Case Studies: Washington West Books

>> Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The boyfriend and I both like reading, for me, it's mostly trashy novels that some TV series are based on and mostly mystery thrillers. For the boyfriend, his taste is a lot vaster where one would expect of a librarian. Between us, we have accumulated quite a few books and they are taking up space and cluttering both of our apartments.

We tried sending some off to an used book store a block away but the owner would only exchange it for store credit that cannot be used to purchase retro DVDs or music and after browsing through the whole store, it seemed that the most interesting things we could find was our books. It's disappointing and I doubt that we'll do it again.

At the cost of going to a thrift store in town that donates the proceed to HIV/AIDS charities, we have found a bunch of books with hard backs originally planned to use for notebook making. Come to find out that they are autographed versions of some retro novels by a guy named Thomas Morris Longstreth. After browsing on Amazon, we found out that they are worth at least $20 a piece where we nearly got them for free. There's limited need for them but we still listed them online to sell, and so Washington West Books was founded.

In the same spirit, we have listed about 50 of the books that we no longer need online, under-cutting the price to induce sales. After doing so, we got 9 orders for 10 books after the first day. Lugging the books to the post office was relatively easy, but turns out it costs quite an arm and a leg to buy mailing envelopes and postage, It costs $64 to mail $80 worth of books and then there is the commission to Amazon, so the revenue turns out to be very minimal if there's any at all. And also, the experience in the post office was quite taxing.

It sorta leave a bad taste in my mouth. I found out that there is a small flat rate box that can be used for around $4.99 that might be big enough for most books. I wonder how people make money from postage or selling their goods. Anyone had a good experience?

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