We are No Longer Selling Books as Amazon Marketplace Sellers

Books for Sale

It’s official, we are no longer selling books on Amazon.  For those of you who didn’t know, we have been selling books on Amazon in the Amazon Marketplace (those are the used and new books you see when Amazon is sold out or when you just want to buy the same book Amazon sells for $39.99 for $.01) for years.  Yesterday we sold all our remaining inventory, some 4,000 used/new books in one large bulk sale to a buyer in Texas.  For Deb and I, the books had become (as Andy Stanley put it last week) the old sofa that no one wants to get rid of because it has always been there.

We started selling book on Amazon at the same time we were full time eBay sellers (eBay lost out as a viable place to sell as a business long long before Amazon) back in 2005, and sold full time on Amazon in 2006-2008, and it was some of the hardest work, most laborious, and in the end least profit making work I can ever recall doing in my life.  It came at a time when Deb and I needed to work from home, needed and wanted to work together, and many blessings came our way over those years of selling books online.

Over our selling life on Amazon, we sold over 9,000 books at a retail price of $65,000 (that’s not as much as it sounds when you divide by 3 years and then start thinking profit margins), kept a high feedback rating, and learned a lot about hard work and to appreciate what we were given.  Not much different than what we gained and learned from our previous businesses we started and ran together, except that this particular one took over our entire house top to bottom.

Amazon Marketplace Seller

After running several small businesses over the past 10-12 years I have come to understand that each business or product has a defined life cycle, especially when you are running very small self made businesses.  Products come in and out, jobs, customers, and life in general, has a lifespan or timeframe where some things work well.  The key is to know when it is time to move on and get rid of the old sofa.  For the books, yesterday was that day, and we were both thrilled.  There were many many reasons, but knowing it was indeed the right time to let it go was a good feeling.

Anyone that wants to know the inner workings of selling on eBay or Amazon feel free to drop me an email.  Combined I think we have about 12-15 years experience selling on both platforms and we lived and breathed eBay and Amazon, so we do know our way around.  We certainly know how to get in trouble with big brother, and how to survive when the rules get changed (and they always do).

Our online selling life was great, and really is always something we think about no matter what we are working on or doing.  In those years, we managed to:

  • work together 24/7, netting 20,800 more hours spent together
  • fought off fraud
  • and copyright infringement issues
  • fended off domain landsharks
  • had $300,000 in sales without making a profit
  • sold alongside corrupt competition
  • continually fought customer theft
  • avoided a few lawsuits
  • didn’t sue a few times when we could have
  • were falsely accused of anything and everything
  • Witnessed to many (I hope)
  • were praised and awarded
  • ridiculed
  • made some great friendships
  • ate at a huge unknown number of restaurants
  • filed for our own patents and trademarks
  • never clocked in once
  • travel to every state in the country
  • live in a bus, apartment, house, tent, campground
  • lived in Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Alabama (and many others)
  • filled approximately 250,000 orders
  • counted approximately 2 million crystals
  • imported products from Austria
  • invented our own products
  • worked for a competitor
  • took 50,000 product images
  • went through about 30 computers
  • used miles and miles of tape, boxes, and packaging
  • cried, laughed, bled, and cherished every second

Thankfully for us, now, we have both moved on to a new chapter in our lives together and it doesn’t look like there will be much online selling involved, and that’s a good thing, because I am exahusted.

Our 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat has Sold

Scott and Deborah When They Bought LAUGHALOT

Sailboats in the Bear Point Marina

Today we have officially moved on to a new chapter in our leisure time life.  We have sold our sailboat in Orange Beach, the 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 which we bought in Tampa in April of 2007.  We had big dreams for this particular sailboat (over the other two sailboats we have owned) but we finally decided the distance from Auburn to Orange Beach was just to much to maintain. Plans are to replace her with a tiny little camper and go back to our camping roots and get to know some of the land and parks here in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida.

