Selling Textbooks – Amazon vs. vs. Ebay

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The Fall semester at Johns Hopkins’ MBA program just ended today and I’m going through the usual end-of-the-semester ritual of selling my gently used textbooks for dimes and quarters on the dollar. I never really sat down and investigated which service would give me the most bang for my buck until now and I still think I am making the right choices. While I was pretty sure what their commissions were and how each service operated, having sold items on Amazon, Ebay and before; I never looked in close detail at the numbers.

Below is a comparison of the fees:

Site Fees/Commission Shipping Stipend
List Sale Standard Expedited Fee Schedule
Amazon Marketplace $0 15% $1.23 $1.67 Link $0 <15% $1.94 $4.70 Link
Ebay Varies ~5.5% $0 $0 Link

Ebay Disqualification: I’m removing Ebay from seriously being in this comparison simply because you go to to buy textbooks, not Ebay. Ebay is for everything else and if you try to sell a textbook on Ebay, you’ll most likely be sorely disappointed unless it’s a collectible or something of that nature.

Now onto the comparisons…

Final Sale Fees: Wins. The fee schedules, as you may see, aren’t as simple as the table lays them out to be so you might want to delve further into those. For example, uses an Ebay-esq scale for its fees based on the sale price of the book. If the book is under $50, you pay 15%. If it’s over $50, then every dollar above $50 but under $100 is assessed a fee at a 12.5% rate. Usually your textbooks will fall in the $150 to $50 range, so this final fee will always be less than or equal to the fee.

Shipping Stipend Wins (again). You will also see that’s shipping stipend is significantly higher than’s, especially in the Expedited fee. If you know that your book is going to fit into a USPS Flat Rate Envelope, then expedited will actually net you a few cents (Flat rate is $3.95 as of this writing, to be raised in 2006) whereas it could cost you a few dollars if you sold via Amazon.
Caveat: While Amazon’s stated stipend is relatively stingy, I listed a textbook and the stipend they offered was over $3. Perhaps their actual policy has changed, I would imagine it has, but their policy pages don’t reflect the new values.

How Long Until You’re Paid?

Tied. Amazon pays you 14 days after you sell the book and pays twice a month. Sometimes the math works out that you get it faster than 14 days, sometimes it takes 14 days. Either way, you can get it direct deposited and I see it as a wash.

I still choose Amazon Marketplace with winning out on Fees and on the Shipping, and the reason is because the average sale price of the typical book is higher on Amazon. A book that would sell for $10 on Amazon Marketplace might be listed for only $5 at, in the case of a book I just listed, the difference was that staggering. I’m comparing Brand New books to Brand New books (I didn’t make the mistake of comparing New to Used).

The demand for books on appears to be much higher than at – that’s why I use Amazon Marketplace to sell my textbooks.

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “Selling Textbooks – Amazon vs. vs. Ebay”

  1. Cap says:

    you know for this semester’s listing.. I actually had higher price over at

    I notice more listing for the same books over at amazon. my business law’s book price was drastically different.. $70 at half and $60 at amazon (lowest anyway).

    but I do notice books always fly off the “shelf” faster over at amazon. some of the prices really tick me off. people go into price wars to get the “lowest price” offer and it drastically brings down the price. some schmuck will put 5-10 off and bam, the entire market goes down. the book was just published this summer, for goodness sake! ahh!

    I was so anal this semester, I made book covers for all my books (just like in HS). so I can keep them as mint as possible when it comes time to sell.

    yeah I looked pretty cool walking in class with grocery bags as my book cover.

  2. jim says:

    What pisses me off is when a book is listed for a class and then isn’t even used. Some of my classes have the main textbook and then some ancillary books or workbooks that we don’t even touch. The subject material is so basic that you could survive simply studying wikipedia or using google but in order to know what’s in Chapters 4 – 8 for Test 1 forces you to get the stupid book. I borrowed my friend’s book for one class but it was 1 edition old so I just wrote down chapter names and studied for the midterm via wikipedia, scored a 96 to boot so you can imagine my annoyance.

    I participate in price wars too though because I want to be rid of the book ASAP (or it sits on my shelf until it is used nowhere in academia) but I usually only undercut the lowest price by a penny. Why cut it by $5-$10 when $0.01 gets you ahead? I doubt anyone reads those Amazon reviews anyway so you’re not “paying” them $5-$10 for the risk of your low feedback scores.

  3. I preffer over the others. It is easy to set up books, you can quickly see how much others are charging so that you price your book accordingly.

  4. Miller says:

    How about for *buying* books? By the above logic, would be best for buying, right? Used or new (is there a difference?)?

  5. jim says:

    It’s easier to check lowest sale price on either site in a matter of minutes so obviously go with the lower price. Back in my undergrad days, I’d buy the textbook in the bookstore and return it within two weeks while I waited for a copy I bought online to arrive. It’s too much of a pain with Hopkins so I don’t do that anymore.

    Usually sellers will tell you what’s ‘used’ about the book (creases, marks, highlighting) and if they don’t, buy from a seller who does.

  6. Matt says:

    You can also use Google’s book search if they have your text book listed. Sometimes, the data on a page is not displayed, but in most cases, you can just read straight from the book without buying it.

