The experience of an eBooks seller

Seller:  superfv
Name: Francois Visser

After being retrenched in 2004 and with only R500 of available capital, Francois Visser found his niche: selling eBooks on bidorbuy. The initial phenomenal sales decreased in proportion with the appearance of competitors, and today Francois relies on good customer service and excellent ratings for his extra income from eBooks.

In 1440, a German man by the name of Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type, which allowed books to be copied quickly and cheaply. Gutenberg’s invention changed the world forever.

With the dawn of the computer age, a new form of book production was created: the electronic book which is better known as an eBook. Books were no longer restricted to being physical objects, but could be stored and read in virtual environment, copied instantly and transferred across the globe.

“[It] began in 1971 when Michael Hart was given an operator’s account to the value of $100,000,000 in computer time by the operators of the Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the Materials Research Labs at the University of Illinois”, history says1. In an effort to devise what to do with his newly acquired “wealth,” Hart concluded that the true value of computers would not be in actual computing, but in storage, retrieval and searching of libraries. He created the first “Etext” (that is what Hart originally called the eBook as we now know it), The Declaration of Independence, soon after. Thus, both the Project Gutenberg and the eBook were born. Project Gutenberg still exists as one of the top libraries of free eBooks and one of the most visited sites for eBooks.

After being retrenched in 2004, I started to search the internet for money-making opportunities. I came across various auction sites where people were selling their unwanted goods or various new products. I noticed that some of the sellers seemed to have made lots of income and to be doing this on a full time basis.

My problem was that I only had R500 to start selling on an auction site, and therefore most items were out of my reach. Then I came across the eBook section of an auction site and found a cheap item which could be sold over and over. I bought about 20 eBooks with prices ranging from $1-$3 (R10-R30) each and listed them on bidorbuy.

I sold my eBooks at R6 each and had over 300 sales in my first month. This figure tripled within six months as consumers now had a cheaper alternative than buying hardcopy books with price tags above R100 on average. The great thing about eBooks is that you can have thousands of eBooks on a single disc and you don’t have to search through hundreds of books in your bookcases to find the volume you are looking for.

As eBooks’ popularity increased on bidorbuy, so did the competition. With the results that sales dwindled. My only advantage over the competition at that point was my good customer service and my great ratings.

I did not let the hurdles get me down and today I am still making a small extra income in return for spending about an hour in front of my PC every day, keeping my customers up to date with their orders and looking for new material.

In conclusion, I have to say that auction sites are great places to start a small business. The capital layout is small, the growth potential is substantial. And remember – hard work does pay.

1 Hart, Michael S. “History and Philosophy of Project Gutenberg” Project Gutenberg Aug. 1992: Online Internet 2 May 2005.