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How eBay Really Works


With scores of eBay books already published, does the world really need another beginner's guide? Who are we to think we could provide something so new and different that it would be worthy of the trees needed to produce it? As we weighed the opportunity to write this book we looked over many of the books “out there.” We thought about it for a good long time. We talked about it endlessly. Then we came to a fascinating realization.

If our goal was to produce another step-by-step guide to using eBay, we'd rather leave the trees where they were. There are several fine primers that do a perfectly adequate job of teaching newcomers how to navigate eBay. Plus, eBay itself has worked hard over the years to make its site ever more manageable and easy to use. So if we were going to write a new eBay guide for beginners, we'd have to find a compelling reason to do so. We wouldn’t be satisfied just telling people which links to click and which screens to read. And that’s when our kids turned on the lights.

Within the last several years, we taught Stephanie and Ethan how to drive. Now, today's cars make driving fairly simple. Transmissions are automatic. Lights can be set to turn on when they should. Power steering and power brakes are the norm. Global Positioning Systems can even tell you which road to take and which turn to make, so you never have to get lost again. Yes, driving is easy. But, driving well is a challenge. As we prepared to let our kids go, we realized that teaching them to drive and teaching them to drive well were two very different things.

So, we thought about creating a book that wouldn't just teach our readers how to navigate and enjoy eBay, but that would actually teach them how to do those things skillfully. We decided that if we could write a book that featured insider tips and strategies from those who have stood in our readers' shoes, we'd have something. And if we could provide information that was truly helpful, regardless of whether it towed the eBay line, then we’d really have something different and valuable to share. The book you hold in your hands is the result of that decision.

As you work through this book, you'll learn, for example, that the extra features eBay encourages you to purchase to make your listings stand out, from bold text to highlighting to special placement, are not all equal. Some may help, but most will do nothing more than cost you money. We'll help you to see which ones are which. We'll help you decide when you shouldn't allow certain buyers to bid on the items you're trying to sell. We'll even tell you when eBay isn't your best shopping destination. Certain purchases really are better made in other places.

What we can offer you is the voice of experience. Your intellect, with our experience, will make learning how eBay really works simple and enjoyable. As you read through this book, you'll find that we have a great deal of respect for you, our reader. We began with the premise that you’re smart. We don't for a minute think of you as a “dummy.” You may not be educated or experienced in the ways of eBay, but you are curious about how to use the site, and therefore, we’re confident you can become a savvy eBay buyer and seller. This smart person's guide to using eBay is for you.

The chapters ahead outline some basics, such as how to register as a buyer and seller. More than that, however, you'll find advice about which choices to make and how you can confidently and wisely buy and sell on eBay, with the experience of old pros guiding you as you go. We've been part of this community for most of the past decade. Plus, we've talked with hundreds of people who not only love eBay for shopping, but who also earn their livings there by selling.

That's why this book has two sections. You'll start by learning techniques for smart buying, and then you'll move on to discover how best to sell. (While almost everyone starts out by buying stuff on eBay, we think most people who like shopping will want to try selling too.) Because we respect your abilities, we've included a Quick Start Guide for each section of the book. These brief outlines will tell you what you need to do if you just want to jump in and start buying or selling without too much fanfare. We understand your enthusiasm, and we'll be waiting right here for you if you get there and decide you need some help.

For those of you who want to start more slowly, join us as we take you through every aspect of using eBay. You'll find explanations, insider advice, and anecdotes throughout the book that cover what you need to know and show you how to avoid some common beginner's mistakes. Each chapter ends with a story about My Best eBay Buy or My Best eBay Sale, because everyone who has used eBay for any length of time has some wonderful stories to share, and who doesn't love a good story? We leave you with two appendices that give you a glimpse into selling vehicles on eBay and also provide you with a list of some of our favorite resources. Finally, the glossary provides a handy quick reference guide to eBay terms you’ll need to know.

So, settle back and get yourself ready for a wild ride. eBay is fun, exciting, challenging, and ever changing. We're delighted you've decided to join us as we explore this corner of the galaxy. We suspect that, once you learn your way around, you're going to love it here!