How I describe condition when listing books…

By Sharon Fussell, January 28, 2016

One of the most contentious issues when selling used books is how to honestly describe the condition of that book.

The main problem being that condition is subjective.

What you may judge to be  ‘very good’, the buyer may think it’s merely ‘good’ and will complain if the condition description does not meet their expectations.

Although, I have to admit, I am often annoyed at buyers who purchase a book described as ‘good’, and complain it is not in ‘new’ enough condition to give as a gift!

Items marked as ‘good’ can have a plethora of ‘faults’ and still come within Amazon’s guidelines for that condition description.

For example, used books in good condition might have previous owners’ names or slight cover rips, or inner markings such as underlining.

The issue is that most buyers do not have a clue what something described as ‘good’ is, and so can have unrealistic expectations on how a book should look.

I often buy other sellers’ books to send to my customers: this means I do not actually see or handle books before they are sent directly to my customer.

Sometimes, books are returned to me from customers for a variety of reasons, but often condition is not mentioned as to why they returned their book. For example, they might return a book because they have changed their minds about owning it.

I have to say, I have been quite shocked at some of the conditions of books they have received direct from a seller, and yet they haven’t moaned about them. I, for one, would have.

That said, I can only think that most customers are either happy with their purchase, or perhaps feel they didn’t pay that much for the book.

I can only go by feedback and complaints, of which adverse comments are rare!

Personally though, when I list books that I am sending out myself, I do always try and be very honest with my descriptions. I would rather describe a book as ‘good’, but in actual fact is ‘very good’: that way the buyer is happy with their purchase.

Perhaps under-describing books in this way is better on the whole, because that way you might be less likely to receive adverse feedback or complaints.

What do you think?

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