Selling books online

Online bookselling

A few years ago I used to supplement my income by selling books on Amazon.  Although I no longer do this I thought I would offer a few tips in case anyone else is interested.  Some  are also probably relevant to general online trading.  I am now a poacher turned game keeper and help at a local charity shop and sometimes spot items they can sell on ebay.

Most people start by selling their old books, often college textbooks but then need to look for replacement stock. The first thing I realised was that online selling is more about the ability to source quality stock cheaply than  brilliant salesmanship.  When you first look at Amazon you will find a lot of books for sale for 1p and you wonder how sellers manage this. The answer is that these are mega sellers who probably buy charity shop rejects for about 5p each and make most of their profit from the postage charge. Professional sellers also pay considerably less Amazon fees than you or I.

The key to success is to find your niche. If you are interested in fishing or local history that is the place to start. Have a look at sites like Amazon or Ebay to find what is selling and for how much. If you try looking up the price of your own books it will give you some idea.  All modern books have an ISBN number above the barcode if you search for this number you will be able to compare your edition with what is on offer. Try to do a practice listing to see exactly what you will receive and then decide if it is worth it. Also look at the best seller ranking to see if it is likely to sell. Personally I would avoid hardback fiction or thick mass market paperbacks.  Old encyclopedias , readers digests or family bibles are also unlikely to sell.

The next task is to try to source the books in good condition cheaply. If you have time go into your local charity shops and talk to the staff, ask them to look out for books on your interest and if they find any pay a fair price and thank them. Large book shops also have end of season sales especially if a new edition of a text book has just been published. Unless you intend to trade on a large scale and have a lot of storage space I would avoid buying in bulk. It takes a surprisingly long time to list and pack books. Only buy books for resale in very good condition.

You then need to cut costs for posting and packing. I was able to buy padded envelopes in bulk from our local stationers. Look on ebay for discounted stamps. It is a good idea to invest in some cheap postal scales. It is important to work out a selling price that gives you a reasonable profit. Some dealers have software that automatically makes their books a 1p cheaper than the next lowest but ignore this. If your books have been well chosen they will sell. Give the books a good description, mention any faults like highlighting in textbooks and try to package them well and post promptly. If you have good feedback you will get orders.

The Amazon sellers forum is very helpful. If you have several books on the same subject or by the same author it might be worth selling them as a bulk lot on ebay.  More specialist books sometimes sell better on Abe books which is also owned by Amazon.  Ebay also allows you to let the buyer collect if they are particularly heavy. Ladybird books have devoted collectors and prices can be checked on the wee web or they can be saved and sold as a collectors lot.  Another series to look out for is Haynes car manuals.  I once sold a manual for a reliant robin.

If you have books that are worth a few pounds but you just want them out of the house a site like Music Magpie is worth considering. Minimum sale is £5.00 but they pay postage and provide the packing labels.

 

Helping with academic research

Helping with academic research

 

 

Since retirement I have been looking for interesting and enjoyable  ways to supplement my income.

I think one of the most interesting sites I have found is  Prolific academic, a site which links academics from around the world with participants willing to help complete online research studies.  Many studies are on psychological topics but a variety of other subjects are covered.  Surveys can take from a few minutes to an hour or sometimes more.  You are told in advance how long a survey will take and what the fee will be.  Payment can be made via circle or paypal or donated to charity.  Unlike most survey sites you receive a fair rate of pay and you rarely get disqualified from a study  half way through.  You don’t need a degree to join and participants from most countries are accepted on to their panel.

click here to find out more  Prolific academic     I get a small bonus for referring either a researcher who wants to run a study or a participant.

Many universities also recruit volunteers directly for studies.  I have recently been participating in a study on dopamine and memory run by the University of Bristol.  This was a very interesting experience  which involved two overnight visits to the Bristol sleep clinic and an E.C.G., E.E.G. and an MRI scan.  Luckily I was recruited as a healthy control.  I enjoyed doing the memory tests and meeting the students.  I also received very generous expenses and dinner and breakfast on the two nights I spent at the clinic.

Helping students is something I miss since giving up work and I feel it is a worthwhile use of my time.  If you would like to give it a try, it is worth checking to see if your local university is looking for volunteers for studies.  .

My next invitation is to a study on high protein biscuits.

