What did selling on Amazon used to be like?--that is, "back in the day."


Don’t forget the auctions. Those were pretty cool.


You are so right on.


You are so correct.

Back before the Chinese and outsourced support.,Amazon was better for US sellers.
Now it is worse.

The Chinese own the product market now.

If Chinese product disappeared from the USA market,Walmart would have to close up stores.


I could’ve sworn I already responded to this thread but since I can’t see anything at 3:30 AM I’ll do so now.

I started selling here in 2003 as a very small hobby seller. By 2005 I decided to run it more as a business despite my miniscule size.

A) Profitability: I have had to adjust my pricing structure several times over the past 15 years. I am actually more profitable now as I always keep up with shipping costs and adjust prices when needed.

B) Shipping: Of course shipping costs have been going up annually. Not only in postage but in purchasing shipping supplies as well.

C) Seller Support: Used to be much better in some ways. When I had my sole A-Z the Amazon employee worked with me so that I understood where I fouled up so that I could fix that similar problem in the appropriate listings.

D) Buyers: As I only sell books (although I once dabbled in games without issue) I find that if the book has been adequately described there are no problems. It is when Amazon merges two different editions into the same record that problems occur. Book buyers are more understanding of that than buyers in other categories so I have seen no change.

E) Payment structure: Minimal change that affects me.

F) Vs. the Bay: I used to sell on many of the online bookselling platforms, most notably Amazon, ABE, Alibris, Biblio, and Choose Books. I dabbled with the Bay for about a year until they banned me of a fee dispute. My book sales there were minimal. In fact, Choose Books and Biblio often outsold them. In 2007 I dropped ABE and Alibris as there fees were killing me and the sales volume was just not worth it. I stayed with Biblio and Choose Books since they had simple fee structures and did not charge monthly fees. I stopped using Choose Books only because they were bought out by ABE. I am still with Biblio.

One of the keys to surviving on any online venue is to adapt to the change. Last year when Amazon raised the BMVD fees I was prepared as I had been anticipating such a move for at least five years. I was actually relieved that it happened.


Boy – how things have changed for me there. I started with distance selling before the internet, but only on a very small scale. When I started the USPS service was called Book Rate (Special 4th Class Mail). Delivery Confirmation didn’t exist. Now Delivery Confirmation doesn’t exist again, but that’s because they finally decided the service was good enough to be called tracking.

My philosophy on shipping charges was to break even on the average. I charged $3.50 in 1995. I still charge $3.50 on some of the sites I use. And postage has gone up every single year. Packaging has gone up every single year*. My packaging has undergone several changes, searching for best protection for least money. Now my philosophy on shipping charges is to keep the losses under control.

*come to think of it, there might have been one or even two years when Book Rate/ Media Mail didn’t increase.


Could be a book in the works on this topic - been around here since 2005;

– This will always be what you make it. If you can acquire inventory as low as possible, your profit will be maintained. Biggest factor that effects the profits is the TIME involved - whether waiting on seller support, dealing with the MANY “glitches” in the past two years, etc. It is a matter of “going with the flow” - don’t waste time complaining about no payment transfer, trying to fix item pages…just move on.

-Shipping (cost and accessibility)
— one area that has seen a great improvement. Being able to print from Amazon instead of 3rd party source. The ability to actually set shipping templates for areas and items that weigh different. The “old” $3.99 and price/lb were killers back in the day. Heavy toys - electronics etc were hard to ship without raising the product price to cover it. One thing Amazon should do is implement a SCAN FORM for the post office. Seems someone should be able to write that code.

-Seller Support
— definitely different over the years. Now it is 97% SCRIPT replies from seller support. If SS can not locate an issue in “the book”…you get the scripted INTERNAL TEAM will handle it reply. MANY MANY cases go unanswered, huge lack of follow up on Amazons part. But then again, do you spend hours/days begging them to reply.

— Of course with the recent return program, scammers are raising daily. In general, I think that buyers(good ones) here are still searching/find/buy compared to the flea market type on eBay. Many will pay 25-50% more then the same item on eBay.

-Payment structure(s)
— Being grandfathered - the daily requests are still very helpful. Past year the “glitches” are appearing more and more frequently. Surprised Amazon has not really raised the $39.99 for pro-merchant yet.

-VS eBay
— Hard to compare, I no longer sell on there. When I left I had 6,000 items, having a store there was great. Once they started with PAYPAL and then with the price per listing, Was not profitable for me to stay. To have 6,000 sit in a store front and pay 20¢ per item each month would be costly.

-Anything else that comes to mind!

MANY OTHER THINGS do come to mind;

#1 The HUGE SNAFU with toys that eliminated MANY MANY sellers because some techno-nerd or BOT changed a code. This put a huge number of ASINs into a restricted category and AMAZON had to lose MILLIONS on this screw up. Slowly coming back - a lot have gone elsewhere to sell.

