I have been selling books (formerly CDs and DVDs) on Amazon for over a decade, earlier than that on eBay. I have seen some changes.
Profitability: Much better back then. The fees were lower. I could also find inexpensive books more easily, as there were fewer people looking for them (for a while, everyone started scanning books like crazy, that seems to have subsided somewhat). There was more competition in terms of the number of sellers, but it did not seem ultra-competitive like now because the big betterthriftHPBgoodwill sellers were not a problem back then like they are today.
Shipping: Slightly more expensive today, but Media Mail comes with tracking now, which was extra back then. The $3.99 shipping charge did not cover the cost of shipping back then and still does not today. If Amazon would accept USPS tracking numbers as proof of delivery, things would be much better, but as it is shipping is an area where things have gotten slightly better.
Seller Support: Mediocre at best then; atrocious today. I will not romanticize the seller support people who were around back then; they were not very good. The fact that the current ones are even worse is amazing, because I thought seller support was bad a decade ago.
Buyers: More scammers today, but there were some back then. With no tracking on Media Mail, it actually made it somewhat easier on scammers, because sellers had no idea whether something had been lost or scammed. Today, the fact that everything is tracked just makes sellers angry because we know we have been scammed. Amazon always has had the buyer’s back, not the seller’s. Feedback was more emphasized back then. I got between 5% and 10% to leave feedback when I first started on Amazon. Today it is about 1%.
Payment structure: I can also manually transfer still, but rarely have I had to do so. Fee structure on the other hand was certainly better back then. Amazon’s fee increase last year was just greed, exactly what sellers have come to expect.
Vs. eBay: Hard one to answer. eBay had many more buyers and sellers back then and was a bustling auction marketplace. I rarely listed anything that did not sell first time, and I was not one of those $0.99 auction sellers. However, you could sell things on Amazon for more money, closer to retail price; it would just take longer. eBay went downhill for years, so much so that I gave it a break for a couple of years. But, for me, eBay has almost become better than Amazon in the past year. I am doing brisk business there while my Amazon sales have actually been declining since August. It could be that so few sellers have stuck with eBay that there is less competition. But what I do know is that eBay has less in fees. Selling a $20 book on eBay will see me make $2 more than selling the same book for the same price on Amazon. I can also still sell CDs and DVDs on eBay. All in all, Amazon has pretty much always been better than eBay.
Everyone generally sees the past with rose-colored glasses, but I think Amazon had a rosier tint to it back then.