ISSUE 22: July 2006
Yard Salers: Issue 22! eBay Live Brain Dump: July 2006
eBay Live in Vegas last month was great. I have a lot to tell you about it, and also will point you to some links to articles about it. As I mentioned in the last issue, I was there covering it for AuctionBytes. If you want to catch up on what happened at the conference, a great roundup is here at the AB site: http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/ebaylive2006.
AuctionBytes editor Ina Steiner was there doing video interviews this year, so you can put faces to names by checking these out...just go to the "Videos from eBay Live" link on the left.
While at the conference, I got to see my new book, "The eBay Price Guide: What Sells for What (in Every Category!)" for the first time. (The subtitle may sound familiar to those of you who bought my "What Sells on eBay for What" ebook). ;)
The book is...in a word, big. At one point the thing was getting so big that my publisher, No Starch Press, was looking into phone book publishers to produce it. And yet, the thing in its final form is only 1/3 as big as it was going to be. (For one thing, we cut out all the low prices,
which were usually $0.01 with inflated shipping anyway, so didn't have much relevance).
If you want to read a bit more about the book and see a pic of me holding the thing, go here: http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m06/i15/s04
So this is the second "newer" issue of this newsletter...after the craziness of writing two books last year, I hope to get back into the swing of writing a regular monthly newsletter. (The second is the 3rd edition of "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks," which was also out in June).
My amazon.com Author Blog
Those of you who just can't get enough of my writing (are there any of you?) will be happy to know I now have a new blog on amazon.com. Amazon.com has created an "author blog" tool for authors to...well, blog. You'll see it if you bring up either of my books on the amazon site, but for good measure, it's at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1593270550. (Scroll down to "amazonConnect").
My GoWholesale Blog
You can also check out my blog on gowholesale.com: (bidbits
The url is:
This issue is primarily an issue to get "caught up" from eBay Live, so it will be a little shorter than the usual issues. We'll get back to the What Sells, Reader Mail, and other features next month.
Now, let's get to it!
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This is a Short Issue:
1) eBay Live Brain Dump: The Highs, the Lows, the Shows
2) Dogs of the Dog Days: A Summer Contest of Our Worst Auctions
1) eBay Live Brain Dump: The Highs, the Lows, the Shows
This year I got to cover both the eBay Developers' conference and the regular eBay Live! convention.
The "DevCon" (as it's affectionately known) is a different animal from eBay Live!, as it's for the eBay third-party developers (duh). It's also a more mellow affair from the super-crowded regular Live! conference, which can actually be a good thing at times, as it seems more intimate, and you don't get the long lines and jammed hallways that characterized this year's sold-out regular show.
Some of the things I heard the most about at the DevCon were Skype, PayPal, and this phenomenon of "Web 2.0" -- a phrase you may have hear bandied about but may not have known what it means. From what I've absorbed, Web 2.0 is a phrase used to describe the current state of the Internet; which
is in a kind of 2nd generation as it evolves to a more sophisticated, niche-rich and interactive model. (Examples given in wikipedia include "DoubleClick was Web 1.0; Google AdSense is Web 2.0. Ofoto is Web 1.0;
Flickr is Web 2.0").
In keeping with Web 2.0, there was talk about the new eBay wiki and blogs features announced at eBay Live. Here's a rundown about those, as well as a few other highlights of eBay Live:
eBay announced that it was debuting its own wiki, which you can find at http://www.ebaywiki.com. It's currently in beta.
(What's a wiki? It's a kind of collective body of knowledge that is written and run by the community.
The most famous example is the wikipedia, a very cool kind of Internet encyclopedia at www.wikipedia.org). I think the eBay wiki can be a very good thing if enough people take the time to contribute to it.
Although eBay has a lot of policies, and the help section is pretty long, I feel there are some grey areas that eBay maybe doesn't have the time or number of employees to address, or perhaps wants to leave vague. The wiki can help clear those up.
For example, I had a listing removed by eBay recently, and I didn't understand why it had violated any policy. It took a few rounds of emails back and forth with eBay's support people to finally find out that while this item was OK to sell in the U.S., eBay did not allow you to sell it in Germany. So I simply removed the international shipping option and it was fine. Why couldn't they have just told me that in the first place? Maybe the wiki can contain this kind of information. We'll see.
By the way, the name "wiki" comes from a Hawaiian slang phrase, "wiki wiki," meaning fast. (As in, "wiki wiki, kids! Time to move on to another yard sale!")
Another highly touted feature from eBay was the Blogs area. By now you probably know what a "blog" is -- like an online journal that anyone can keep on the Internet using blogging software such as blogger, typepad, and now, also eBay Blogs. eBay Blogs are at http://blogs.ebay.com.
