How to condition used books for Amazon

Welcome back to Book Flipper University! Today we’re going to show you how to properly determine a book’s condition to prepare to sell it on Amazon. When selling on Amazon, we have to follow their rules, and because Amazon has all the information about their condition guidelines, textbook guidelines, and international media guidelines available on the Seller Central, we won’t bore you with all the details today. But we are going to cover the basics with you to get you started. 

First things first, when you scan in a book, confirm that the ISBN matches the product listing on Amazon perfectly. Make sure if it says it’s a softcover book, it’s a softcover book. Check to see if it’s an instructor’s edition or a complementary copy. If it’s a textbook, make sure it’s not an international version that can’t be sold as a US edition.

Next, let’s determine its condition. We err on the side of caution as we don’t want to ever find ourselves in a bind trying to prove a book we purchased at a thrift store is in fact new from a publisher. Plus, Amazon puts restrictions on some books in new and like new condition—sometimes because of the publishers—so for the most part we recommend you list books as very good, good, and acceptable.

Don’t overthink this step. We’ve found that people don’t tend to pay that much more for a book in good versus very good condition—though they may pay more for good over acceptable—so don’t be too concerned. Just focus on these four key things and don’t worry about spending any time cleaning up or improving books by erasing marks, fixing pages, or eliminating odors.

  1. Check for price tags or price marks and either remove them or cover them up with a white label.
  2. Check and see if the book is square on all sides, versus bent or warped in any way. If it is warped, flip through to make sure it’s not badly water damaged. If it’s not, proceed but that book is likely acceptable at best.
  3. Check to see if there is any damage, bends, or tears to the softcover or hardcover dust jacket, and quickly flip through the book to look for bent or torn pages. 
  4. While you’re flipping through pages, check for any writing, highlighting, or markings in the book. If there’s any highlighting or writing, it can’t be considered very good. If there are several noticeable marks, we’d recommend erring on the side of caution and choosing “acceptable.”

Now here are a few examples from our batch:

Our first book was a softcover in pristine condition. The book was square all around, there were no bends or creases on the cover or pages, and even though there were sections to permit note-taking in the book, there was no writing in the book. We listed that book as very good.

Our next book was a hardcover with a dust jacket, but there was a little ripple on the back that suggested a bit of liquid had touched the book. Flipping through the pages there was just a little bit of highlighting, so we listed that book as good condition.

Our third book, another softcover had a few minor dings on the cover and a little scuff and bend in one of the corners but no markings or dog-eared pages inside, so we marked this book as good.

A few books later we had a former library book. Because of the additional stickers and markings that come with once being a part of the library rotation, the best you’ll mark these no higher than good. We also always make sure to mention that these were once library books in the description because we’ve found that some people care. 

And that’s about it! You’ll make the condition call as you list each book before you price and sticker it, so now you have the basics of what to look for. That’s all for this week, and we hope to see you next time on Book Flipper University.

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