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The Official eBay Guide to Buying, Selling, and Collecting Just About Anything

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HAPPY HUNTING™ ON eBay
Aunt Fannie's cameo pin collection...the cartoon-character lunch boxes you had in third grade...that cast-iron doorstop you bought for $2 but is really worth $200....Whether you're a busy buyer, an avid seller, or just a fun-loving browser, you'll find countless collectibles like these on eBay, the world's largest person-to-person online trading community.
Now — in this official primer from the popular Internet site that ...

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The Official eBay Guide to Buying, Selling, and Collecting Just About Anything

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Overview

HAPPY HUNTING™ ON eBay
Aunt Fannie's cameo pin collection...the cartoon-character lunch boxes you had in third grade...that cast-iron doorstop you bought for $2 but is really worth $200....Whether you're a busy buyer, an avid seller, or just a fun-loving browser, you'll find countless collectibles like these on eBay, the world's largest person-to-person online trading community.
Now — in this official primer from the popular Internet site that has revolutionized the collecting world — the experts at eBay unlock the secrets of successful online buying and selling, for everyone from the enthusiastic beginner to the seasoned pro. Featuring an introduction by Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder and chairman, and packed with tips and stories from "eBaysians" all over the country, The Official eBay™ Guide is the only authorized book that shows you how to
* BUY SMART — unraveling the mystery of value, bidding to win, and learning how to spot the really good stuff
* BE A SAVVY SELLER — from writing the perfect item listing to collecting payments from your happy customers
* LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS — top eBaysians, Ambassadors, Power Sellers, and eBay employees lend advice and share secrets for success
* FIND THE GREAT STUFF — how to work garage sales, flea markets, tag sales, estate sales, and even the other kind of auction
Packed with invaluable resources, information, and practical tips, The Official eBay™ Guide also features entertaining stories about the millions of people who make up the eBay community. It's your must-have companion for mastering the art of buying and selling an astounding range of collectibles and items, from the practical to the whimsical.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684869544
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 11/16/1999
  • Edition description: Original
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 793,570
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Fisher Kaiser & Michael Kaiser are collectors, writers, and longtime eBaysians. Laura is Deputy Editor at This Old House magazine. For fifteen years, Michael was an executive at a nonprofit organization. A former art glass dealer, he is now a consultant and writer. The Kaisers live in Manhattan.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

by Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman of eBay Inc.

First, a confession: I'm not a real collector. But I like to consider myself a collector by proxy — someone who's interested in other people's collections. As many people know, my wife, Pam, collects Pez dispensers, and it's become part of the eBay legend that I invented the Web site just so she could pursue this hobby. The truth is, long before I clued in to her Pezmania, I had been thinking about how to create an efficient marketplace — a level playing field, where everyone had access to the same information and could compete on the same terms as anyone else. As a software engineer, I worked for a couple of Silicon Valley companies, and I had even cofounded an early e-commerce site. This got me thinking that maybe the Internet was the place to create such an efficient market. Not just a site where big corporations sold stuff to consumers and bombarded them with ads, but rather one where people "traded" with each other. I thought, if you could bring enough people together and let them pay whatever they thought something was worth (in other words, have them bid in an auction format), real values could be realized and it could ultimately be a fairer system — a win-win for buyers and sellers.

Around the same time, Pam (who was then my fiancée) mentioned that she wished she could find other Pez collectors with whom she could buy and sell dispensers so she could complete her collection. It occurred to me that the Internet might again be the perfect medium for accomplishing this. After all, the Net was becoming pervasive — businesses and households were getting hooked up at an amazing rate. With such a critical mass, you'd be bound to have a few Pez purveyors — and who knows what else? Best of all, the Net was interactive: I could imagine people not only communicating with each other one on one around a transaction, but also sharing information about their passion.

