Go with a smile!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Second Hand Books Dot Com Dot Ass Gee

I’m selling a lot of my books in recognition of the fact that I have too many books, that I will never read them, that as far as my ability to widen my horizons through reading is concerned, it has reached the limits of its effectiveness.

I managed to get rid of another 60 books. There was this book exchange in the National Library in April, so I picked out the 60 books that were the biggest and bulkiest, as well as the most resistant to my previous attempts to get rid of them. I could see that physically, my stacks of books reduced by around 40%. It was a good feeling.

They said that you can only dump 30 books at 1 time. That’s OK, I went to 2 different libraries. They want books, you give them books. The more the merrier.

Not surprisingly, the book exchange is an excuse to get rid of books which do not have any more reason to exist – I’m talking about computer books from the 80s and the 90s. I’m not so evil that all of my books were like that – maybe 2 or 3.

I gave away coupons to other people. My coupons were in denominations of 10. I went in yesterday with 30 books to redeem. Of those I redeemed, I wanted 15, and the other 15 were books with resale value. Then I will sell them and then I will convert them into cash.

Recently there had been another online second hand book seller: an alternative to ebay. It’s called www.secondhandbooks.com.sg. It was a fledgling site at that time, so I thought I’d list some of my books on that site. I think I had 200+ books late last year. You sell a lot of books in the beginning when you’ve just started listing your stuff, and now, after sales on both that site and ebay (and minus the 60 that I got rid off through the book exchange), my inventory of books is down to 100, even though I anticipate that another 20 or so will shortly go online.

I did take a chance on that site. Even though it was very tedious to keep on listing my books, I trusted that site because it looked like it was run by a competent person. At one point, my 200+ books accounted for 25% of the books listed on the site, although that percentage is probably much smaller (maybe 5%).

Later on, I realized that the account with the most number of books listed was the owner of the website. I felt the itch to get some of her books, and so that’s what I did. As time went by, I found out that the server was having a little bit of problems keeping the inventory. Although it was troublesome to keep on listing your books, you could set the system to automatically relist your books every week. Except that I found that up to 20 of my books were not relisted every month, due to some bug in the part of the system which did the relisting. So I shot an email to the owner of the site. To her credit, she obliged to find my missing books and put them back up. But I wasn’t happy with her attitude. She said, “for yr info, when your books have run out of relists, they will be found in the closed auctions section”. That was disingenuous because my problem was precisely that they were not to be found anywhere.

There were some other grouses I had with her website: there were some books in the featured auctions section, and those listed there were exclusively her books. And the other thing was that she put her books up for auction, listing them for up to 14 days, when she could have just used the buy it now feature, and obviated the need for the buyer

So one day I just gave her feedback that complained about all these issues (except for the technical glitch with the relisting – that’s way to embarrassing to talk about in public.) To my surprise, she shot me back an angry email telling me that it was “her prerogative” to put stuff on auction instead of buy it now. And – this was the most alarming of all – she deleted feedback that I left.

Now, guys, you know how ebay works. You know that feedback on ebay is sacred. Deleting feedback is clearly an abuse of power. I cannot think of any abuse of power that’s worse than that (other than disabling my account and the tens of hours of work I put into it). That was ghastly.

I’ll admit that I had some motives for putting my stuff on her website. In the beginning I put up 25% of the listings, and that gives you a great advantage, when you have a website, and 25% of the listings are yours. (In fact that was the reason why she put up the website in the first place – because it would be more effective at selling her books than ebay would ever be.)

So how? I think I’m torn between blabbing to the world about this injustice, and just living with this system that is unfair, because I still get to sell my books. I think I will end up choosing the latter, but I’m also going to hope that she’s going to fall and trip on her face because that’s what she deserves.

Anyway I’ve solved the problems that have been causing my auctions to get “eaten up”. I simply have to ensure that my auction end times are spaced out, and I don’t have two of them ending around the same time as each other, because apparently this will make the batch processing confused.



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