"Starting an eBay Business" (CIG) Weltman & Katt

Pros: Covers just about everything
Cons: Dry as a gulch in a drought; quite a bit of material that’ll change over time
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Alpha Books.


Who doesn’t want to become an internet millionaire these days? Nearly everyone dreams of being able to work from home, setting their own hours and making money on something they love. One way of doing this is through selling items on eBay. If you don’t know where to begin, however, that can seem rather daunting. Hence, Barbara Weltman and Malcolm Katt’s Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an eBay Business, Second Edition.

This guide assumes nothing about your level of internet experience or how much you already know about the kind of business you want to run, and that’s both a positive and a negative. On the one hand, if you’re new to the internet and want to make money on eBay (after all, it can be a great boon to disabled and housebound people), you’ll probably be grateful for such basic information as how to register for a PayPal account and how to determine what you might want to sell. On the other hand, if you already have some internet experience and a basic idea of what you want to sell, then a good portion of this book will be irrelevant to you.

A pet peeve of mine in such guides is the screen-by-screen walk-through of website registration processes and the like. Why? For one, if you can’t figure out how to make it through the well-labeled form of a registration process, you’re unlikely to have the brainpower to run your own business. Two, websites change frequently. If there are folks out there who need to be hand-held through the process of signing up for an eBay account, then those same folks are presumably going to flounder if they get to said process and the form doesn’t look like the screenshot in the book. Usually CIG’s are good about not including so much of this kind of space-waster.

While it’s true that plenty of other information in here will also change (such as monthly fees for various services), such information is at least moderately useful since it’ll give the reader a ballpark idea of, say, what they might expect to pay for various types of eBay accounts or storefronts. So, remember to double-check any fees, terms of use, etc. rather than assuming they’ll remain unchanged from whatever’s in the book.


All that said, there’s plenty of handy information about eBay in this book. It’ll help you figure out what to sell, how to price it, where to buy it, and how to optimize your auctions so they’re more likely to sell. It’ll walk you through getting paid for your items and how to handle non-paying bidders. Packing and shipping, marketing your products, selling internationally… yep, it’s all in here.

The book also gets into plenty of detail on running your own business, such as keeping the books, handling inventory, getting insurance, hiring employees, paying taxes, etc. It discusses eBay fraud in some detail so you can avoid being taken for a ride, and walks you through raising money for your business. Much of this information is pretty general business management stuff.

Then it gets back into the more eBay-centric information with details of the PowerSeller program, different ways to sell via eBay (such as storefronts, trading assistants, etc.), auction-management tools, etc. Of course, some of the ‘tips & tricks’ (such as ways to uncover auctions that are likely to have fewer bidders so you can buy items on the cheap) will become less useful as more people know about them, so that’s one of those double-edged swords in a book like this.


This is definitely a handy book—don’t get me wrong. And if you’re starting from zero with no experience in running a business, selling online, using PayPal, etc., then it’s probably exactly what you want. It just seems to me that in trying to cover both the totally inexperienced newbie and the more focused or experienced businessperson, they’ve virtually guaranteed that no matter who you are, a good chunk of this book will be irrelevant to you.

Which might not be as bad if it weren’t so darn dry. I know it’s hard to make this kind of information interesting, but many other CIG’s manage it somehow. I had trouble staying awake through this one.

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