We first officially put the sailboat up for sale on June 3rd (For Sale: 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat in Orange Beach) but decided by September that we needed to go ahead and sell the boat.  Our philosophy has been pretty much the same every since we got married.  If we are not using it, and well, then we don’t need it and should not keep what ever that happens to be at the time.  Having sold on eBay full time for many years, and the Internet in general, people tend to want to get what they paid for on items when they go to resell them, we know this just isn’t the case (see also What is Your Blog or Internet Business Worth // eBay or Sitepoint?), so, when we want to sell something, we sell it.

This is good for the buyer of course, but when we have made up our mind to do something, we would rather do it than sit around for month after month working on it.  When we started looking for this boat, a Morgan Out Island, there were not many on the market, but the ones that were on the market, are actually still on the market, 18 months later.  Not because they are not good boats, they are, but because these people refused to sell something for what someone else would pay for it.  A concept we don’t get.  So we sold it for half of what we paid for it, but we had some wonderful times on the boat and great memories, worth more than what we paid or sold the boat for anyway.

Now it is time to move on, although we will both miss having this sailboat, she was great.

Continue reading “Our 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat has Sold”

Our Bus Conversion MCI MC-9, Detroit Diesel 6V92, Allison Transmission

our bus

For more reasons than can be expressed, we are selling our bus that we called home for more than 5 years. It has been up in Colorado for the last two years and needs a new home. Below is how it was listed on eBay. It was a successful auction and the new owner now has it up in St Louis and will continue building where we left off.

We were sad to see it go, but glad to see it went to someone who will enjoy it as much as we did.

our bus

our mci bus

As Listed on eBay on July 14th, 2008

Bus Conversion TMC MCI MC9 MC-9, Detroit Diesel 6V92

Vehicle Description

This auction is for an MCI 9 bus conversion that is at about 50-60% complete. This bus was purchased in Florida as a church bus, was previously a greyhound bus. We purchased the bus for $20,000, shelled the bus, then built it from the ground up to what it is right now. The only thing it really needs to finish it off is a finished floor and ceiling, and some reworking of the bins to fit current needs. We replaced the Detroit Diesel 6V92 and had a completely new engine put in it in our home state of Alabama. After the new engine (ordered directly from Detroit, a 6V92 rebuild) we put less than 1000 hours on it, and it has always worked perfectly.

The bus is currently sitting in Creede Colorado and has to be moved before the end of the summer months. Creede is very cold, and summer ends August to September. We have to have the bus moved from this location. We had a death in the family and the house property it is sitting on is being sold, so it can not stay at its current location. The winning bidder must have the bus moved by September 1st.

The bus has been in its current location for about 2 years. We stored it in Colorado because we were building a house and the weather there is cold and dry, great for storage. The engine has not been cranked since then. It will need a new set of starting batteries and a full tank of fuel and probably need the fuel lines bled to prime the pumps and the throttle cable needs to be fixed (that is just a wire that attaches to the throttle in the engine compartment, an easy fix).

The bus is being sold as is, where it is, with no intended warranty. The bus is titled in Alabama and we have clear title, and it is title in the state of Alabama as a motorhome. We will sign and ship the title upon receipt of final payment for the bus.

My wife and I were full timers in this bus for almost 5 years and traveled to every state in the U.S. in this bus. We have made countless upgrades, fixes, adjustments, and we have put over $75,000 of improvements into the bus, plus a $20,000 Detroit 6V92 engine. We worked for almost 6 years on the cabinets which are all solid wood, no partial board. All cabinets are custom made for this bus. The kitchen has huge cabinets, draws, and great counter space. Some of the features include.

All in all, we have:
Original Bus purchase – $20,000
Improvements – $75,000
New Detroit 6V92 – $20,000
Total added by us – $115,000

Our loss is your chance for a great gain if you are looking for a new DIY project or just need a Detroit 6V92 Turbo engine. The engine itself is probably worth what the auction will close for, so if all you want out of it is the engine, it is in great shape, but, the bus MUST be moved from its current location. There is even storage facilities nearby that you could just have a towing company bring it to for later use if that is what you wanted to do.

