumers hate when there seems to be more ways then ever to avoid giving a publisher money without the customer having to sacrifice anything.***

    But the truth is right now most authors are simply trying to survive the publishing uphevel. When it comes down to paying your morgage or buying groceries, authors have to make practical decisions. Someone mentioned Midlist authors disappearing. Right now, they’re headed for extinction. I’m sure as technology continues to change (and people’s attitudes toward ebooks) more opportunities will arise for the missing Midlist. Until then, they’re in survival mode.

  21. 21
    anonymous says:

    This worries me.  I love my books and my dream is to one day own a home where I can have my own personal library.

    That being said, this is going to hurt the publishing industry.  As a customer, I see cheaper books and go, “Yum.”  But if you think past that,  stuff like this cuts way down on the variety of authors that we have to read because many simply won’t be able to afford to choose writing as a profession.

    In the end, I’d rather pay for my books and support my authors and have selection.  JMHO.

  22. 22

    As a reader/writer, I buy a scary amount of books. Getting an ereader that allows me to download them in an instant only makes it scarier. *ggg* Like all readers, I try to look for deals. I HATE that ebooks are priced the same as print. I mean REALLY hate it. But until things change, I’ll have to put up with it.

    I am more hesitant to buy these days. I don’t want to get burned by a bad book. Can’t afford to. I look at those Used Book Prices and drool at the discount. Believe me. I get the appeal. But I also know that if I start going that route, I’ll contribute to the deaths of a lot of careers. So as long as I’m able, I’ll buy new. Whether that’s online or at Target/Walmart, etc. I just won’t be buying as many books as I used to.

  23. 23
    Tabetha says:

    Jordan, I get what you’re saying I think.  Times are tough and it sounds like a lot of authors are just happy to have a contract?  But I’m not following what that has to do with considering a publisher’s reputation when an author is looking to sell their next book.  Every time I look for a job I take a look at who’s hiring, rate them according to who’d I’d prefer working for based on what’s best for me and work my way down the list.  I might end up taking the least appealing job because that’s all I’m offered (I have groceries to buy and a mortgage to pay like everyone else) but that has nothing to do with the process of job hunting itself.  And if my career depended on sales and someone wouldn’t buy what I’m selling—even though they like the product—I’d want to know why.  Whether I can do anything about it right now or even if I don’t think it’s significant enough to care about doesn’t change the fact that it’s still valuable information to have.     

    Tabetha,

    In theory, this is a wonderful way to approach publishing. I’m sure most authors would agree, if they could afford to.

    **I hope authors take a publishers view towards it’s customers into consideration when looking to sell their next book.  I know I wouldn’t want to be signed with a publisher that consumers hate when there seems to be more ways then ever to avoid giving a publisher money without the customer having to sacrifice anything.***

    But the truth is right now most authors are simply trying to survive the publishing uphevel. When it comes down to paying your morgage or buying groceries, authors have to make practical decisions. Someone mentioned Midlist authors disappearing. Right now, they’re headed for extinction. I’m sure as technology continues to change (and people’s attitudes toward ebooks) more opportunities will arise for the missing Midlist. Until then, they’re in survival mode.

  24. 24

    Tabetha,

    I agree with you that having all the information is important. The problem is that authors rarely get a choice when it comes to ‘picking’ publishers. That’s really not how it works. You finish a book, your agent sends it out, and you hope that someone is interested in buying it. Rarely do you have publishers competing for a work, so there’s not a lot of ‘choices’ to make. Believe me, I wish there was. :) Obviously, if you’re talking about epubs that’s a different story. An author can ‘choose’ who they’d like to do business with—of course the publisher still has to have interest in the story.

  25. 25
    Tabetha says:

    The problem is that authors rarely get a choice when it comes to ‘picking’ publishers. That’s really not how it works. You finish a book, your agent sends it out, and you hope that someone is interested in buying it. Rarely do you have publishers competing for a work, so there’s not a lot of ‘choices’ to make.

    Actually, if what you’re saying is accurate the true problem is that there’s too many authors and the perceived lack of choice is just the result of that.

  26. 26

    Tabetha, There may or may not be too many authors, but it still boils down to the publishers choosing the stories/authors and not the other way around. Sure authors submit to the publishers they’d like to sell to first, but ultimately they have to see who is interested. And when there’s only one, then it makes the decision fairly easy. You could have fewer authors, but that doesn’t mean the publishers would suddenly start fighting over their work. It would still boil down to type of story and interest.

    If only it were like your job interviews.

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