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Hey, pootski! [or anyone else with experience selling on Amazon]
Is it just me, or does Amazon's shipping allowance to sellers not come near to covering the postage for anything but small books?

I sold a book earlier this year, just a little bigger and thicker than a standard trade PB but with pulpy, lightweight paper, and the only kind of shipping I could afford was Media Mail. There was a close call because the buyer had given the wrong apartment number and there was nothing I could do to reroute the package, but in the end she was able to get it.

Now I've just sold one of my textbooks from last semester (3 lbs. 3 oz. by my kitchen scale), and again the shipping allowance ($3.99) only covers Media Mail ($3.28). Parcel Post is $9.38 and Priority Mail is more. I checked UPS, not that I have any desire to do business with them, and their lowest rate was $11-plus.

The weird thing is that I had listed the book back in January and thought the listing would expire in a week or so the way they have in the past when I've listed stuff, which was fine with me because I wasn't sure I wanted to sell it after all. Then just last night I got an email that it had sold.

I'm going to use Media Mail this time, but I'm curious to know what everyone else does because I know I'm not the only one in this situation. Is it possible to get delivery confirmation or insurance on Media Mail? Do you suck it up and pay more for shipping out of your own pocket? If it were just a dollar or two I might be OK with that, but I'm not really interested in losing more than 10 percent of what I'm getting from Amazon to cover shipping.
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appleshoelace From: appleshoelace Date: March 25th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't sell things on Amazon, but what I find odd is that when I buy books from UK Amazon sellers, the postage costs are the same for tiny books as for huge heavy books, and also the same for books posted from the UK as they are for books posted from the States. And if I buy two items from the same seller, which come in the same package, I still have to pay two lots of postage. So it makes no sense.

I've bought huge heavy textbooks from American sellers, and I'm sure their postage cost way more than the standard £2.75 (but then I imagine they still must be making more money than they'd make from selling on the US Amazon, because otherwise why would they be selling on the UK one?). And equally I've bought little books from the UK, where the postage would have cost way less than £2.75. It seems a daft way of doing it.
pootski From: pootski Date: March 26th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes. It is true. They keep a good portion of what the customer pays for shipping. Half/Ebay does this as well, though.

pootski From: pootski Date: March 26th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Hrmm... I think it usually takes 3 months for listings to expire. But you might be on to something - I haven't had any listings expire for a while, and usually a few expire every week. I wonder if they stopped doing that, or if it's a glitch, or what.

You can totally get D.C. and insurance on Media. The package just has to be more than 3/4" thick. I buy D.C. on anything over $10. Some people say to put D.C. on everything so you'll never ever get scammed by a customer claiming non-receipt, but it's cheaper for me to just eat the cost of a lost-in-mail book or two per year. I rarely buy insurance, but if it's worth around $100 or more, I do.

If I have a heavy book, it has to be worth a certain amount for me to sell, so I can figure in the extra shipping costs.
emperor_fool From: emperor_fool Date: March 26th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty sure Amazon Marketplace's basic shipping allowance is only meant to cover Media Mail--they specify on the buyer's page that that's how things will be sent with basic shipping. (At least they used to--I hope they still do, because I just moments ago listed a bunch of heavy books, and there's no way I want to be sending them first class.) I generally use Media Mail unless it's a very light book. And no, they don't offer delivery confirmation. Only once in six years of selling have I recieved a complaint that the book didn't arrive. When I've ordered books this way, they've mostly come by Media Mail as well. I do offer the "expedited shipping" option w/ my books as well, for which they give you $6.99, but if anyone takes it for the behemoths I listed today, I'll lose money on it. (Not as much as I'll make on the books themselves, though, is the theory.)
pootski From: pootski Date: March 26th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
They post office won't even let you mail a heavy book (heavier than 13 ounces) via First Class, so you'd never need to worry about that.

Just to not cause confusion to other readers, Amazon doesn't give you money enough to cover Delivery Confirmation, but you can purchase it from the post office. As I said, it's not worth it for me to put that on cheap books, but for books over $10, I like that little bit of scam-prevention - because there are people out there who will get the book and then try to get their money back. I think I average about 1 book lost in mail per 150.

As for expedited shipping, the nice thing about Amazon is that when you your books, you can choose whether or not to offer Expedited - on each individual book. So you can make a judgement call when you're listing as to whether or not it would be worth it for you to send Expedited. Some people even like to keep a Priority Mail envelope by their desk so they can easily judge whether or not a book will easily fit in there (because it's a flat rate if it fits in the envelope, but if not, it can get very expensive, depending on how far away the customer is).

On Half.com, however, you can't pick and choose which books to offer Expedited. You either offer that on all of your books, or none. That's why a lot of Half.com sellers just don't bother with it. Who would want to risk having to send that 5 lb. coffee table book Priority Mail to Hawaii?

(This all has not been meant not as a means of arguing with E-F, in case it comes off that way, but as further education for anyone who is curious).
pootski From: pootski Date: March 26th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
"They" post office? Oy. Sorry. I just got 5 hours of sleep for the 4th night in a row. I should probably not type anything until I get a good night's sleep.
pootski From: pootski Date: March 26th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ugh. Paragraph 3 should say:

"As for expedited shipping - the nice thing about Amazon is that when you LIST your books, you can choose whether or not to offer Expedited - on each individual book".

LOL at my very last sentence in that post. WTF was I doing?? Just...nevermind.

This is FiddlerCrab, by the way, for anyone wondering who this particular moron is. Yeah, it's THAT moron.
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