How do you price the unpriceable?

By Sharon Fussell, May 29, 2013

PricingI am often asked is how to price items that have no price comparison on Amazon. It’s a great question!

You may well have come across description pages where there are no offers because there are none of that particular title for sale.

So what do you do in terms of pricing?

Well, unfortunately there’s no easy black and white answer to this because it does depend on what book it is.

For example, if there are no other copies this makes the item quite ‘rare’… although that doesn’t usually mean you can put a ridiculous price against it.

With that said there are certainly occasions where you may be able to sell a book for several hundred pounds.

A dilemma regarding book selling is that often it’s not about selling products as cheap as you can, it’s about getting the best possible price.

On the one hand you want to price as high as you can-without pricing it out of the market. On the other you don’t want it to languish on shelves waiting to be purchased because you have asked too much for it.

So if there is not competition for an item you want to sell, how much should you charge?

If you have no idea of its worth you can look for the book online, outside of Amazon, to see if other sites are selling it. Literally just search by the title/isbn/publisher in Google.

If other sites are selling a similar copy see how much they’re charging. You can use this price as a guide.

Remember, if other sites are selling the same item for example in the USA for a few dollars, you can still price your item higher on Amazon.

Few buyers shop around other sites before buying books. Few would want to buy off other sites, especially if unknown to them and few would want the bother of purchasing from USA or other countries if an item is available on a UK site.

Before pricing an item with no other competition you can look at factors that may help you decide:-

* Is there a sales ranking and is this high or low?

A low number perhaps under one million means an item is likely to be in demand.

* What condition is the product?

The better the condition the more likely it will be purchased.

* How niche is it?

The more unusual the genre the more likely the ranking will be ‘high’ and thus not in demand – but it only takes one person in the world to want it,

* Is there another copy available with another isbn, perhaps an earlier or later printout?

If so this will likely devalue your product unless there is something special that distinguishes it from the other other – e.g a signed copy, a special edition, an unusual cover, for example a special printing with a leather cover not a standard hardback or soft back cover.

* Are there other copies with alternative covers, e.g paperback/hardback?

You might find that your copy has no competition, but a title with a different cover is available and has a price on the system. You can use that as a guide.

The same applies if there are several copies of the same title with different publishing dates. In the case of study books if there is a new edition, and the edition you want to list has no sales ranking, then there might not be much point in listing that item.

What if you have a niche item with no sales ranking does this mean no one will purchase it? Will it be on the system for years before it does sell?

Well not necessarily, I have often sold items with no sales ranking, and quickly too.

I do not really just pluck a figure out of the air to price an item but try to make an educated guess. I think of what I would be happy to receive, and what price I think a buyer will be happy to pay.

Here is a guide based on proven sales.

  • Paperback novel: price between £6.99 and £12.99.
  • Hardback novel: price between £12.99 and £24.99
  • Paperback/Hardcover non fiction niche products: price between £24.99 and £49.99.

You can also use recommended retail prices as a guide.

There is a saying amongst online book sellers, if you sell a book quickly, you have priced too low and if it is taking ages to sell you have priced too high.

Neither needs be true, it just takes one person somewhere in the world to want your copy, if it is very niche this may take a while.

If a buyer really wants a title of a book and yours is the only copy available, or the best priced item available, or the copy described as in the best condition available-then your book will sell. It may take minutes, days, weeks, months or years once submitted for sale, there just no real way of knowing.

Remember that not all buyers base their choice on price alones so you can often price a product high and refresh prices on a regular basis. Keep lowering it at regular intervals, perhaps every three months or so.

Just remember if you price too cheaply you may lose out if it sells quickly!


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