However, when eBay's AuctionWeb (the name was later shortened) launched on Labor Day, 1995, I never dreamed that the site would become the leading Internet destination for people buying and selling just about anything. It all seems more of a happy accident than a grand business design — like that old commercial where the guy with the chocolate bar runs into the guy with the peanut butter and — eureka! — the peanut butter cup is born. Indeed, eBay.com is the perfect convergence of technology and great people. Person-to-person online trading in an auction format is a fascinating concept, but it merely provides an infrastructure for an even more fascinating sociological experiment. There have been millions of positive transactions on eBay, proving time after time that people are basically honest and trustworthy and eager to do a good job. Without the passion and goodwill of collectors and small entrepreneurs, eBay would no doubt have been just a blip at the end of the twentieth century.

I have to admit that it wasn't until almost a year after the first auction that I really understood who our users were. My business partner Jeff Skoll, an analytical powerhouse, had finally talked me into having a focus group, which included people from all walks of life. One of them was a truck driver who said, "I don't use eBay that much — I'm on it only two or three times a day. But my son is on all the time. He has packages coming and going constantly." Then the truck driver and everyone else in the group asked to take a break so they could go check their auctions. Wow! Not only were these people dedicated, but I could see that eBay had become a part of their lives.

Of course, I'd been well aware that we were on to something for some time. I launched eBay on the space my personal Internet service provider allocated to me as a member. After a few months, I was getting so much traffic they kicked me off the personal site. In February of '96, I had to start charging people. My initial goal was just to cover my rising costs of Internet service; I wasn't even thinking profit. People seemed happy to pay for the service, except I was so busy keeping the site going, I couldn't even get to the mail and open the checks that were piling up. That's when I realized my little hobby/experiment had taken on a life of its own. A couple months later, I had to buy my own server and hire a part-time employee to open the mail. We were no longer working out of my house, but this was still very much a start-up company. The three of us worked out of one room and Jeff kept a suit at the office "just in case" he had to meet with some business bigwig. Neither of us quit our other jobs until August of that year.

By the time Meg Whitman joined the company in early '98 as our CEO, we realized that eBay was a collector phenomenon. But, of course, the collectors already knew that — and they guided us. Their fingerprints are all over the site, from policies and categories to chat rooms to the new interface introduced in 1999. We listen to all user suggestions and, as we add and improve our services, we will continue to do so. eBay is today what our members have built and will be tomorrow what they want it to be. I always tell our members "if you don't like something on eBay, change it." Whether you're a collector or dealer or both, the worst thing you can be is apathetic or disaffected.

One of the most unexpected and gratifying aspects of eBay is the impact it's had on people's lives. eBay has given many people a way to achieve success on their own terms, whether that means becoming a self-sufficient businessperson, finding all the lost toys from one's childhood, or simply finding a bunch of like-minded souls. eBay's strength depends on our members' ability to connect with other members of this new global trading community.

That's what this book is all about. The Official eBay™ Guide is the only book authorized by our company. In the following pages, you'll find clear explanations of the ins and outs of the site, tips for selling and bidding smartly, do's and don'ts of eBay etiquette, and strategies for building and maintaining a stellar collection. In short, our goal is to help you the user be as successful on eBay as possible.

I may not be a collector, but I have found a few treasures on eBay, and sweated snipers in the process. In fact, I bought Pam's wedding gift — a rare "Pez pal bride" Pez dispenser, of course — on the site. (The staff then chipped in and bought the matching groom for her in another eBay sale.) Winning that for her was much more of a kick than I expected. And that's really the point of eBay — to have fun. No matter how much the eBay universe expands, I hope we never lose that sense of wonder.

Copyright © 1999 by eBay Inc.

How to Use This Book

Welcome to The Official eBay™ Guide to Buying, Selling, and Collecting Just About Anything. This book's mission is to help you be a successful eBay user. On a point-and-click basis, eBay isn't hard to master. But there's much more to eBay than words and images on a screen. The world's largest person-to-person, auction-format online trading site has spawned, for many people, a new way of life. Getting the most out of eBay means — among other things — mastering new technical skills, searching for amazing stuff (both online and beyond), understanding the economics of the collectibles market, becoming a savvy buyer, perhaps running your own small business, and interacting with other traders (and friends) who make up the eBay community all over the world.