#2 Also with toys was the SNAFU with the NEW YORK law on TOY GUNS. Again eliminated huge amount of ASINs and again, had to impact Amazons profits in that category. Seriously - a LEGO TOY BLASTER (ONE INCH in length) looked to much like a real gun?

#3 PHOTOS for item detail pages…back in the day was out of control. You could actually add a photo of your pet dog to the item page and it TOOK! But now it goes to far to the other side…you need the 14 URLs from the manufacture that prove the photo matches the item. Plus you need to have the “power” as a seller of the item to actually change it. This is sometimes determined simply by the seller support agreeing to the photo(even if they have no clue). That toy car description really doesn’t match the photo of that woman in the bikini.

#4 Continuing with Item Pages…back in the day it was “better”… now the item pages are so screwed up. Again, not worth the time going round and round with “seller support”. I have had titles that state “paperback ( hardcover 2003)”…hello??? really? Or allowing a item to actually say NEW in the title, but options to list as used. Yes, Amazon doesn’t “create” the listings, but if you are going to “police” something, this would be a start.

#5 So after the TOY SNAFU…same year Amazon comes out with the MUSIC SNAFU. Eliminates, NOT hundreds but THOUSANDS of ASINs because you can’t prove that yardsale buy you got on CDs are not fake. BIG(HUGE) killer of the bottom line Amazon. Someday you may realize EVERYTHING can be counterfeited.

#6 BOTS – this could be another 5 pages of info. This automation is creating more havoc then good. These “bots” have become Amazons “INTERNAL TEAM” and seems to be a lack of HUMAN supervision over the bots actions.

#7 Buyer INFO – a simple “code” can be written to insure that the order you get has a VALID ADDRESS recognized by the postal system.

#8 STOREFRONT – totally screwed this up in the past couple years when Amazon changed your storefront to show BEST SELLERS and no option to see RECENTLY ADDED ITEMS. As a seller, if you have regular buyers that would like to shop your store, now there is no way to show them the new items added. Leaving us 3rd party sellers with a poor marketing strategy. Again, a SIMPLE code (much less then what was involved in the new forum).

#9 NEW CONDITION NOTES — Eliminating these hurt some item pages, this will always be a topic of discussion. This comes from the title description that may have varieties or questionable description - notes sometimes eliminated the confusion.

#10 AZ Claim and Feedback program needs a major overhaul. What does and doesn’t effect metrics. When/how a buyer can post these. TOO MANY good 3rd party sellers are CANNED because of this system and then you see others that have 20% feedback rating etc and are still selling.

oops…forgot a major one… AMAZON PHONE APPS!!! “I ordered it NEW, not used(from my smart phone and I didn’t go past the first page)…please send new item…”

Sorry this message was so long…just 13 years, need to vent a little. Thanks for the post. :slight_smile:


Unfortunately, due to postal rate increases and the current cost of international shipping (and the fact that Amazon has not increased it’s shipping allowance to keep up with the rise in costs) we no longer offer international shipping.



Ebay was more than a little bit dishonest when Meg whitman was at the helm and John Donahoe.

Paypal was just a Convenient way of them charging double {for each transaction}
It is difficult to turn a profit on Amazon due to the High fees, for selling books anyway.
Have not found a ‘perfect platform’ both are good, due to the high visibility they have


You can now set your own shipping rate. We do two tier, one for small pkgs and one for larger. None over 3 pounds, because becomes too expensive.


Easier to get anything/everything done. Always spoke to SS in USA. Full interest in 3P sellers. It was nice.


I started here in 2002, selling used books and media. VHS tapes too sheesh.

At that time 3p sellers were not able to sell items in new condition. One pound by priority mail when it was first initiated by the post office in the 90’s was $3.20 anywhere in the country. Two pounds I think was $4.20 or so.

Sometimes when listing some uncommon book or cd, one would come across a pending pre-order on the listing page, giving you the option to instantly sell your item at the buyer’s pre-order price which was often quite high.
I had forgotten this. it was called “Buyer in Waiting”


I go back to 2005 and it was wonderful! I miss those days…


I have been selling books since 2000. The difference is that shipping has increased significantly, but the 3.99 shipping rate still applies.

“Back in the day ,” you could sell a book for .50 and the media mail rate was only 1.35. After Amazon took their l.45 of the sellers shipping (which they still do), you could still make a decent profit on books sellers bought at yard sales, book sales, etc. Today, you loose money on shipping on each and every sale, so your books must be priced higher than 5.00 for a seller to make any profit.

“Back in the day,” the 1.35 media mail did not include tracking unless you paid an additional .55. Customers rarely reported an unshipped book, so unless my selling price was more than 10.00 I didn’t purchase the additional money. Customer complaints were rare, and except in one of my cases, were valid. One customer reported an undelivered book, and was surprised when I told her it was delivered at 2:30 five days prior to her back door. Tracking has stopped those dishonest people from taking advantage of the A-Z promise.

Buyers today are more difficult to deal with, and can be ridiculous on their expections. Feedback is important, yet I rarely receive it any more. I have sold over 12,000 books over the years and only have received 1200 feedbacks.