Mystery shopping

Mystery shopping

I first started mystery shopping last  summer. I retired in April at the age of 65 and decided that I would try to replace some of my lost income by working from home. Thanks to web sites like the money shed I have been dipping my toe in to the world of secret shopping.

My first surprise was that a lot of shopping could be done at home. So far jobs have included ordering groceries on line, phoning up to enquire about insurance, receiving letters and even a tweet to enquire about disabled access at a railway station. In fact so far mystery shopping  has involved very little actual shopping. I am suprised at the variety of jobs offered and it is interesting to compare my findings about a brand with newspaper reports.My favourite jobs have involved visiting local stately homes.

What you need

Mystery shopping actually needs very little equipment. I bought myself a new mobile phone (a Samsung galaxy) and a new computer (which I needed anyway). The phone acts as my camera, voice recorder and stop watch and the computer is needed for writing the some times lengthy reports. I am lucky enough to have a bus pass so get free local travel. I also already had a printer needed for printing out a paper copy of the questionnaire.  You also need internet access.  Reports generally have to be written within 24 hours of a job.

You need to have a reasonable memory and a good standard of written and spoken English.  You need to be able to remember what was said and what the team members looked like.  I take a notebook with me so I can jot down details particularly if I have to ask for something like options for a train fare.

Payment is usually about minimum wage for the jobs themselves but this does not include travel time nor time downloading instructions or typing up the reports. Some jobs include the cost of purchases. A job last year included £5.00 to spend in any department of a local department store and £3.00 for a drink in the cafe.

Payment method varies between the companies you work for. A company like Red wigwam treats you as a casual employee and deducts tax. Other companies pay you a set fee and leave you to sort out your own tax.  Payment is usually by BACS.

I am slowly getting to grips with terms like gondola end and shelf barker. Another useful distinction to understand is the difference between a shop audit where you have to check if a product or poster is present in a store and if goods are correctly priced and displayed and a mystery shop where you are expected to buy something and report on the service received.
A recent job wanted an audio recording detailing my experience which I could do on my phone.

Many mystery shopping companies seem to use Sassie software and once you are signed up to the Sassie system you are given log in details for Presto maps which shows you jobs in any part of England.  You have to apply to the individual job agency for a particular job but you should see what is available locally.

Beware of scams you should never have to pay to join an agency and I have never been offered £100.00 to spend on a product of my choice.  Most agencies are happy to deal with enquiries.

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A grand day out. Gromit unleashed 2

A Grand day out in Bristol

This Gromit was designed by the Paw Patrol team and is at Chew Valley lake.

 

Wallace raising money outside Bristol children’s hospital.  Payment can be made here using a contactless card.

There is a brand new Wallace and Gromit sculpture  trail, Gromit unleashed 2 running in Bristol from 2 July to 2nd September with over sixty sculptures dotted around the city and surrounding areas  to raise money for the Wallace and Gromit Grand appeal for Bristol Children’s hospital and the St. Michael’s hospital special care baby unit.  Bristol children’s hospital treats more than 100,000 patients every year and cares for patients from Bristol and the South West of England.

Many of the figures have been painted by well known artists and represent famous Bristol characters like W.G. Grace, the cricketer in my photo.  The Lego design team have created a model using over 30,000 bricks and the Paw patrol team have also painted a Gromit.  Aardman animation which produced Morph, Creature Comforts, Shaun the sheep and Chicken run as well as the Wallace and Gromit films is based in Bristol and Nick Park , a founder of Aardman studios is a patron of this appeal.

For 2018 Wallace and Gromit are joined by their arch enemy Feathers McGraw and are positioned in iconic locations around Bristol and surrounding areas. The detect-o-gromit app is available to purchase from app stores for both iPhone and android for £1.99.   It has both short and longer trail routes and includes a pedometer which rewards you for 10,000 steps and has more details about the work done by the children’s hospital. A trail map is also available from the Bristol tourist office and Bristol museums. More information can  be found on the Gromit Unleashed facebook page.

The first Gromit unleashed trail and the Shaun the sheep trail raised £6 million for Bristol children’s hospital and this time they are hoping to do even better. Sculptures are  auctioned off at the end of the season and many end up at well known locations.

If you live near Bristol I think it would make a very interesting day out for your family.  It will also help you all to get fitter while having fun and discovering new parts of the city.