What is included with the bus:

GREAT Detroit Diesel 6V92 Turbo
Installed in 2004 by Detroit dealer
Less than 1,000 original hours on the engine
This engine was professionally installed by a Detroit bus dealer in Alabama. This is a very popular engine still in use today on buses, fishing boats, and a ton of construction equipment. It is a power horse of an engine and costs us $20,000 to install.

this was original with the bus as far as we know. We have never had a problem with the transmission at all

We purchased 6 new Goodyear G-391 tires. These tires were about $650 each at the time of purchase. They have about 50% treat on them. The tags have about 5% tread and we did not replace them. There is a spare tire in the front compartment. We have all chrome rims on each wheel. There were also about $3,000 for the set and includes the drives.

Two RV A/C units – the rear unit has a bad squirel cage motor, but the compressor is great, the other works perfectly.
3 FULL 100 watt solar panels and control panel mounted on the roof
A stackable washer/dryer. Installed only months before we parked it, they work GREAT. These are the full stackage units from Lowes built into the closet.
20 gallon hot water heater
Large TV
All granite marble counter tops, professionally installed.
All solid wood cabinets
Flexsteel chairs
Large full size side by side refrigerator with ice maker
Full size shower
RV toilet
Bathroom sink in matching marble counter top with cabinets

The bus has three full open bins. The first bin to the front was where we stored the house batteries, it now has the hot water heater on one side with electric boxes in the middle and storage on the other side. The middle bin is storage and the rear bin has the tanks. There are 4 75 gallon tanks. Two 75 gallon black/grey and two 75 gallon fresh tanks. There are two water pumps, one for the front and one for the rear of the bus. The washer/dryer drains into the grey tanks. There is also a small portable generator on the outside bin under and rear of the drivers seat.

This is a work in progress motorhome, rv, bus, project. It needs some TLC if you want to make it into a home, if you want everything we have put into it at this point, you will still need to remove it from the current location first. I am sure there are a tons of things that are included here that I forgot to mention. Keep in mind that this is a DIY project. A ton of work has been done, and we lived and drove the bus while we did the work, but it is not a finished and polished half a million dollar motor home or Prevost. It can be if you want to put some work in it, or you can use it as is like we did for many years.

I will answer any questions here on the listing. Please review all the photos included. They are from the time we bought the bus in 2000 through the conversion process. The cabin with the snow is where the bus is currently sitting. I can give you the exact address if you like, the bus is actually viewable in google earth where it sits.

We did not place a reserve on the auction and we started the listing at a penny because we need to sell the bus and have it removed from the property so the owner can sell the house. We currently live in Alabama and can not afford to pick it up and drive it down to our house, otherwise we wouldn’t sell it because we have put so much into this bus.

The winning bidder will need to pay 10% up front through paypal within 24 hours of the end of the auction. The remaining payment needs to be made within a few days through a money order or cashier’s check from a U.S. bank only. We will only sell to U.S. bidders that can remove the bus from the property. Once we receive the final cashier’s check payment we will express mail the title to you. The next door neighbor to the property is a very helpful person who works in construction. He can fill the fuel tank for you and possibly help with logistics. We will provide you his name and phone number when the auction is over.

If you do not have any feedback or low feedback, have negative feedback please contact us prior to bidding. We are only taking serious bidders and if your user ID does not look to be legitimate, your bid will be removed and your user ID blocked from future bidding. We have sold professionally on eBay for many years under the ID piecesofthepast-al, so you can check our great feedback over there too. Any attempt at fraudulent bidders will be removed.

On Jul-08-08 at 03:39:23 PDT, seller added the following information:

I am very sorry I can’t believe I forgot to put the year and transmission type. The bus is a 1980 TMC MCI-9 with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

On Jul-09-08 at 12:30:40 PDT, seller added the following information:

There have been a few questions that I will try to address here.

1. Q-Can the next door neighbor help with getting it started?
A- you would need to work that out with him. I will provide the winning bidder with his name and phone number, he is aware we are selling the coach. He will probably do what he can for you, he is a super nice guy.

