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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 4 - August 16, 2004 - ISSN 1539-5065    6 of 7

A Look at Half, Part 3: Letters from Readers

By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com
August 16, 2004




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Part 1 of "A Look at Half" can be found online at http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y04/m08/i11/s03

Part 2 of "A Look at Half" can be found online at http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y04/m08/i12/s04

In preparing the series to examine eBay's decision to shut down Half.com, we put out a call to readers of the AuctionBytes-Update newsletter to see what they had to say about the changes. Here's a sampling of letters we received.

Dear Ina,
I was alerted by an iOffer.com member that you were looking for present or former Half.com sellers for a future article. Briefly, I sold books on half.com for over two years. Even as a very small, part-time seller, I did well. That ended with the announcement that Half.com would be closing. Sales tanked, and I had to look elsewhere.

Because I'm a Mac user, and eBay's listing software isn't available to me, I did comparatively little listing there. The time involved trying to set up auctions just wasn't worth it. My photo host's very simple listing program helped, but had problems, and was eventually destroyed by eBay's massive changes. Another program, for which I paid, was similarly destroyed. That ended my relationship with eBay. I turned to Amazon and was doing much better than on Half.com, but that site is also having problems and sales are declining.

At the moment, my site of choice is iOffer. Traffic doesn't nearly equal that of the big sites, but membership is growing, and I do have high hopes for it. The site is well designed to make listing and selling as trouble-free as possible. I think that the iOffer staff looked at everything that eBay was doing wrong and determined to do it right. I have a small book store there, at no cost, including excellent quality gallery photos. I will be opening another store in the Fall, for other types of items. There's no guarantee, of course, that iOffer will succeed where so many other sites have failed, but I think it has an excellent chance.

I look forward to reading your article.
C.

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Ina:
Thanks for your great newsletter!
You solicited comments on Half.com's closing. To be brief, I am VERY annoyed because of two things: (as I understand it)

  1. I can't get in "indefinite" listings unless I open up a storefront and pay $10/month
  2. Half.com automatically did my pricing research for me (showing me what the same item in same condition was selling for), and eBay doesn't do this. When I pointed this out to eBay support their answer was a snooty "There are other ways of getting this information." Sure there are, there are other ways of getting to Asia from the USA besides flying, but I wouldn't want to row ;-/

Thanks,
Jim

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Hi there,
You invited readers to write about Half . com closing down, so here I am!

I am very sorry to see this happen, as I have had phenomenal success selling books at this site. It is very very fast and easy to list, the books stay listed until sold, and buyers prepay so there is no emailing back and forth, etc. I think eBay has a definite winner here and should leave the site running! Listing books on eBay requires going through all the listing pages, paying a listing fee, emailing customers, paying a final value fee, and then, if the buyer pays with PayPal, another fee from them! When you sell new books at discount at $2.00-$5.00, there is very little left for the seller after paying all those fees and makes it hardly worth the time and effort. Also , Half.com is great for buyers, too! You can browse thousands of items and buy it immediately, with no bidding worries.

I really, really wish eBay would keep the site running. Anyone for starting a petition to do this? I would definitely sign!

Thanks for lending your ear,
Kathy

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Hi Ina
I have just a few books on Half.com and usually list on eBay but have moved my entire inventory over to ioffer.com. Probably won't sell on eBay at all including when they close Half.com.

Thanks for keeping us updated.
Marsha

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Ina:
I just read your first article on the demise of Half.com and was very interested to read about Marie's experience. I could relate to many things she shared as we started out the same way. However, we have taken a different path. We have not been as aggressive to grow our book sale business because we have also been growing another Website at the same time and we simply have limited resources (time!).

The main reason I wanted to reply is to let you know that we have had a wonderful experience with Abebooks.com. When we started out, we listed items on Amazon (without the Pro Merchant account) and on Half.com. Most of our sales were with Amazon and after several months we upgraded to the Pro Merchant account so that our Amazon listings would not expire. In an effort to keep things running efficiently and profitably, we kept looking for a better solution. When we found out about Abebooks, we made the switch. The great thing about Abebooks is that we are basically paying the same total fees that we would pay for a Pro Merchant account and we are getting listings on numerous Websites, specifically Amazon, BNBQ, Abebooks and Half, while using one system to manage all of them. All we have to do is use an offline tool to manage our listings and they are automatically sent to each of the Websites. Our sales have continued to grow and it has been very profitable. We have now started to build our book business yet still only have about 500 titles listed.

While not enough to support us at this point, it is definitely now worth our efforts. It takes us virtually no time to process orders. We use dazzle from endicia.com to process our postage, which gives us discounted or free Delivery Confirmation ($0.13 for media mail, free for Priority), and we don't have to go down to the post office and stand in line (as the MasterCard ad says - priceless!).

I hope that this will serve as an encouragement to those that are concerned about the demise of Half.com. Personally, I do not think that eBay will be as big in the book business as it has been in the past and for those who want to continue in this business, I hope they take some time to check out Abebooks.com and endicia.com. Without these two valuable tools, I seriously doubt we could do this. Thanks for all the great stuff you send out every day. I read your Newsflash every single day and have made many changes to our business model based upon items and articles in your newsletter. Take care.

Still selling books!
Jay

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This site has been ongoing for about 5 or 6 yrs & is mostly free.
CK out: http://www.booksbybid.com

AuctionBytes provides a discussion board devoted to books and bookselling at http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=5 and also publishes The Bookologist Web site and email newsletter http://www.bookologist.com

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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