Blogs are another thing which I think could be a very helpful tool for sellers and buyers alike. However, with eBay's current rules that limit links to other ecommerce sites, the usefulness of a blog as a promotional tool by eBay sellers may be limited, at least in terms of an outside-of-eBay
presence. In fact, I find eBay's policy wording on this a bit confusing: "Members publishing Blogs may include links to sites that offer goods for sale off eBay, as long as they do not promote outside-of-eBay sales or prohibited items; nor may the Blog contain links to commercial Web sites where goods from multiple sellers are aggregated by a common search engine."
Is that about as clear as mud? How do you link to a site that offers good for sale off-eBay, but still not promote outside-of-eBay sales? Is that specifically referring to items listed on eBay already? I'll try to clear up this confusion in the next issue.
Also, "Use of profanity (not patently vulgar language, hate speech, or adult material) in the context of a Blog will generally be permitted; however, excessive and inappropriate use is discouraged. Remember, you are responsible for all content you publish." So you can use profanity but not "patently vulgar language"? I gotta talk to my attorney about that one.
Well, one thing a blog should be good for is promoting your own eBay sales, because once someone clicks into your blog, they can then click to view your items for sale or your Store icon.
A quick glance at the eBay Blogs home page as I write this reveals the following variety of post titles, some of which are:
- Store Logo?
- Plus Sized Clothing Market on eBay? (When you click into the post that's all you see; just that question...so the poster is posing the question, not answering it).
- Does anyone recognize these tiny feet ?
- Blog open!
- Is anything showing up now ?
Let's look at some blog names. eBay rotates blog titles throughout the day, so about the best exposure you can get for your eBay blog (and hence items for sale) is to have your blog be one of the lucky ones that shows up there:
- Tea Party Anyone?
- GETTING THROUGH LAW SCHOOL ON EBAY. I PLAN TO GET THROUGH LAW SCHL ON EBAY
- what happen went you leave member a positive feedback
- HOW CONVENIENT... THANKS FOR THE "UNIQUE CHALLENGE"
- Time To Move On?
- YAHOO AUCTIONS ARE FREE
- Does anyone out there actually make money on Ebay?
Ouch on those last three!
Wow, my brain hurts after that one. Let's get to something fun and simply: shoes. Or specifically, shoe boxes.
The New Shoe Box
The big rock star of eBay Live 2005, the Postmaster General, showed up again...this time to announce the new shoebox-sized US Postal shipping box. Hey, sounds good to me!
He then handed Meg a pair of ruby slippers a la Dorothy, packed inside one of the new shoe boxes. I think the shoebox-sized box will also be a good, "big enough but not too big" size for sending a variety of things..books, multiple CDs, jewelry lots, small dishes, etc. etc.
Cracking Down on Inflated Shipping
If you buy as well as sell on eBay you'd be hard-pressed to miss that many items have inflated shipping fees. In fact, when I was researching the eBay Price Guide, I came across this a lot..especially in the lowest prices. Excessive shipping prices are "a turnoff for buyers," said eBay North
America president Bill Cobb.
Cobb said eBay first tried adding a column for shipping fees to the search results (which I thought was a very good addition), but that didn't "have the effect we'd hoped," he said. So eBay is now going to "start enforcing our policy more effectively." He said they'd start w/ "outrageous" cases, such as a Motorola headset car charger, $0.95 with BIN, but shipping is $48.99.
"Selling cross-border is a privilege, not a right," said Cobb, and eBay is going to set more restrictions for this. In the U.S., you have to be "PayPal verified or have a merchant account." Each eBay country will set its own standards.
Search and Stores
This is a big one, and one that's caused eBay a lot of headaches in the past several months.
Let me see if I can sum up...eBay used to show some, but not all, store listings in search results on the regular site. These would show up beneath the regular auction listings, and the number of store listings shown would depend on how many regular auction listings came up in the results. If there were not many regular auctions, more store results showed up.
Back in, I think it was, January of this year, 2006, eBay decided
to allow unlimited eBay store listings to show up in its search results. I think it's fair to say that sellers with eBay stores saw this as a huge boon, while, according to Cobb, the change was "disruptive" and "people were leaving the site more often." They had "hurt the core of the marketplace - auction-style listings -- including Buy It Now listings."
One might also wonder if it would hurt eBay's bottom line, since store listings are much cheaper than regular eBay listings given their length, and sellers might move a lot of inventory into stores due to the new exposure, meaning eBay wouldn't collect as many regular listing fees.
So, long story not quite so long, "we're back to where we were in January" [meaning before the change to unlimited search results], said Cobb at eBay Live.
So that means there are some, but not all, store search results showing up when people do searches on the regular eBay site.
