Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2005 Issue

Using Overstock.com Auctions

A0514

Bookseller's home page on Overstock.com


When listing an item for auction the procedure is very similar as on eBay, except there are fewer pages to scroll through. Insertion, closing, and auction upgrading (such as highlighted in bold, featured, or reserve price set) fees are somewhat less than eBay. For example, a book that sells on auction for $9.99 will have a 23 cent insertion fee (compared to 35 cents on eBay), plus 3.25% charged as the closing price (compared to 5.25% on eBay). If an item does not sell, no closing fee is charged. A seller can specify a "Make It Mine" price once their rating gets above a minimum initial level, which can be compared to the "Buy It Now" feature offered by eBay. A free listing software (OLister) is available for download which makes it easier to list multiple items at one time.

With Overstock, there is no way to search on completed auctions to do research on an item as with eBay (although you have to be a registered user and logged in to access). Web pages are sometimes slow to load, likely due to the site utilizing cgi scripts and large images. Even slower page loads have been a common complaint with eBay as well, which uses a banner ad service which bogs down web pages (I view this as a form of spam). In addition, having to login multiple times to do searches can be cumbersome. The monetary benefits of such measures must continue to outweigh the hassles it brings. As we utilize cable for the Internet with fast processors, I can only imagine the frustrating experience that dial up users continue to have with such sites from a usability standpoint.

Overstock has a long way to go before becoming a viable mainstream alternative to Goliaths such as eBay. We have had some initial sales through Overstock, and our overall impression is lukewarm. It provides an additional avenue for booksellers to market to attract customers and is relatively inexpensive and simple to list with.

Carl Burnham can be reached online at www.SouthpointBooks.com

Rare Book Monthly

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