My New Favorite Service: Fulfillment By Amazon

One of the biggest challenges for college students such as myself is finding affordable (haha) textbooks at the beginning of the term… and then getting at least some of that money back at the end of the term when you don’t need the book anymore. I use Amazon to find textbooks (they’re almost always cheaper there than at the college bookstore), but selling them back is a bit of a hassle. Sure, I can just take them to the campus bookstore and sell them, but the one time I did that I got $20 for a $60 book and swore never to make that mistake again. Instead, I list the book as a used seller on Amazon, but there’s all sorts of trouble there, too.

First, I’m competing in price with a number of other used sellers, and while this still allows me to ask for more than the bookstore would give me, if I price too high the book will never sell. Second, though Amazon automatically provides a $3.99 shipping fee (paid by the buyer), it’s not quite enough to cover the actual shipping expenses if I use the simple method of flat-rate US Postal Service boxes at $5.00. If I take the extended time to get an appropriate box, with the appropriate shipping, the shipping fee may cover it, but I don’t want to spend that kind of time just to save one dollar.

Third, and most importantly, as a university student, I don’t have that much time. It takes time to list the books on Amazon, but at least I can do that at my leisure. It takes even more time getting them ready to ship, and I’m on a deadline once a book actually sells or else I get bad reviews from the unhappy customer, which then affects how willing people are to buy from my seller account.

As a result of all this, I’ve been quite unhappy with the entire situation. Then, while doing some cleaning up during the winter break, I decided to try something new: I registered my seller account to use the Fulfillment by Amazon service.

Fulfillment by Amazon is a service Amazon provides to sellers such as myself in which, for a small fee (in addition to the usual listing fee), they handle all the shipping and customer logistics. I was nervous about doing it the first time, because I wasn’t sure how it would work, or if I’d regret it later. I was worried about the monthly storage charge, and the biannual long-time storage charge (only applies if you have quantities larger than one, though), and, of course, the fact that the service took an additional dollar or two off the sale price, but I decided to go for it anyway just so I could get the books out of my house and not have to worry about fulfilling sales during strenuous class periods.

Right now, I’m thrilled I did that.

I created listings for six textbooks, and the first immediate benefit I received was the joy of shipping all six of them in one single box for $8 (instead of paying $3-5 shipping for each book individually). Due to the holiday season, it took the books nine days to get to Amazon’s fulfillment center, and so the listings went live the day before New Year’s.

Within three days, while I was busy getting ready for winter quarter and bringing the blog back to life, four of the books sold. And I didn’t have to do anything about it. Next thing I knew, when I checked my account over the weekend, Amazon was processing everything for me, including payment, and I was giddy.

This is how I’m gonna sell my used textbooks from now on.

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