Because sellers made money on the shipping, thousands of companies began hoarding the book sales, paying people to stand in line for hours and swipe through the sales grabbing anythng and everything available. Those sellers had money and became huge sellers here, squeezing out those of us selling our small quantities, making it nearly impossible for individuals to find good deals at publisher overstock sales and book sales. Nice for the buyers, but it made it impossible for a small seller to get ahead. The penny books became insane when sellers began daily underbidding, and continues to this day. Amazon realized they could not compete with people selling brand new books for a penny when their books were much higher. Thats when they did away with .01 sales, and added Prime.

All in all selling books has been a fun project that has neted me at times some nice “pin” money. (A phrase my post depression mother would say meaning money to purchase such items as sewing pins that were needed, but not absolutely necessary.


In my experience, change is the one thing in our lives that one can count on. You have the benefit of all of that experience. I’m new here, without the benefit of hindsight. I would suggest that you exploit your knowledge in creating a revised model that meets the challenges of an evolving marketplace. Just sayin :0)


I have been a seller on both Amazon and ebay since 2003, very small seller of mostly media. My profitability is down for mostly the same reasons the others have given, plus I used to make a lot of money selling VHS tapes and DVDs.I am grandfathered in for DVDs but had over 1000 CDs removed. In the beginning we sold books at just above break even to build up feedback. We get most packing materials free so that helps. For shipping I have used Endicia as long as I can remember, so we just took our buckets and scan sheet and left them on the designated counter. If I suspect we might have someone wanting to scam or “rent” a book I use Amazon shipping. We now have a bigger mailbox and less packages to ship so don’t always have to go to post office. Seller support has been OK for me on a technical problem but what I don’t like is having to request exemption to list non-ISBN books and then it’s granted for a few months and have to request again.
Buyers haven’t changed much, there are always a few jerks and probably always will be. Mostly I under grade so feed back is good, but a way smaller percent leave any so my rating percent is really hurt by a 1,2 or 3. Payment structure - I don’t know how to answer that as I am under the old system and can request payment every day if I want to. I don’t sell as much on ebay as I used to, but now that I am retired, I probably will be looking for other categories for merchandise and list on both sites.
I learned a lot about selling from the forums,but I do miss the old forum. Watching the arguments back and forth was fun when I had a stressful day at work or insomnia.


I have been selling since 2003, very profitable until goodwill listings and automatic pricing software and excessive fees were added. Amazon used to be about 90% of my online income now it’s less than 5%


Amazon sucks - eBay is a 5 star site!


Well you know I have been selling since 2005. Back then your account had a lot of freedom as a new seller. Amazon did not hold your funds like they do now. A lot of website changes which was kind of frustrating but you could adapt very quickly. No restrictions on what you could sell as far as intellectual property rights etc. The bad part of listing inventory was back then they would have a two month active life span and then the listings would expire. Then you would have to re-list them again, very time consuming. Seller support was not there for you and that has not changed. The scams come and go just like today. But the good thing is, it is probably less than one percent of sales where scams occur. It all depends on what your selling. It is mostly on items that are either super sought after or what is popular, new and what is in demand today. Seller support does not have at all any third party seller experience so that is bad. Even your veteran well respected seller status doesn’t even matter to them. The past was the same. Ebay has your back about 90% of the time. If you have a great selling track record history, Ebay will stand up for you. The thing that separates ebay vs amazon. Amazon you can sell certain items for a lot more money vs ebay. Because of the customer trust with the amazon website. You are selling on a site with a high reputation. Ebay has a lot more competition with third party sellers because they don’t have as many rules, anything goes pretty much. Amazons failed third party sellers are ebay sellers. Much stricter standards on selling on amazon because you are selling a reputation.


Not looking back in rose colored glasses, but I actually remember huge rebates - yes, gifts of money Amazon used to randomly give sellers. I always considered it a blessing and a bonus. I remember customer service having and actually using “tools” on the front line to help the sellers that served to build all of Amazon’s listings…, They listened and reasoned with you, they could evaluate “other” or “special circumstances” outside of a set list of feedback guidelines and actually helped sellers instead of saying 1. They no longer have tools. 2. They no longer have any power. 3. They no longer can help, but they certainly understand. I think it’s ironic the “Concerned Teams” are named that. Just fluff. For the most part, they really seem cold, aloof, robotic, non-existent and totally unconcerned. As a seller, my stomach sinks whenever I have a cheating, unscrupulous buyer who gets around the feedback guidelines with Amazon’s “help” and seemingly “support” as they get a free pass to kick the cat (hurt us because they’re foul). Yet — with piss poor customer service, with totally useless customer service on the front lines (they can’t do anything beyond being a Walmart greeter) Amazon is an awesome place to do business. And make no mistake – I never expected those huge refunds or bonuses to last – but I had always thought and prayed REAL customer service would get better. It never did. It’s abysmal.


Back in 2001-2002 I could just spend 1 afternoon a week at garage sales for inventory enough to make a good living - before the mega-sellers got going.