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eBay is a true phenomenon.

In 2004, eBay transactions defined a new economy worth more than $34 billion. Read that number again; it's not a misprint. Thirty-four billion dollars. That's $34 billion in sales that didn't exist before eBay. Thirty-four billion dollars of transactions that appeared seemingly out of thin air. Thirty-four billion dollars in merchandise that wouldn't have been sold otherwise.

Where did that $34 billion come from? It came from you and from me and from 135 million other people around the world who log on to the eBay site to buy and to sell all manner of merchandise. Before eBay, there was no global marketplace for the 135 million of us; there was no way to buy and to sell that $34 billion of merchandise, except for small local garage sales and flea markets.

eBay made that $34 billion happen. eBay brought 135 million of us together.

In doing so, eBay became one of the first—and maybe the only—of the online businesses to make a profit from day one of its existence. eBay kept its costs low by not actually handling any of the merchandise traded on its site, and generated revenue by charging listing fees and sales commissions on every transaction.

Smart people, with a smart concept.

And here's somebody else who's smart about eBay:


You're smart because you bought this book to help you learn how to buy and sell merchandise on the eBay site. You know that you need to learn how eBay works before you can start buying and selling, and you also know that a little extra knowledge can give you the edge you need to be a real auction winner.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to eBay, 3rd Edition, will help you get started with eBay auctions—even if you've never bought anything online in your life. Read this book and you'll learn how to bid and how to sell, and what to do when the auction ends.

More important, you'll learn how to maximize your chances of winning important eBay auctions—without paying through the nose. And if you're a seller, you'll learn how to stand out from the crowd and generate more bids—and higher selling prices.

You'll also learn that buying and selling on eBay isn't that hard, and that it can be a lot of fun. You'll even discover that you can actually make a living from your eBay activities, if you don't mind a little hard work.


How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into five main parts:

  • Part I, “Essential eBay,” shows you how online auctions work, as well as how to sign up for eBay membership and find your way around the eBay site.

  • Part II, “eBay for Bidders,” tells you everything you need to know about bidding for items in eBay auctions. You'll take the Bidding 101 tutorial, learn how to search for specific types of items, discover the best ways to pay for those auctions you win, and find out how to avoid getting ripped off by unscrupulous sellers.

  • Part III, “eBay for Sellers,” is the flip side of the coin. This section tells you everything you need to know about selling on eBay; you'll take the Selling 101 tutorial, figure out what to sell and for how much, determine what payment methods to accept, learn how to create more effective item listings, find out how to pack and ship your merchandise, and discover how to best manage your current auctions.

  • Part IV, “Using eBay's Advanced Features,” is all about the little extras you can find on the eBay site. You'll discover how to track your auctions in My eBay, learn how to create a personal About Me page, and find out how to use post-auction feedback.

  • Part V, “Becoming a Power Seller,” is for the really ambitious eBay user. You'll learn how to manage your auctions with third-party software and services, how to sell and ship internationally, and how to turn your hobby into a full-time profession—and make a real living from your eBay auctions.

Taken together, the 30 chapters in this book will help you get the most from your eBay experience. By the time you get to the end of the final chapter, you'll be buying and selling online just like a pro!

Conventions Used in This Book

I hope that this book is easy enough to figure out on its own, without requiring its own instruction manual. As you read through the pages, however, it helps to know precisely how I've presented specific types of information.

Web Page Addresses

There are a lot of Web page addresses in this book—including addresses for specific pages on the eBay site. They're noted as such:


Technically, a Web page address is supposed to start with http:// (as in http://www.molehillgroup.com). Because Internet Explorer and other Web browsers automatically insert this piece of the address, however, you don't have to type it—and I haven't included it in any of the addresses in this book.

Special Elements

This book also includes a few special elements that provide additional information not included in the basic text. These elements are designed to supplement the text to make your learning faster, easier, and more efficient.


A note is designed to provide information that is generally useful but not specifically necessary for what you're doing at the moment. Some notes are like extended tips—interesting, but not essential.


A caution will tell you to beware of a potentially dangerous act or situation. In some cases, ignoring a caution could cause you significant problems—so pay attention to them!


A tip is a piece of advice—a little trick, actually—that helps you use your computer more effectively or maneuver around problems or limitations.

“Mike Sez”

This element is my personal opinion or recommendation regarding the topic at hand. Remember—I might not always be right, but I'll always have an opinion!

Finally, in various parts of this book you'll find big checklists. Use these checklists to prepare for the upcoming task—just check off the items on the list, and you'll be ready to go.

Further Reading

I'd be somewhat remiss if I didn't point you to further reading on the subject of eBay—in particular, books you can read after this one to help you be even more successful with your eBay auctions. To this end, I draw your attention to two other books I've written that you might find useful:

  • Tricks of the eBay Masters (Que, 2004), which assembles 600 tricks and tips from almost 200 successful eBay buyers and sellers—great advice that any eBayer can use.

  • Making a Living from Your eBay Business (Que, 2005), which shows you how to turn your eBay hobby into a profitable business. (This one's more of a business book than an eBay book—just what you need to turn pro!)

Let Me Know What You Think

I always love to hear from readers. If you want to contact me, feel free to email me at abg-ebay@molehillgroup.com. I can't promise that I'll answer every message, but I will promise that I'll read each one!

If you want to learn more about me and any new books I have cooking, check out my Molehill Group website at www.molehillgroup.com. Who knows—you might find some other books there that you'd like to read.

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