I can see eBay's position on this, as a shareholder. Sure, I want to see the co. make money. But I also like my store listings to get exposure. I wonder if there's some further compromise eBay could make on this, such as adding a little store icon next to its "Search" button, that allows people to search stores, or "+ Stores" that allows them to search the whole site, including stores. Just a thought.
As I write this, I see that Bill Cobb has just sent an email stating that ebay is raising its eBay Store fees...this is a move, he says, to encourage more "core listing" formats (such as regular auctions and Buy It Now), as well as offset the cost of hosting Store listings..he says that with Store listings now comprising about 83% of eBay.com listings, the current Store insertion fees don't cover eBay's costs for hosting them.
So we'll see how sellers react to this. So far Wall Street doesn't seem to like it, as the stock is down a point to 24.93. This stock has really been down in the dumps lately.
Have thoughts to share about this, or anything else? Send 'em on to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Dogs of the Dog Days: A Summer Contest of Our Worst Auctions
Summer has been historically the worst time of the year to sell on eBay. This year the summer slump is getting to me...for example, I just let a big lot of gorgeous necklaces go for $19.95. Sigh. It gave me an idea: let's share stories of our worst, least profitable, slowest-moving auctions just for fun. Do you have something that you just let go for a song? Something that's just sitting in your eBay Store like a wad of gum on your shoe? Or even something you can't bring yourself to list because after you dragged it home from the yard sale, you looked it up online and realized it was hardly worth the cost of materials it was made out of?
Email your stories to me at email@example.com. I'll pick the two best and send each winner signed copies of my two new paperback books.
I'm gonna leave it at that for this issue. If you want more about eBay Live, check out AuctionBytes' coverage, which includes the pieces I wrote while I was there. I didn't talk much about "the shows" -- you can read about my brushes with Davy Jones, the "Rat Pack," Elvis, and Huey Lewis and the News there, too. Suffice to say that for me, seeing Davy Jones in person was a big thrill. I have a picture I took of him posted on my gowholesale blog (see url above in this issue). You can probably figure out how old I am if I tell you that the first album I remember listening to was a Monkees album. But maybe we shouldn't go there.
Still haven't read my bestselling eBay book, "What Sells on eBay for What"! You can buy it and download it instantly -- click What Sells on eBay for What or go to
SUBSCRIBE TO BOOKTHINK'S 50/50
New! A Market Report for Booksellers
What could be more important for booksellers than to know when to buy a book and when not to? Not anything I can think of. If you have a substantial amount of this kind of information in mind when you go to sales or can access it quickly (via a notebook or some sort of handheld device), great. There'll be no stopping you.
But there's information, and there's information. Some of it's necessarily more (or less) useful depending on how likely it is that you'll have the chance to put it in play. What good does it do you to know the title of an uncommon book that can be resold for $50? If it's uncommon, the chances of using this information are relatively slight, and whatever you invest in acquiring it may not be time or money well spent. Far better to invest in information that will have wider applicability. Far better to have knowledge of books that will sell for $50 and more and can actually be found at sales or other venues with some regularity for prices that will give you plenty of room to profit handsomely.
This is where BookThink's 50/50 comes in. 50/50 is a detailed market report that lists and annotate 50 books that typically sell for more than $50 online and - here's the best part - surface at sales and other venues with some regularity. This is information you can use and profit from often. Uncommon books will not be included.
Here's a sample of what you're likely to see in 50/50:
THE COMPACT EDITION OF THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY
2-volumes. Unabridged. Originally issued in dark blue cloth with a 3-compartment box, the upper compartment housing a boxed magnifying glass that operated like a drawer. The magnifying glass was essential for reading microprint, a necessary evil in condensing what was originally a 10-volume set into 2. Beginning in the early 1970's, Book-of-the-Month-Club offered these dictionaries at deep discounts for new members. Many sold, and many are still out there. Values are understandably lower if the box and/or magnifying glass is missing, but final values at or near $100 are commonplace.
So, if you could use 50 of these every other month, then BookThink's 50/50 will bring them to you. As with BookThink's Gold Edition, BookThink's 50/50 is available for purchase either by annual subscription at $20 or individually at $10.
Click here to subscribe instantly:
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eBooks by Julia L. Wilkinson:
[All my ebooks are offered at 1/2 price from their regular prices to the subscribers of this newsletter. If interested in any of them, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
- Making Big Bucks off Catalogs on eBay:
- Over 100 Books that Sell for $50-$100 on eBay: Updated for 2005!
- Selling Kids Clothes on eBay: email me!
(these last two will be available for purchase via my site soon).
- How to Spot Fakes: email me!
What Sells on eBay for What: Now updated for 2005! $8.95, 1/2 price from the $17.95 retail price.
My Life at AOL (available at amazon.com, booklocker.com, and 1stbooks.com)
Copyright 2005 Julia L. Wilkinson
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