In this book, we attempt not only to demystify the technological intricacies and philosophical underpinnings of eBay, but also to help people get the most satisfaction out of building their collections, no matter what they collect. The book is organized into five sections:

  • Part I: The Thrill of the Hunt gets you started on eBay with information on registering, finding great stuff, and bidding strategies.
  • Part II: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow helps you sell your items on eBay, from writing good descriptions, posting images, and using HTML to thinking through the details of being in business on eBay.
  • Part III: Making Contact covers what happens when the flush of bidding is over — getting items shipped and dealing with problems. And just in case, you can find the help and support you need from eBay staff and your peers.
  • Part IV: You Are What You Collect delves into the heart of collecting, including becoming an expert, sources of antiques and collectibles, and making buys in the field.
  • Part V: Putting It All Together is about the care and feeding of your collection, from keeping track of your eBay activities to documenting your "babies" for their own good.

The book follows a logical progression of its own, but each chapter is also designed to stand alone. This book contains the collected wisdom of many eBaysians, but if you can't find what you're looking for, let us know so that we may include it in a future edition. Success on eBay comes from sharing. Send your feedback and tips for eBay success to: ebayguide@ebay.com.

Copyright © 1999 by eBay Inc.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction by Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman of eBay Inc.

How to Use This Book

Part I

The Thrill of the Hunt

Chapter 1

Welcome to the World's Largest Person-to-Person Online Trading Community

The eBay Revolution: The Mouse That Roared

The Four Pillars of eBay

Who Makes Up the eBay Community?

Before eBay/After eBay

Meet Our Extended Family

Mastering the eBay Way in Five Easy Steps

Why Buying on eBay is Safe

A Nickel Tour of the Site

What Makes eBay Auctions Unique?

Traditional Auction vs. eBay Auction

Chapter 2

The Perfect Setup

You Gotta Be in It to Win It: Technical Stuff

The Need for Speed: Bits and Bandwidth

Registering to Become Part of the eBay Community

What's in a Name?

What eBay Charges Per Item

Going Dutch

Who You Are: Picking a Handle and Password

How eBay Keeps You in the Loop

Community Customs

Why Spam Ain't Kosher

Chapter 3

The Quest for Amazing Stuff

Homing In, Category by Category

The Big List at a Glance

What You Won't Find

Finding What You're Looking For

The No-Frills Search

Follow the Leader: Tracking Like-minded Bidders and Sellers

Personal Shopper

Gallery Hopping and Shopping

Beyond Collectibles: Everyday Wonders

Real Estate Reality Check

The "Great Collections" Connection

Kruse Control

Chapter 4

Let the Bidding Begin

Demystifying the Bidding Process

What It Means to Bid

Retracting a Bid

You Absolutely Positively Have to Have It: Bidding to Win

Capitalism for the Rest of Us

Up and Up: Bidding Increments

Cracking the Bid Code

Understanding Reserves

Dutch Auctions

Do Your Due Diligence

Good Questions to Ask

Part II

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Chapter 5

Putting It on the Block

Details, Please: Listing Your Item for Sale

The Key to Winning Titles

Some Like Plain Vanilla

The Great Listing Checklist

Files with Style: Using HTML

Say It with Pictures

A Host of Options

Off-the-Shelf Software

Chapter 6

Taking Care of Bidness

Name Your Price

Is It Really What You Think It Is?

To Reserve or Not to Reserve?

Establishing Payment Methods and Terms

Perfect Timing

Payments Made Easy

Sorry, You Can't Bid on Your Own Auction

Getting the Shipping Straight

Happy Returns

Final Touches

Forget Something?

Sellers, Please Stand By

Knocking Off Early

Canceling Bids

Your Item Didn't Sell

Building a Business on eBay

Part III

Making Contact

Chapter 7

The Bidding Is Closed — Now What?

