and Selling at Half.com
There comes s time in a man's life when he
realizes he will not ever read all the books on his
bookshelf. I look at my shelf with longing, seeing
titles that hold the promise of endless
fascination: The Seventy Great Mysteries of the
Ancient World, Hierarchy in the Forest, The History
of Money . . .
Each year I add more, some optimistic impulse
saying inside, "How can you not buy this book? It's
precisely what you want to know. Maybe you'll find
the time to read it."
But I never do, unless it's during my annual
vacation, which I usually spend reading.
When I was a boy and boredom weighed heavily,
when I could barely endure excruciating hours with
nothing to fill them, I didn't imagine adulthood
would be like this. Time is still the enemy, but
now instead of boredom it is the endless
fascination of so many fascinating things. It is
the tasks of adult life that fill all the little
slots that come marching along. It is the work we
do to sustain ourselves.
So what do you do? When these books began to
weigh as heavily as boredom once did, I
courageously spent a half hour culling them,
putting them into a box, and sending an e-mail
offering to donate them to a library.
A library--the irony of it all. So many unread
books on the shelves. The librarian didn't reply.
Perhaps he too feels the weight and doesn't want to
So what do you do? Ta daa! You sell them on
Half.com. I knew
we'd get to the Internet sooner or later in this
wistful soliloquy. The books sat there in the box
for two months, and then I thought of selling
Why not turn melancholy into money? With
excitement I spent a few minutes listing them.
Half.com is one of those universes you come
across on occasion on the Internet--a huge
marketplace with a culture all its own, with
thousands and thousands of buyers and sellers. The
site began with the notion that people had unused
books, videos, and CDs and that there needed to be
a place to exchange them. As the name implies, the
original concept was that every item would be at
least half off the original price.
Half.com is now part of eBay (yet another one of
the Internet universes), and prices are not
necessarily half but are whatever the market will
bear. First you need to set up a free account,
which just takes minutes. And they like to have
your bank account information so they can deposit
the money directly.
Once you have that set up, listing your items
for sale couldn't be easier. For books, you simply
type in the ISBN number. The site then gives full
bibliographical information and offers suggestions
regarding the selling price. It gives an average
sale price for that particular item, the current
highest and lowest prices, the most recent sale
price, and a recommended price.
Selling videos, CDs, and computer games is
similar, except that you type in the Universal
Product Code. You can list hundreds of items if you
like, and the site makes it very easy to manage
When someone buys your item, Half.com sends you
an e-mail. You then simply package your item and
send it off.
Half.com likes to pay via direct deposit but
will also cut you a check. They subtract a 15
percent commission, though they do pay a fixed
shipping reimbursement. A lot of other items are
exchanged on Half.com, such as computers and
software, but the service began with books, videos,
and CDs, and the process of selling seems simplest
with these items.
Buying from Half.com is similar to buying from
other sites, expect that the prices are often
lower. If you were to buy the hardcover edition of
Robert Wright's The Moral Animal on Amazon, you'd
be paying $27 plus shipping. On Half.com, you can
get the hardcover edition in like-new condition for
They also have DVDs, with a large selection of
items for $7.99 or less. They also have a selection
of VHS videos for $3.99 or less. Shipping is
typically $$2-3 and for books, CDs, DVDs, and
So did my books sell? No. Still have them on my
shelf. But I did find some great buys on books that
I'd been wanting . . . .
© 2001 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.