Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I work for free

It has to be hot to grow flowers like that. Today, it is in the mid 90's; the temperature in the car, after it has been parked, say in a doctor's office parking lot for several hundred hours, is about 120. Or, when one is driving down a really busy street to the post office , the temperature in the car, with the west facing sun, is about 118. It's hot. Hold that thought. A few years ago, I began shopping on-line for my minions' schoolbooks (sorry, my children, my dear precious children); on-line (for half a million dollars) rather than from the school bookseller (for a million dollars)That would be all except for BigB, who never can never seem to figure out what he needs until the day before the test, and then he HAS TO HAVE $165 for the textbook or he will fail the test . . what was I thinking! Then, when the end of the school year comes, typically The Sophisticate and BigB, who are theoretically then in possession of $1000+ worth of textbooks, sell them back to the bookstore for $50.

With the money they "earned" from textbook sales they go out and do something fun, to celebrate the end of the school year. Like eat ringpops.

However, sometimes they don't, or the bookstore doesn't want the books - and those books start piling up. We have 2 or 3 copies of Theater: The Lively Art, one of them with CD-ROM, which has never been opened. Don't even ask me how many miserable local and university plays I have seen, as the companion play-goer with my reluctant student - and I have seen one really good play. Also, don't ask me how many more I might see.
Before we continue, the grass really was that weird green color that day. PPP and the Young Son do a little more bartering and trading of books, since in August, I usually say "I don't have $1000 dollars for books! if you want anything else, like lunch or football cleats, go find yourself some books!" That works with them. Why, I don't know, but it does. Nonetheless, we have ended up with a bunch of books.
Plus the homeschool books - a whole different category and a whole different story, to be told another day. Leave it at : WE HAVE SOME HOMESCHOOL BOOKS - INCLUDING SAXON MATH!!!!!!

About three years ago, I realized I could be an Amazon seller. (I'm not linking to Amazon, figure it out). It's easy! Just ask them!!! So...three weeks ago, I decided to become an indentured servant to Amazon - no, I meant to say that I listed some books to sell at Amazon. NOT because I thought I would make a lot of money, because I didn't and won't. I'm looking for the $150 book for $20, so isn't everyone else? So, I did this to get them out of my house, in preparation for painting inside (don't tell BigD - he doesn't know what I have planned for the holiday weekend) - and because it seems like the noble thing to do. I will support the education of students and families struggling with the overwhelming cost of education, and I will somehow "save a tree" - because that is one less new book that will have to be printed. Somehow that has to work. Composting works on the yard waste; recycling works with the cans; and this bookselling thing should fulfill the same role with the books - noble sacrifice.

So, I listed the books. It took me 3 different attempts to get started. There is a good chance I did NOT read the agreeements in their entirety. I just kept on clicking 'sell yours here!" It's possible I was also watching the Top Chef Finale for the 19th time! I am a sucker for those exclamation marks !(or as Mrs. Brashear! my beloved 5th grade teacher! called them: exclamation POINTS)!
It took a total of about 13 hours to get them listed - not that I have so so many books, it's just TEDIOUS, what with figuring out the condition, and finding the right ISBN, and finding the right edition, and all the other minutiae they want. And every single 'how-to' says not to sell popular fiction of the thriller/mystery/romance kind, which I happen to have another million, OK, bleh.
I set up a different email account (don't ask - something about my full name published on Amazon that doesn't seem right.) That was all done and complete last week. And then I forgot the password. So I had to reset it. And I forgot it again, and reset it again. And again. Today, I realized that I hadn't seen that email 'Zambooks' (witty, no?) for a few days - and so, I reset the email password yet again - and I have sold 3 books. Bam! fireworks! nobility rules! Break forth the confetti and streamers! I was totally THRILLED . . .until I realized that I now have AGREED to ship those books. And a BIG reminder from Amazon "YOU HAVE AGREED to ship these books within 2 business days ...." I am going to make it, pretty close to that. Pretty damn close, considering I forgot the password so many times. Anyway, that AGREEMENT is on every single page I looked at, and it made me have the eerie feeling that Amazon was watching me closely from above to make sure I abide by the many, many terms I agreed to, simply by clicking the button.
I had to go to some kind of store and buy something to send them in. I had to come home and print off the shipping invoice and mailing address and blah, blah, blah - so, per book, 3 pages of printed stuff. And then I couldn't find the mailing tape, so I just piled on the regular scotch tape (yes, I considered duct tape, or duck tape, your choice ) Then I had to make sure that I was mailing the right book to the right person. Since Biology Study guide should not go to the person who wants College Algebra, hardback edition.

Amazon has all these instructions about checking and verifying numbers. I had a better system. In my notebook, I have written the title and author and a little hint about what the book looks like:

  • Modern Biology "green with ugly owl"
  • A Bordo - "hideous purple cover."
  • Global Insights- "red and raggedy"
Unfortunately, Amazon did not bother to include my description in all their paperwork. They sent a SKU number. I am not a part of the SKU universe.
So, that whole ordeal of figuring out what was sold, finding the book, getting the packing stuff, packing them up, etc - that took about an hour and a half. Seriously. It's confusing. And counting the driving to buy the envelopes and looking for the tape. And unjamming the printer. And it's hot.
Next, drive to the post office. In the heat, which I detailed above. NO, I did not drive to the Post Office with the packages on top of the car, though I did get down to the corner once with my purse on top of the car. I am using USPS here - I don't care if they do call it snail mail. Strap the book on a snail, for the $3.99 Amazon has collected for shipping. So, when the lady offered me a rate of $25.13 to have it there tomorrow - uh, no, the Amazon warning wasn't that dire. We settled on 'media mail' which is evidently the cheapest. All three books - about 12 cents to spare on the shipping. Then I came home and looked more carefully at all that paperwork, now that the books were shipped and I wasn't getting ready to get kicked out of the exclusive Amazon booksellers club. One book, a college algebra book, sold for $4.50. Amazon's 'comission' was $3.04. The envelope + shipping was $4.54. Amazon collected $3.99 for shipping. So far, I am a little bit in the hole. In total, my net for the day is $2.56. Which maybe paid for the gas.

Three books were sold, I did all the work, actually found the books inside my house, I drove in the heat and sun, and Amazon made a bunch more than $2.56 on MY books.
Therefore, I rest my case. I am an indentured servant. To Amazon. DOT. COM.

In the spirit of more nobility, I am listing all the books I have listed on Amazon here. If you want one, you can email me at
I wrote the password down, so we're good on that. Or if you know me, call me. Or if you live here, just come and get it.
Right this minute, the prices for the texts are not there, because I have to go back and see what the prices actually ARE, on Amazon. We can have a civil discussion about how you can pay for them and I will send them to you, with no threats about being in trouble. And then Amazon won't get all the money, you'll get a good book for little $$, and I will get them out of here - even though I will still have to drive in the hot sun. That's OK, it's all for the cause...of whatever noble cause I thought it was.

My 'agreement' says I cannot list them elsewhere at a lower price. It took me a solid 30 minutes to find that clause. For all of you who may be very successful Amazon sellers, go for it. Sit around and say things like "What kind of idiot is this woman?" Go ahead, I can't hear you. Frankly, I am kind of asking the same question. But it's a more noble quest than money - it's about saving education and trees. I think. But I didn't really want to pay Amazon to do that.

I am setting myself free from servitude to Amazon. Which I could also accomplish by un-listing all those books. Which would take a lot of time clicking. No - this is better

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