Buyer Meet Seller, Seller Meet Buyer

You've Got Mail

Tracking Down Email Addresses

I Want a Cookie

Temporary Parking: Escrow Services

Shipping News: Getting Out the Goods

Ordering Supplies on the Net

Stamp Me — I Must Be Dreaming

Closing the Loop: Leaving Feedback

Chapter 8

SafeHarbor and Happy Trading

Heading for SafeHarbor

Suspicious Minds: Identifying and Reporting Bad Behavior

Stake Your Claim: Insurance Against Fraud

Violations eBay Responds to Automatically

It's the Law: Prohibited, Questionable, and Infringing Items

Protecting Your Privacy

eBay's Privacy Policy

Making Your Experience More Positive

When a Deal Goes South

Best Remedy Prevention

Escrow Services

Who Was That Masked Man? Reaching Out to People Beyond Email

Chapter 9

When You Need a Friend

For Do-It-Yourselfers

By the Boards

eBay Customer Service Boards

Peer-to-Peer Support Boards

Talk the Talk

Giving Back

Part IV

You Are What You Collect

Chapter 10

Collecting Your Thoughts

Why Do People Collect?

Collecting vs. Accumulating

When Does a Collection Start? When Does It End?

Kids' Kollections

Getting Picky: Building and Upgrading

Chapter 11

The Mystery of Value

Separated at Birth: No Two Collectibles Are Exactly Alike

Eight Is Enough: The Collectibles Checklist

Mint to Be

Consult Before You Clean

Distinguishing Price from Value

Car Collecting Caveats

Where Passion Meets Price: Collecting as an Investment

Ready, "Set," Go: Collectors' Series

How Limited Is a Limited Edition?

Chapter 12

Becoming an Expert

Mastering the Details

Training Your Eye — and Ear, Nose, and Fingers

Immersing Yourself in the Market

Research, Research, Research

Chapter 13

Where the Action Is

Making the Rounds

Collector Connections on the Web

Special Sources for Established Dealers

Chapter 14

Out In the Field

Marketplace 101

Dealing with Dealers

Haggling with the Best of Them

Price Check, Aisle Six

Everything's Negotiable

A Tax Break for Dealers

Mood Breakers

Maximizing Your Auction Action

Beyond Negotiating: The Law of Averages

Finders Keepers: Shopping Etiquette

Tricks of Trading

It Happens to Everyone: Buying Mistakes

Part V

Putting It All Together

Chapter 15

My eBay and Other Ways to Keep Track of It All

My eBay

Simple Spreadsheets You Can Create

Chapter 16

Documenting the Goods

Creating an Inventory

Insurance

Appraisals

Questions for the Appraiser

Collector, Appraise Thyself

Coming to Your Town: The Antiques Road Show

You Can't Take It With You

Going Public: Donating to an Institution

Trailblazing a Library

Appendices

eBay Site Map

eBay Category Overview

Index

Read More Show Less

Introduction

First, a confession: I'm not a real collector. But I like to consider myself a collector by proxy -- someone who's interested in other people's collections. As many people know, my wife, Pam, collects Pez dispensers, and it's become part of the eBay legend that I invented the Web site just so she could pursue this hobby. The truth is, long before I clued in to her Pezmania, I had been thinking about how to create an efficient marketplace -- a level playing field, where everyone had access to the same information and could compete on the same terms as anyone else. As a software engineer, I worked for a couple of Silicon Valley companies, and I had even cofounded an early e-commerce site. This got me thinking that maybe the Internet was the place to create such an efficient market. Not just a site where big corporations sold stuff to consumers and bombarded them with ads, but rather one where people "traded" with each other. I thought, if you could bring enough people together and let them pay whatever they thought something was worth (in other words, have them bid in an auction format), real values could be realized and it could ultimately be a fairer system -- a win-win for buyers and sellers.

Around the same time, Pam (who was then my fiancée) mentioned that she wished she could find other Pez collectors with whom she could buy and sell dispensers so she could complete her collection. It occurred to me that the Internet might again be the perfect medium for accomplishing this. After all, the Net was becoming pervasive -- businesses and households were getting hooked up at an amazing rate. With such a critical mass, you'd be bound to have a few Pez purveyors -- and who knows what else? Best of all, the Net was interactive: I could imagine people not only communicating with each other one on one around a transaction, but also sharing information about their passion.