2. Q-what do I need to do to get the bus started?
A- the coach has been at this location in storage since we stopped traveling about 2 years ago. The new engine has about 10,000 miles on it, about 1,000 hours total, so the engine is in great condition. Anyone familiar with big diesel engines knows they need a few things to get going. Heat, fuel, and power. So,
(1) You will need two new truck sized starting batteries (these are big rig bats).
(2) You will need to prime the fuel lines. This just takes filling the tank with diesel (full if possible), disconnecting the fuel line from the engine and starting the flow into the filters. The reconnecting them.
(3) and heat. The engine is equipped with a great engine block heater. It will need to heat up the coolant for several hours to get a good crank (this is just because it has been sitting, don’t have to do this each time). Coolant levels should also be checked.
(4) block heater must be turned off prior to cranking the engine. There is a rear engine starter on the control panel from the back, pretty standard.

3. Q-are there any repairs that need to be made prior to driving off.
A – The only thing I know of is the throttle cable. It came disconnected at the engine block. This is just a metal wire that broke. All you need to do is connect the two pieces together with a bracket or metal crimp. This is an easy and very very cheap repair but needs to be looked at. Once you start it and air it up, just as a standard practice you will need to check the air lines/valves to make sure you don’t have any air leaks. No bus is air tight, they all seep air from their systems.

4. Q-How many miles does the coach have, what kind of gas mileage does the Detroit 6V92 get?
A – this is almost impossible to answer since it spent its life as a greyhound bus. Once retired we put about 80,000 miles on it, and about 10,000 miles on the new engine (1,000 hours). The bus dash board does have an accurate engine hour gage which is total hours for the bus but I don’t remember what it is reading right now. Gas mileage on a 6V92 is 6-7mpg and doesn’t change much no matter what you do. It is a HUGE engine.

5. Q-When is it available to be picked up?
A – we are going to be at the bus the first week in August to remove our personal belongings from inside. This is just a few remaining clothes and items like that. After that, you can take it any time you like between August 5th and September 5th or so. It needs to be removed prior to the winter setting in when you will not be able to move the bus due to the weather in that part of CO.

6. Q-Do you have clear title?
A – yes, we do. The title is from the state of Alabama and it is stated on the title as a motorhome.

7. Q-Can I call you to ask you a question?
A – yes, just send me an email and I will send you my office phone number where you can call me during office hours.

On Jul-12-08 at 04:15:38 PDT, seller added the following information:ADDITIONAL Q&A

There have been a few more questions come through that I wanted to address, these are a continuation of the first posted Q&A.

1. Q – What condition is the generator in and, how big is it, where is it?

A – the generator is just a small portable 3500 watt gas generator, same as you would buy at Lowes or Home Depot. It was running when we left it, but it is a gas generator so I am not really sure about its status. The cost from Lowest was something like $500-$700 or so. We used it a lot, so it might need a good carburetor cleaning after sitting a while. You can take the 50amp plug for the coach electric and plug it into the 30amp generator and it runs everything except usually only one a/c unit at a time (or the hot water heater in the front bin). The front bin has the 120v on one side and the 12v wiring on the other side and there is a 20 gallon electric hot water heater in the middle of the front bin. The wiring isn’t real pretty looking but you can just plug the 120v into either outside RV power or the generator. Any other questions at all just let me know, thanks. Scott

2. Q – Will you send the keys with the title?

A -there are no keys to start or run the bus, it is a push button, but there are also several switches you have to flip, in order, to be able to crank it. Almost all buses built during this time were built without a key ignition. We did however put in a keyed entry on the door which is locked, and that we will send with the title, but we also have a copy of that key in the cabin where the bus is sitting and when we are up there in the first week of August we will place that key in the bus somewhere.

3. Q – I know the bus is being sold as-is, but what if I don’t know how to get it started, what then?
A – it will be the owners responsibility to move the bus off the property. The winning bidder will need to make their final payment within 3 days of the winning bid. At that point the title and key will be mailed to you, and then you own it, it will be your responsibility to move it, if not by you, a local mechanic can get it started, or you could have it transported to a local shop to have them start it. Either way, I could safely say, using the steps I outlines in the auction, I could go right up there and have it running in a matter of a day. There are several good diesel mechanics around the south central Colorado area. If you couldn’t get it started, I would have one come out and start it.