  7. Cap says:

    I suggest searching via to look for books. it farms a list of lowest price from various book selling sites.

    just be aware who you’re buying from at the end.

    but yeah I participate in price war too. sometimes I dont go super low though, when its just ridiculous.

    cant wait till the books are at $200 minimum. I’ve seen a few.

  8. luis says:

    The price comparisons between amazon and half are wrong!. Amazon in addition to the 15% commission charges $.99 per book and keeps $1.35 of the shipping price of $3.99 for media mail, etc. There are more things. Wang go back to the drawing board and make the correct comparisons!!!

    • Thomas says:

      Yes, but reimburses me 1.35 less on hard back books and for soft cover books, they would reimburse me almost enough to make up for the 99 cent fee per book.

      So while wins out on fees, they don’t win out by that much.

  9. Tiffany says:

    Amazon takes forever to deliver books, I’ve had two horrible experiences. However, any time that I order from I get my order ASAP.

    • echidnina says:

      I think it varies a lot, seeing as and Amazon marketplace are both just collections of independent sellers. I don’t think you can make a comparison because each experience will be different.

      You can compare sellers, though. I mainly use Amazon for my textbooks and there’s a few main textbook resellers in my field – and I know which ones ship fast and which take a few weeks to arrive.

  10. Momma says:

    BEWARE OF AMAZON’S A-Z GUARANTEE POLICY FOR BUYERS. I’ve had some buyers get their books for free for some really stupid reasons (they don’t read the details with the listing) and Amazon supports them 100%. I have lost tons of money because of this, and a lot of the buyers are just dishonestly trying to get a free book. Amazon may be easier but you will make less money than with and for the reason above I would definitely sell with them!!

  11. Ed says:

    Amazon is a tricky place to sell – be careful with their a to Z claims – many buyers get product for free and I had my amazon account closed. I agree Amazon has better sales prices for the seller – but you take a risk and Amazon ALWAYS sides with the buyer and you are out your product and your money.

    • Ed says:

      And – I posted BEFORE I read the comment above my first one – too funny – but proof Amazon is tricky. Also, if they sell the book themselves you are always competing directly with them where as isn’t in the business of selling products themselves – they are a true marketplace for buyer and sellers.

      • echidnina says:

        That’s true, the fact that Amazon sells the books themselves changes the game a bit. Most of the time I buy my books used from the marketplace sellers, but every once in a while the Amazon price will be cheaper, factoring in the free shipping and all.

  12. Luke says:

    My biggest problem with selling on is no seller protection. You pay a commission to every time you sell something but they don’t have your back if something goes wrong. If you sell an item on, the buyer can file a chargeback to their credit card company even though they received the item. The buyer could be a typical scam artist but they have the credit card company backing them. will only forward the information you give them to the credit card company in your defense. In my case, tracking information and emails proving the buyer received the item were meaningless to and the buyer’s credit card company. Buyer got the item for free, the credit company got their money back, and didn’t lose a cent from the transaction (seller loses the money for selling the item). EBay and PayPal have always refunded me money for a scamming buyer if I have proof the item was shipped. EBay and Amazon are a tossup on commission fees so the best choice is obvious. EBay!

  13. Amazon Bites says:

    Amazon is gaining a very bad reputation for closing seller accounts and freezing funds for 90 days. They seem to be eager to knock the little guy out of the picture and only feature mega sellers who auto price their listings. Amazon needs a competitor, maybe a company that is only used books and no mega sellers?

    • Shirley says:

      I would like that! I have only used a few times for other than used books and I would certainly welcome being able to browse through comparatively priced used books without all the rest of the bells and whistles.

  14. yoyoyo says:

    I know this article is ridiculously old, but the same old routine never changes for college kids. With that being said, I’ve been around the block once or twice and have pretty much tried every service out there when is comes to selling books at the end of a semester. Personally I agree with the guy who said Amazon has been really heading downward in their services. I have heard of multiple people who were never paid and couldn’t even contact anyone to work things out. My personal favorite is for the sole reason that I never have any issue, and the ranking system on the quality of the book is very effective. Only a couple times have I been disappointed with a “very good” ranked book being poor quality. I both buy and sell my books on and always think the going market price is very fair. You can pay more for better quality if you want, or go for the shittiest, cheapest one you can get, which I love.

  15. Jay says:

    The beauty of half compared to amazon is the stupid standard selling fees for non upgraded members. so, lets say I’m a regular seller with a regular account and I sell a book for 1.50$ and get 3.99 for shipping. Amazon takes out a selling fee of ($1.00), a closing fee of (1.35) and a commission of 15% on the total amount of the sale. SO out of 5.49$ total revenue, the seller sees only about 2.50$ yet the seller still has to ship the item at 2.38 plus packaging costs. At $1.50 price value (as determined by all those bastard price war mongers) the book will actually only make you about .20$ if your lucky

  16. Jay says:

    Addendum: The beauty of half is the fees aren’t so bad, thats the general message of the above comment. This allows sellers to offer books at lower prices as they aren’t getting crushed by over the top selling fees.

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