However, when eBay's AuctionWeb (the name was later shortened) launched on Labor Day, 1995, I never dreamed that the site would become the leading Internet destination for people buying and selling just about anything. It all seems more of a happy accident than a grand business design -- like that old commercial where the guy with the chocolate bar runs into the guy with the peanut butter and -- eureka! -- the peanut butter cup is born. Indeed, eBay.com is the perfect convergence of technology and great people. Person-to-person online trading in an auction format is a fascinating concept, but it merely provides an infrastructure for an even more fascinating sociological experiment. There have been millions of positive transactions on eBay, proving time after time that people are basically honest and trustworthy and eager to do a good job. Without the passion and goodwill of collectors and small entrepreneurs, eBay would no doubt have been just a blip at the end of the twentieth century.

I have to admit that it wasn't until almost a year after the first auction that I really understood who our users were. My business partner Jeff Skoll, an analytical powerhouse, had finally talked me into having a focus group, which included people from all walks of life. One of them was a truck driver who said, "I don't use eBay that much -- I'm on it only two or three times a day. But my son is on all the time. He has packages coming and going constantly." Then the truck driver and everyone else in the group asked to take a break so they could go check their auctions. Wow! Not only were these people dedicated, but I could see that eBay had become a part of their lives.

Of course, I'd been well aware that we were on to something for some time. I launched eBay on the space my personal Internet service provider allocated to me as a member. After a few months, I was getting so much traffic they kicked me off the personal site. In February of '96, I had to start charging people. My initial goal was just to cover my rising costs of Internet service; I wasn't even thinking profit. People seemed happy to pay for the service, except I was so busy keeping the site going, I couldn't even get to the mail and open the checks that were piling up. That's when I realized my little hobby/experiment had taken on a life of its own. A couple months later, I had to buy my own server and hire a part-time employee to open the mail. We were no longer working out of my house, but this was still very much a start-up company. The three of us worked out of one room and Jeff kept a suit at the office "just in case" he had to meet with some business bigwig. Neither of us quit our other jobs until August of that year.

By the time Meg Whitman joined the company in early '98 as our CEO, we realized that eBay was a collector phenomenon. But, of course, the collectors already knew that -- and they guided us. Their fingerprints are all over the site, from policies and categories to chat rooms to the new interface introduced in 1999. We listen to all user suggestions and, as we add and improve our services, we will continue to do so. eBay is today what our members have built and will be tomorrow what they want it to be. I always tell our members "if you don't like something on eBay, change it." Whether you're a collector or dealer or both, the worst thing you can be is apathetic or disaffected.

One of the most unexpected and gratifying aspects of eBay is the impact it's had on people's lives. eBay has given many people a way to achieve success on their own terms, whether that means becoming a self-sufficient businessperson, finding all the lost toys from one's childhood, or simply finding a bunch of like-minded souls. eBay's strength depends on our members' ability to connect with other members of this new global trading community.

That's what this book is all about. The Official eBay Guide is the only book authorized by our company. In the following pages, you'll find clear explanations of the ins and outs of the site, tips for selling and bidding smartly, do's and don'ts of eBay etiquette, and strategies for building and maintaining a stellar collection. In short, our goal is to help you the user be as successful on eBay as possible.

I may not be a collector, but I have found a few treasures on eBay, and sweated snipers in the process. In fact, I bought Pam's wedding gift -- a rare "Pez pal bride" Pez dispenser, of course -- on the site. (The staff then chipped in and bought the matching groom for her in another eBay sale.) Winning that for her was much more of a kick than I expected. And that's really the point of eBay -- to have fun. No matter how much the eBay universe expands, I hope we never lose that sense of wonder.



by Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman of eBay Inc., Copyright 1999 by eBay Inc.

Read More Show Less

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2012

    This hard copy book was published in 1999. The 2010 date is app

    This hard copy book was published in 1999. The 2010 date is apparently the date it was converted to Nook Book format. Purchasers should be aware of this. It may be a great book but its 13 year old.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2004

    best ebay book

    this book will help you get to be sucessful in the ebay world and help you get to sell bid buy and more this is a great book I would recommended this ebay book great help.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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