4. Q – Is September 1st the last day to move it set in stone?
A – I said it needed to be moved by September 1st, this is not set in stone, we have a little wiggle room on the “remove by date”. It starts to get very cold up there in September / October so it is as much the weather as the house being sold, so no, if you needed to move it on September 3rd or 8th, that is fine, just needs to be moved before the freeze starts to set in or the house is sold (freeze will most likely come first).

5. Q – Can I stay in the bus a few days while I am there to pick it up?
A – You can stay there in the bus while you work on getting it ready to move if that is what you want to do. Keep in mind there is no water there. Everything gets winterized in a severe way when no one is there, that includes the outside water. There is 50amp electric on the pole where the bus is parked, that will be on and you can plug in there if you need to while you are there.

6. Q – Will the guy next door fill up the fuel tank for me?
A – I will provide the name and phone number of the next door neighbor. What he does and doesn’t do for you is up to him, but he has told me in the past that he can get the fuel tank filled up. You will probably need to send him a payment and then he can have it fuel up before you arrive. It holds about 150 gallons of diesel.

7. Q – Can I go see the bus if I am close by?
A – yes, by all means, please run by and take a look at it if you like. Email me and I will send you the address where the bus is located, but the auction ends on Monday and we will not “hold” it until you go see the bus, sorry.

These are all very good questions and I will post additional Q&A’s here as they come in over the weekend if needed. Please contact me with any questions you might have, I will respond as quickly as possible. Thanks, Scott

eBay Partner Network Affiliate Replaces CJ

Ebay Partner NetworkToday eBay announced the official opening of the eBay Partner Network (or EPN) which, in 30 days no less, will replace Commission Junction as the sole affiliate program for eBay.

For those casual users of the eBay affiliate program, the email this morning might come as a bit of a surprise but they have been working on this for some time, and promise to have a better reporting and functionality, although I have been very happy with Commission Junction for many years now.

The news didn’t go unnoticed by those in the blogging world where you could find several posts this morning like eBay Partner Network now live by Sue from Tamebay, eBay Dumps Commission Junction from Net Profits, a good discussion from Shoemoney in eBay Affiliate Program FINALLY Drops the CJ Dead Weight, and several others. For those working with the eBay affiliate program in one way or another, this is big news.

What is an Affiliate?

If you are unfamiliar with how affiliates work, it is a simple concept that has been around for quite some time. A company offers an affiliate partner (the user) an incentive of some kind, usually money, to promote their company. At this point almost all companies do this in one form or another, and even small ecommerce sites can setup affiliates for their customer. I am both an affiliate partner and an affiliate provider through one of our small ecommerce sites.

You can even see this on non-eccommerce site and large B&M companies. DirectTV has offered $50 to anyone who gets a friend to sign up for a new satellite TV account for a long time, this is just a simple affiliate offering that can be done by anyone who has a friend who needs their service.

How Much Does an Affiliate Pay?

This is always the question. How much can I actually make using something like this. The answer is just about as much as you are willing to put into building your affiliate network. For most of us, we don’t have a 40 hour work week we can devote to an affiliate program, so we use it where we can, when we can.

I have posted my most recent report below, so you can see it isn’t much. We current run about $100 a month on the eBay affiliate program but it doesn’t take much effort to produce results like that below. We have made as much as $500-$600 a month and as little as nothing. It all depends on how much work you want to put into the program.

Commission Junction Report

If you have time, and minor programming skills, there are many people that make a nice living with all the various affiliate networks. Like anything else it can take quite a bit of time to initially set up, but once set up, it can run and produce some nice revenue without much effort or maintenance.

Using an Affiliate Program With eCommerce

It works very similar to an ad network like Google Adwords except without the ads. It can also be perceived by your customers and visitors as an unwelcome way to use them to receive a payment for something. So if you use it on an ecommerce site you should keep a few things in mind.

