The Amazon deal I can’t stomach: is this business model sustainable?

Every time I try, the same thing happens: I’m ready, willing and able to sell my second-hand books via Amazon but the terms and conditions make me choke. It makes me wonder if this business model is sustainable.

At home, we’re big Amazon customers – and by big I mean that our spending on Amazon is into the hundreds, if not thousands, of Euros per year. We use it as our online corner shop. Yet every time I even consider selling a few of the read-once, very good condition novels that have kept me entertained on a flight, or burning the midnight oil, then I end up feeling used and dirty.


Because Amazon seems to have a “give with one hand, take with the other” approach.

  • I list a second-hand book for sale – it’s nearly new, read once, and came from Amazon
  • I’m advised that the “best price” is EUR 2.59 – so I list my second-hand book (in very good condition, read once, etc…) for the same
  • Amazon’s commission is EUR 2.39
  • And I’m supposed to pay EUR 0.36 in tax

That’s where I abandon ship: because I’m going to make a loss on the sale. Does. Not. Compute.

As a consumer, I love Amazon – but being treated as a second hand business partner, the opposite (at best) is true. What’s the incentive here? And surely I am not alone in feeling so used? Yet Amazon is full of private sellers offering ‘nearly new’ goods at knockdown prices.

It seems like there is an opportunity for Amazon to do more to bring its customers into the community – while doing something good for the environment – but to achieve this, it needs to take a 360-degree view of its relationship with individual customers.

And this brings me back to the ever-present question: Does Amazon have a credible competitor?

Answers please…

 Simon Jones, OnPR, GmbH

DeAnn December 31, 2011 at 3:43 am

Here’s a link to a German site listing several options. I’ve only looked into momox, but for them all of my books were worthless. However they would give me one euro cent if I sent them the books for “recycling”.

Needless to say, I’m still giving my books away to the neighbors.

Simon Jones December 31, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thanks DeAnn … I’m wondering if an English-language book club could work in Munich. Will have to consult the expert, Dorian Dave Dowdy.

Dave Dowdy January 1, 2012 at 8:20 am

Hi Simon,

I suppose a book club could work in Munich. There are certainly enough English language readers around to support something like this. However, this would entail several “club members” who are willing to pool the books they want to sell and somebody, who is willing to put time into organizing which books go where. Also this idea will have to be sufficiently advertised so that others find out about the offer.


Simon Jones January 3, 2012 at 10:56 am

Hi Dave – well, I’m happy to contribute some books. Perhaps another idea would be to create a Book Readers’ Club, where people could get together and discuss novels. Or perhaps I’m getting old.

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