Selling Ebooks For A Living

by admin | 21st November 2009

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Selling Ebooks For A Living

For Francois Visser, selling eBooks on one South African online marketplace was the only option open to him when he found himself retrenched and with only R500 of available capital in 2004. However, 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. This is his story.

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

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 examined many auction sites where people sold their unwanted goods or new products. The fact that some of the sellers seemed to be doing this full time, making good money, caught my attention.

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 fro
m $1-$3 (R10-R30) each and listed them on online marketplace.

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 online marketplace, so did the competition. As a result, the sales took a nosedive. At this point, my only advantage over my competitors was my good customer service and my impeccable 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.

By: Bobby Buys

Article Directory: is South Africa’s largest online marketplace. Buyers and sellers come to bidorbuy to buy and sell virtually anything in auction format or at fixed prices. Contact details: bidorbuy Marketing Department; email, web site

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