  • Don’t let it take away from direct sales
  • Don’t let it effect your customers perception of your good business practices
  • Use it sparingly in areas of your website that need some filler
  • Make sure you are familiar with the TOS of the network
  • Have real expectations about revenue, and plan accordingly
  • Know the effect on customer service and be willing to change

As with anything else you do on your website, make sure that the benefit you receive for using something is worth doing. I know many sites that use Google Adwords in various places and receive little or nothing in return. If you are making $1.00 a month on a banner ad on your header, perhaps a $25 ad sold to a supplier might be a better use of that space.

This section could be expanded to pages and pages as there are several issues involved with using an affiliate program and an ecommerce site you earn a living from, so proceed with an ounce of caution when adjusting a shopping cart platform. The customers that buy from your site daily are far more important than an affiliate program, so make sure they are happy first.

eBay’s Affiliate Program

Ebay Partner NetworkI have been a part of this program for probably 5-8 years now, and they have always used Commission Junction. Thank goodness for us, the migration over to eBay’s platform will not be a huge expenditure of time, but it will take some re-coding and apparently, it needs to be done by May 1st.

There is already someone in the forums who seems to have been denied an account but it does seem to be operating on an automatic basis as far as the sign up process goes. I simply filled out the forms on the sign up sheet, received an activation email, then you will have to go back to the site and enter your payment information to be paid. I did try to move a few of my applications over and they were not completed on eBay’s end yet, they said… coming soon… so hopefully they will be fixed quickly. Then comes the fun part, moving all your affiliate links over to eBay program instead of Commission Junction.

The Google Effect

I thought I would mention this in passing as well. I few weeks ago, Google also announced a change in the way their advertisers can use their URL structure for ads. This was, I think, an attempt to keep affiliates that mislead customers but it had to have a huge effect on the affiliate programs in total.

Important Change to URL Policy Enforcement
Starting in April, display URLs for new ads will be required to match their destination / landing page URLs, without exception. Please adjust your URLs accordingly when creating new ads. -google

You can now no longer display a url and have the link url go to a different place. This technique was used for good purposes by many people but also used to trick people into thinking they were an official advertiser for that particular display url company.


It does look like the new EPN will be good once all the work is completed on eBay’s end, and on the providers end. The report functionality looks great, and the process seems to be a little more straight forward than before. It was always a semi-confusing process to a newbie, but many things are until you learn the in’s and out’s.

Have you moved your links over yet or joined the new EPN?

Miami to Daytona and a New Honda Nighthawk

Coming Home From Miami and Daytona

Another thing that Scott and I like to do is go to sporting events. These include, but are not limited to, all major league sports, minor league baseball, and college sports of all kinds. We planned this trip so that we could catch a Florida Marlins vs. Houston Astros game in formerly “Joe Robbie” stadium. This is a stadium that I have always wanted to visit.

It was so hot during the game (mid-day game) that we left after about the 5th inning. You can see from the photo that 90% of the stadium was empty right from the beginning of the game. Heat and a “not so good team” were probably the main reasons for this, but we enjoyed the game none the less.

After we left the game and went back to the hotel to freshen up we found a little place on the ocean to eat dinner called O’Mallys Ocean Pub. The dining was outside, with a live band and the tables were about 50′ from the crashing waves. Magnificent!

While we were on our trip to the keys we decided to get serious about finding Scott a bike so we could ride together. We decided to take the “scenic” route home to Alabama through Daytona in order to pick up new bike bells for each other. There is a legend that goes with these bells and they are supposed to be given to a rider by a friend. We picked out our bells in Daytona at a place called “Hot Leathers” (hmmmm) and purchased them for each other, had a spectacular lunch at Johnny Rockets overlooking the ocean (one last time) and then it was back on the road for home.

Scott’s Bike

After arriving home we wasted no time in finding a bike on eBay for Scott. We picked it up the next weekend and have been riding together almost every day since. Here are some photos of the proud new owner of a Honda Nighthawk 750 in the rare blue color.

Loaded Up on the Trailer

We loaded the new bike up on the trailer after Scott took it around the neighborhood for a test ride. The bike is in great condition and although it has a lot more power than my Honda Rebel, they ride great together.