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


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.


Started selling in 2002. Back then, my minimum price on a used book/CD was $7.99. I am slowly changing that to $9.99, due to increased postage costs & increased Amazon commission. My net profits have plummeted in the last 2 yr, as I’ve been slow to raise my prices. I no longer sell international, unless the sales price is near $100, in which case, I take a did because of the cost of International Airmail. I’m barred from selling DVDs & popular CDs. Classical/international CDs do continue to sell. In 2017, I may have broken even. With almost 10,000 books (many unique items) listed, I’m not a pro-seller because of the low volume of sales.


I attempted to sell on here maybe in about 2005-2007. I listed about 50 obscure music CDs and 2 months later, none sold and I would have had to relist all of them. I walked. I came back in fall 2010 to sell some obscure VHS tapes and did much better then and the listings didn’t expire.

Back in the earlier days, fewer products had a product page so it was more difficult to get listings on here if you didn’t have a barcode on them (I sell used items). Now I can usually find a page for most items so getting things on here is much better, except how there are brands/categories/products that are quite difficult to get approved for. (lets say I come across a used Pioneer 6 CD magazine for a stereo - can’t sell it because I can’t get approved for Pioneer)


In 2005, Sold Ship Now emails had the condition and comments and a plain text packing slip without them, the recipient’s address as “shipping label,” and the buyer’s real email address as the “reply-to.”

The funds would already be in your seller account when you got the email. In orders, there was no “print packing slip.” There was no “cancel,” only “refund,” because the customer was already charged.

Shipping confirmation was you sending your own email directly to the customer.

You could get Amazon to remove obscene feedback, but you were stuck with it if it was just clearly and entirely a bad product review.


I had forgotten about the big change in the Sold Ship Now notices.

I had my database programed to capture the info from that email to generate an invoice/shipping label.


If the good people would only leave feedback to help offset the scammers, etc.


ebay since 1998 here since 2009. ebay had some bad years from 2010 until 2015 the ceo Donahoe nearly singlehandedly killed the company by driving off sellers with attempts at making it like Amazon. Their philosophy was sellers are a dime a dozen and can always be replaced. Starting with Meg Whitman they said buyer traffic brings the sellers. Well in 2015 they were nosediving as buyers left in droves because many sellers offering unique items were gone. The new ceo to his credit has recognized the problem and has done well correcting it.

Amazon has been a mixed bag. Back in the day you could look forward to being suspended by rogue bots for nebulous reasons and losing sleep and sales over it. It has become more stable in the last year or so. It has also become more restrictive in categories and brands. So the opportunities for sales have dwindled for smaller sellers.


Over the years we always felt that Amazon’s liberal refund policies, encouraged and promoted customer fraud. Slowly, they have to begun to tighten up the process realizing that there are customers who are only out to scam sellers. For a long time, Amazon was the only mail order company that did not accept a scanned delivered item as actually delivered. That policy change in May 2016, was a massive step in the right direction. :train2:


I’ve sold on Amazon many years as a private seller. What I have really noticed is that my sales are much lower due to the incredible prices Amazon Prime can give its customers; there is no way I can compete, most of the time, with Amazons prices. Now, as a very happy Amazon Prime customer, I love this…as a seller, not so much. Amazon is definitely incredible when it comes to customer support and that is why I buy here without worry; but, of course, my customers expect to use things as gifts and then return them after more than a month…returns are definitely higher. As far as undelivered items; as a customer, I have often not gotten what I pay for. It is funny that even the shipping services, knowing of Amazons policies, seem to snatch our items…so our customers are not always lying when they say they did not get items that show as delivered. What I really have noticed is the downturn of sales between November and March, which used to be incredible on toys, have plummeted; but this is true on other markets as well. I still love it here; but more as a customer than seller


Yeah I used to ship everything except the most cheap paperbacks priority mail flat rate. I actually had to get a Rate and Rules hearing to get my local PO to accept flat rate envelopes where the shipping label was over the flap. They want to reject them because putting the label over the flap was “modification” of the envelope.


The rules are much tighter now, and there’s much more you need to know to avoid the pitfalls.

In the mid-2000s I worked for an online bookseller. His instructions were to list against the most popular product page for the book we had, regardless of whether or not it matched, and use the condition notes to indicate when we were selling an outdated edition, or even a completely different book by the same author. Needless to say, we got a lot complaints from angry customers who thought they were buying the book that Amazon was selling, and not the 1927 version of the textbook they needed for class. My job was to accept the return with a restocking fee, while lecturing the customer about the importance of reading condition notes.

He was too cheap to pay for delivery confirmation, which turned out to convenient, as his shelving system was so disorganized that we routinely failed to locate at least 25% of our orders. Our process was to confirm shipment, then take turns looking for missing books. When the customer would start to complain, my job was to repeatedly assure them that their book had shipped and was merely slow in the mail. If we couldn’t find the book before the customer finally lost patience (typically, one month), we’d begrudgingly issue a refund, claiming that the book had been lost in transit.

If a book actually was lost in the mail, however, my instructions were to tell the customer “tough luck,” and complain that Amazon didn’t give them an option to buy insurance, like on eBay. I hated that my job was to lie and cheat, and ultimately left for this reason.

The metrics system was implemented to prevent these kind of shenanigans, which is good, but of course it creates a lot of stress if you’re a low volume seller vulnerable to a run of bad luck. And this, of course, was before intellectual property was being policed as zealously as it is today, so you also have that to run afoul of.

The money, of course, was better because you were buying from (and competing against) people who didn’t use computers and were slow to understand that you could sell things on the Internet. Today, of course, it’s hard to find an auction where everyone hasn’t looked up everything online prior to bidding.