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First bus have a day family ticket for £8.00 if purchased through their app which allows a family of five to travel throughout the Bristol Inner zone and includes a 10p donation to the charity.

A walk in the past Roman Londinium

The Emperor Trajan

A walk in the past Roman Londinium

I belong to a meetup  group called “A walk in the past “.  This combines two of my loves history which I studied at University and walking.   Normally we meet in Bristol or surrounding areas but last week I  ventured further afield to London.  I was able to combine this with a visit to see my son who was happy to join me on the walk.

We met at a suitably classical location Trajan’s statue by Tower Hill railway station.  This is close to a surviving section of Roman  town wall. Roman walls can often be spotted as they have a tile level every couple of feet.  We were able to follow the wall for some distance and I was surprised by how much survives. We even found one section in a car park (photo).

Roman London is buried under modern London and much of it remained undiscovered for centuries.  However during the second world war the blitz destroyed many buildings revealing Roman  remains.  One such building is the London Mithraem, the remains of a temple to Mithras. It has been  lovingly preserved and  is now in the basement of the Bloomberg building, the European headquarters of the American bank.  It is beautifully present with a sound and light show.  It can be visited for free by prior arrangement. https://www.londonmithraeum.com/  They also have an interesting display of Roman artefacts found at the site including part of a collection of over 400 wax writing tablets. Another important building in any Roman town was the amphitheatre.  The London amphitheatre remained hidden until 1988 when developers rebuilding the Guildhall discovered unusual curved walls.  The remains can now be seen for free in the basement of the Guildhall.

Originally Colchester was the capital of Roman Britain but Londinium soon became more important.  Boudica led the Iceni on a raid which resulted in many wooden building being destroyed and it was decided to build a fort and walls to strengthen the town. Londinium  became more important under the emperor Hadrian who used his own money to build civic buildings.    The Romans were able to build a bridge across the Thames near the site of the modern Tower Bridge and it became an important trading port.  Lead from the Mendips and copper and tin from Cornwall were traded for olive oil , wine and other luxury goods. I was  shown the site of the London arena, where soldiers would have trained which was discovered about forty years ago and the enormous forum basilica. which is now under Leadenhall market. We ended our walk by looking at Roman artefacts in the excellent museum of London.  This is also free and is well worth a visit.  I particularly liked the model of the original London bridge.

If you want to find out more about a walk in the past:  www.meetup.com/A-Walk-in-the-Past/

 

A visit to Nantes

When I retired I joined a U3A French group.  For those people who have not come across it before the University of the third age is a voluntary organisation that provides classes and social groups for retired people.    Our group is unusual that we run without a tutor.  We meet in members houses and play games like scrabble and taboo in French.   We also meet up with other French groups for activities such as talks and petanque.

One member of our group noticed a request in the U3A magazine from a similar French group in Nantes in north west France who wanted to do an exchange and as Easy Jet has just opened a route between Nantes and Bristol we thought it was a good opportunity to practice our French and see a new city.  The French equivalent of the U3A is the University Permanente.  It is different from the English version as it is attached to the main university and classes meet in the University.

Four of us arranged to go and we were met at the airport by our hosts from the French anglophone group at Nantes airport with a sign reading UP Nantes which reminded us of UP Pompei.  For the next four days we were shown round Nantes by our very generous hosts.

We were struck by the similarities with Bristol, both cities have about half a million inhabitants and are former ports who have lost trade because the rivers, the Loire in France and the Avon in England have become too shallow for modern boats.  Both cities also owe much of their prosperity to the slave trade. We visited a very moving memorial to the slave trade in Nantes and discussed its relevance to Bristol which seems to want to forget its past.

Nantes was also the birth place of Jules Verne, the French science fiction writer.  The old boat building sheds in Nantes have been turned into a

steam punk museum where fantastical machines are created.  The highlight is an enormous mechanical elephant  as big as a double decker bus which gives people rides around the dock yard.  There is also a huge carousel based on Verne’s story twenty thousand leagues under the sea where you can ride on underwater sea creatures.

We enjoyed meeting the French group and practising our rather rusty French.  We also savoured French cuisine both in our hosts’ home and a variety of restaurants  and visited some very interesting bars including the nest (Le Nid)  at the top of a high office block where the chairs and tables resemble eggs.