Buying Audiobooks on eBay

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I have bought and sold audio books on eBay for the past 2 years. Here are my tips to help when buying audiobooks on eBay.

Finding an audiobook
One of the most difficult aspects is finding the audiobook your after. People often list audiobooks in the wrong category or do not give enough information in the title field.

  • Search for the book title.
  • Search for the author (i.e. King, Blyton, Christie, Cornwell, Clancy, Wodehouse, Bryson, Patterson, Rankin).
  • Search for the character or series  (i.e. doctor who, dr who,  lord of the rings , star wars,  discworld, sharpe, paul temple).
  • Search for the reader (i.e. Thorne, Carmichael, Cecil, Barrett).
  • Click the 'search title and description' checkbox. This allows you to search the description as well as the title. Some people only list the author or reader in the description.
  • Use the '-' (minus) character to exclude words from the search. (i.e. Searching for Stephen Fry audio books can be difficult as the results will be mainly Harry Potter books, try entering 'stephen fry -harry' and the results should contain Stephen Fry audiobooks with no harry potter books visible.
  • Narrow your search down by length (i.e. select abridged or unabridged from the drop-down list). I generally only want unabridged books however, people still list with the wrong length, i.e. unabridged listed as abridged or listed with no length. The problem with listing with no length is that the audiobook will not appear when the search is narrowed down to abridged or unabridged, only when the length is any.
  • Also check the following categories:
    • Music > Cassettes > Spoken Word
    • Music > CDs > Spoken Word
  • Check the sellers other items. If you find an item that interests you look at other items for sale from the same seller. If they're selling one audiobook you like it's probable they're selling more.

Remember to check the postage being charged. Audiobooks can be heavy (especially 10+ cassettes), but some people do charge a lot for postage. Some of this does cover the packaging and persons time but be aware of the postage when you bid.

Why not customise your list view display (using the 'customise display' link to display the "Postage cost"). At least you will then be aware of postage when making a bid on a £0.99p audiobook.

Should you buy ex-library audiobooks off eBay. I think this one is up to personal opinion. I quite happily buy ex-library audiobooks and have picked up some bargains this way.

It's often a good way to get hold of older, out-of-print audiobooks.

However, for cassettes, the quality of the audio may vary from poor to perfect. After all a library book will have been listened to by a lot more people than an audiobook from a private collection which may only have been listened to one or two times. I don't have a problem with this as its a gamble that you take. The worst that has happened to me is the occasional tape that has been chewed or is very hissy in parts. The boxes are quite often in bad condition, they can be broken or cracked and will usually have library stickers (or marks where they have been removed).

Sellers are usually honest about the contition of items and describe any problems with the tapes or boxes. If there is a picture you can see the condition for yourself. Sellers don't want negative feedback and will try to describe the item as accurately as possible. If there's a problem get in touch with them and try to resolve it before leaving negative feedback. Some sellers don't have time to listen to the audiobooks before they sell them so they will be unaware of any problems.

American audiobooks
Sometimes the books are American, rather than English. Not usually much difference apart from the reader and the publisher. If you don't want to be disapointed, check the details first. The only problem I could see is if you bought a Harry Potter audiobook and it was read by Jim Dale rather than Stephen Fry.

mp3 format
Some audiobooks have been released in mp3 format. The BBC have done this and there are some Terry Pratchett ISIS audiobooks in this format.

Some recordings are out of copyright (older than 50 years) and are generally advertised as old time radio (OTR) and can be resold by anyone.

However, there are some collections of recently released audiobooks that are being sold on eBay that have been converted to mp3 by the seller and are not originals. i.e. complete harry potter on mp3, bernard cornwell collection on mp3, etc. These are illegal and I would advise you not to buy them and to report the user/listing to eBay. I also think that mp3 files advertised as "for back up purposes only" are also illegal and would advise anyone against buying this type of item. If you want to play it on your ipod, buy it on CD and convert it to mp3 yourself, it's not difficult.

Does the item have a picture? If not I would avoid the item. If yes, check you can see MP3-CD on the actual box or DVD. If in doubt ask the seller a question.

Thankfully, this type of listing does appear to have disapeared from eBay in the past few months so hopefully it's not a problem anymore.

Usual eBay Checks Apply
All the other eBay checks you usual make also apply here. They will be explained in detail in other users guides. Things to check are:

  • Is the users feedback mostly positive?
  • Is there a photograph of the item?
  • Is the photograph genuine or just a stock photo?

When your item arrives check it is OK. A visual inspection of the box and listen to at least one or two cassettes/CDs. If you are happy leave positive feedback for the seller. You may wish to consider some of the questions below. Use the answers to generate your feedback comment. For example if the item arrived fast, was well packed and you are happy, tell the seller (and future buyers) in your feedback. this is more use than saying "great ebayer".

  • Was the item as described?
  • Are you happy with your purchase?
  • How many working days did it take to arrive since payment?
  • Was it well packed?
  • Would you buy an item from this user again?

I hope you find these tips useful. Remember everything above is my own personal opinion and has helped me buy audiobooks on eBay in the past. If you disagree with anything in this guide or have any ideas how it could be improved, contact me via My Messages with your feedback - kickflip720.

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