Are you describing your books adequately?

By Sharon Fussell, August 27, 2015

For me, one bone of contention when selling used books is the sometimes-unrealistic expectation from customers regarding the condition of used products.

Sometimes customer expectations are just too high: they’re unhappy when a book arrives in ‘merely’ good condition, as per their order and the item description. Unrealistically perhaps, they want it in a new condition, perhaps to give as a gift.

In many instances, no matter how conscientious you are, no matter what you include in your item descriptions and any points mentioned so customers are aware of any defects, customers may complain and demand a return/refund.

It is frustrating, but perhaps all part of the game when partaking in online selling.

If you are unsure how to describe your used books, Amazon has condition guidelines that may assist you when you are listing…

For a book to be considered a collectible book, it must be signed, a limited first edition, out of print, or have other desirable qualities that could reasonably be assumed to increase the book’s value to a collector.

New books are defined as ‘brand-new, unused, unread and in perfect condition’.

Used books have four different subcategories…

Like New’ is an apparently unread copy in perfect condition. The dust cover should be intact with no nicks or tears. The spine should show no signs of creasing. Pages should be ‘clean and not marred by notes or folds of any kind’. Additionally, ‘books may contain a remainder mark on an outside edge, but this should be noted in the listing comments’.

Very Good’ is a copy that has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages should be intact and not marred by notes or highlighting; and the spine must remain undamaged.

Good’ is a copy that has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, as is the cover (including the dust cover, if applicable). With a ‘Good’ condition book, the spine may show signs of wear, pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include ‘From the library of’ labels.

Acceptable’ is a book that’s a readable copy, with all pages and the cover being intact (the dust cover may be missing). Pages can include considerable notes in pen or highlighter, but notes cannot obscure the text.

Amazon do not accept mouldy, badly stained or unclean books, nor those with missing pages or obscured text. Also, promotional books, including advance reading copies, aren’t accepted, and uncorrected proof copies are prohibited.

But the best rule of thumb you could use when dispatching your book orders is: ‘Would I be happy to receive this book in this condition?’

If so, then send it; if not, then discard it. That way, you should better avoid unhappy customers and bad feedback!


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