Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2005 Issue

Using Overstock.com Auctions

A search for antiquarian and collectible books on Overstock.com


By Carl Burnham

As booksellers, we are always seeking new avenues to market our items to attract new customers. Overstock.com is one such avenue that we have explored for listing books on auction. Publicly traded on NASDAQ as OSTK, the Utah based company Overstock is a closeout retailer for brand-name items at discounted prices. Through their website, Overstock serves as an online distributor for suppliers to use to sell off their oversupply of inventory through shopping, books, music, movies, and travel sections. Recently, Overstock has expanded into providing a marketplace for buyers and sellers to come together through auctions. You may have also seen one of several commercials by Overstock that has the spokesperson Sabine Ehrenfeld, a model, behind a stark white background. Ehrenfeld has gained quite a following online just from representing Overstock through the national television commercial spots.

The menu structure is similar to eBay's, with the capability to search auctions by Department, and organize results by auctions ending first, newly listed, the lowest priced, the highest priced, fewest bid, and most bids. Each auction sort page also displays sellers, their ratings, and time left for each auction.

The categories which will be of interest in the auctions section will be primarily Books, Collectibles, and Entertainment Memorabilia. The active items that were listed in these categories were 5,206 Books, 6,364 Collectibles, and 476 items in Entertainment Memorabilia. The highest price book listed was an unpublished story by Hunter Thompson, going for $2,999 (no bids). The next highest book appeared at $299. A random search on "Franklin Library" (popular with our customers) revealed no books. A search on "signed" came up with 52 books. To be fair, this analysis was done on a Monday, the day after Easter, so there may usually be more items listed for auction.

By comparison, on the same day eBay listed 570,659 Books, 1,744,496 Collectibles, and 292,271 Entertainment Memorabilia items. The quantity of listings should be no surprise considering that eBay recently celebrated its tenth year anniversary online and has steadily increased its market. The highest price book listed was a Webster's Holy Bible and Companion Book from 1833 going for $18,500 (no bids). The next highest book that appeared was for the same price. The same search on Franklin Library revealed 459 books listed, while "signed" displayed 10,362 books.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions