7 ObiBooks - Frequently Asked Questions
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ObiBooks - Frequenty Asked Questions

Last Revised Apr. 24, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions - Buyers

How do I find books on ObiBooks?
The best way is to use our Search Tool. Just enter a title or partial title, or the last name of an author to search ObiBooks.
How do I purchase books on ObiBooks?

When you visit a book's listing, you'll see a "Buy Now" button. Click it to purchase the book. You'll be prompted to confirm the order, and then you and the seller will receive notification that you are purchasing the book!

The seller then contacts you directly to determine the shipping and handling amounts for your location and to give you further instructions on how to pay for the book so it can be shipped!

I have ordered a book on ObiBooks. What are my next steps as a buyer?

Your seller will contact you with the total amount due, including shipping and handling, and may ask you to complete the transaction by using PayPal.

The seller may also offer you the options of paying by mailed cheque or money order.

Once your payment has been received by the seller, the seller must then ship the item to you within two business days.

Please allow enough time for the book to arrive, and allow extra time for your payment to reach the seller if you have mailed it. The seller should give you an estimated timeline for shipment.

I am interested in a book but I think the seller is asking too much for it. Can I make an offer?

Some sellers are open to negotiating the price of books they list. If the book you want is open for negotiation, there is a "Make offer" button on the book's listing page next to the "Buy Now" button. With this, you can make the seller an offer. If your offer is over a pre-set minimum that the seller will accept, the sale is completed at the price you offered. If not, the seller will have the opportunity to either accept your offer, make a counter-offer, or decline the offer altogether.

At each step in the negotiation process, both seller and buyer will receive notification emails advising them of the status of the negotiations.

At any time during the negotiation process, either party may cancel the negotiations by withdrawing an outstanding offer they have made or declining an offer made to them.

I have paid for a book I ordered but it has not arrived. What can I do?

First, ensure that enough time has elapsed. If you have elected surface shipping, or if you have paid by mail, or if you are on a different continent from the seller, expect the shipment to take considerably longer than if none of those factors applied.

Communicate directly with the seller. Ask when the item was shipped, by what carrier and method, and if they can give you a tracking number.

The seller must tell you what shipment method is being used and how long the shipping company normally takes to ship to your location using that method.

The seller must ship your item within 48 hours of receiving your payment. If you paid by cheque, the seller must ship within 48 hours of the cheque clearing.

The seller must ship the item using the carrier and method quoted. The seller is responsible for the cost of this even if the seller gave you an erroneous quote.

After the normal shipping time for the chosen carrier and shipping method has elapsed, we allow the seller a grace period depending on the method of shipment before we will ask the seller to produce evidence of shipping the item - such as a tracking number or the seller's copy of a shipping waybill.

After that grace period, if the item still has not arrived and the seller has not responded with proof of shipping, you should pursue a chargeback with PayPal or your credit card company.

If you paid by cheque, you may be able to stop payment if the seller has not cashed the cheque. You may also be able to file a complaint with the post office if you used a postal money order to make the payment.

Please be patient. Understand that factors beyond the seller's control can delay shipments in progress. Every seller who has been with us for any length of time deals honestly and is just as anxious about your book being late as you are. Once an item has been shipped, there is little that the seller or ObiBooks can do to accelerate its arrival.

If ObiBooks discovers a pattern of non-compliance with our Seller standards, we may elect to suspend the seller's account.

I ordered a book and it arrived on time, and I am happy with the transaction. Is there anything else to do?


  • You can return to the closed listing and rate the transaction. Buyer and seller ratings reward honest sellers and good buyers by letting them earn a good reputation in the ObiBooks community, and help to keep the site safe and fair by identifying problems. Here's how to leave a transaction rating:
    • Click "My ObiBooks" at the top left
    • Click the "My Recent Purchases" tab
    • Find the listing in the list of recent purchases and click "View Details"
    • In the box at the upper right of the listing, click the "Buyer - Rate Transaction" button. This only appears in listings where you are the buyer, and only when you have not yet rated the transaction.
    • On the next page, give the seller a rating from 0 to 5 stars and include any comments you would like to add. Be truthful and civil, even if the transaction didn't go well.
  • Enjoy your book! We're all here because we love books, so go read!

Frequently Asked Questions - Sellers

How do I sell books on ObiBooks?

It's easy! Just click "Sell" at the top of the page. Unlike other sites, you don't need a special "seller account" to sell books on ObiBooks!

After you click "Sell", you will be asked for the ISBN of the book you are selling. You don't have to enter an ISBN here (and if your book is old enough, it may not even have one!). In that case, just click "Continue".

Then, you will be given a form where you can describe the book you are selling, set an asking price, indicate whether you will accept offers, and set shipping rates.

If you entered an ISBN on the previous screen, and if ObiBooks was able to find information about the book from the ISBN, many of the fields on this form will already be pre-filled, including title, author, cover picture, description, and publication information. You can change, remove, or add to any of these as you like, so long as your listing remains an accurate description of the book you are selling.

Once you have entered and edited all of the particulars of the book you are selling, click "Post listing" at the bottom of the page. You'll be prompted to confirm the particulars of the listing and will be given the opportunity to go back and make any needed changes before you finalize the listing.

Once this is done, your new listing is live! Buyers will be able to find it in search immediately. Just sit back and wait for it to sell!

What does it cost to sell books on ObiBooks?

For sellers who maintain 100 active listings or fewer at any given time, selling is FREE! You can sell as many books as you want for free, as long as you have no more than 100 listed at a time.

If you wish to maintain more than 100 listings at a time, you will need either a Premium or Professional Membership.

  • A Premium Membership allows you to maintain up to 10,000 listings at a time! It costs USD $10 per month or USD $99 per year.
  • A Professional Membership allows you to maintain an unlimited number of listings at a time! Have a large bookstore with half a million volumes? You can list your entire inventory here! This costs USD $95 per month or USD $950 per year. You will find this far, far less expensive and time-consuming than maintaining your own bookstore website!

Regardless of your sales volume, there is no per-listing fee and no commission — unlike the major online auction sites!

Launch Promotion! Until August 31, 2016, ALL users can maintain unlimited listings at a time at no charge!

What happens to my listings after the Launch Promotion expires?

Launch Promotion! Until August 31, 2016, ALL users can maintain unlimited listings at a time at no charge!

  • After September 1, 2016, you will need to become a Premium or Professional Member in order to maintain more than 100 listings at a time.
  • If you have more than 100 listings but do not purchase a membership, your listings will persist until September 30, 2016 and then all but the 100 newest listings will expire.
  • If you have more than 10,000 listings but do not purchase a Professional Membership, your listings will persist until September 30, 2016 and then all but the 10,000 newest listings will expire.
  • If you purchase a membership appropriate for your listing volume by August 31, 2016, your listings will persist until they sell or until your membership expires.
  • If you have more active listings than your membership can accommodate, you will not be able to make new listings until your total listing count is below the limit (100 items for Free Memberships, 10,000 items for Premium Memberships).
What can and can't I sell on ObiBooks?

You can sell books, magazines, audio books, e-books, sheet music, maps and charts.

You can't sell anything else. No music, movies, or software. Nothing that doesn't belong on a bookselling site!

You can't sell anything stolen. This includes library books that you have borrowed.

You can't sell books in "Poor" condition. See our grading system for more information about this.

You can't sell anything illegal. See our Acceptable Use Policy for more information about what this means.

You can't sell books that have mould or other pathogens. Really! Mould spreads and wrecks entire collections. Mouldy books should not even be recycled; see if your local composting facility can accept them.

For more information about acceptable listing items on ObiBooks, please read our Acceptable Use Policy. The AUP is part of your contract with ObiBooks and you should understand it fully before you list anything on ObiBooks.

How should I price the books I am selling?

Pricing books can be tricky. The condition of a book - which you can determine using our grading system - is only one dimension in determining a book's value. First editions and printings (and in some cases, limited editions) are generally worth more as collectibles than most editions. With the exception of books that are very old (over 100 years, just to throw a ballpark figure out there) a book's age is usually NOT a major factor in its value. And of course, like all collectibles, scarcity and the importance of the title or its creator are major considerations when valuing books.

For most used books, a lot of used bookstores price used books at half their cover price, or half plus a small premium, or even half minus a small discount.

If you are selling new books, and especially remainders, users buying online will expect to pay less than the cover price.

For scarcer and older books, the title's scarcity and importance come into play and can result in very wide variations in market value.

The bottom line is that books are worth what people will pay for them. If your books aren't selling, you may have priced them too high. Consider adjusting your pricing accordingly.

Can you help me set prices?

We don't offer direct pricing assistance. However, the ObiBooks community and the greater bookselling internet can.

  • Try searching ObiBooks for existing and ended listings of the same title. Ended listings are especially helpful because they tell you what someone actually paid.
  • Try searching other sites for your title, such as eBay™ or Amazon™.
  • See if your title is offered for sale in local bookstores.
  • Ask other members in the ObiBooks forums
How much should I charge for shipping and handling?

You are expected to charge your actual cost, or very close to it. You can factor in things like packing materials and the cost of local transportation from your location to the shipping carrier as "handling" but you are expected not to use S&H charges as cash grabs. Make your profit honestly in the pricing of your books. We will suspend sellers who offer books for far less than their market value to lure sales and then inflate other fees to recover the loss.

Can I charge buyers for my merchant fees when they pay by credit card or PayPal?
No. This violates your merchant agreement with the credit card company, it is illegal in many jurisdictions, and it is prohibited on ObiBooks. Merchant fees are part of the general overhead of doing business on the internet, and customers hate being dinged extra to use their card. Just don't do it!
A book sold on ObiBooks. What are my next steps as a seller?
At this point, the ball is in your court.
  • Contact the buyer.
  • Give the buyer the final cost, including shipping based on their location.
  • If you accept PayPal, send the buyer a PayPal invoice
  • Give the buyer a reasonable amount of time to pay. 48 hours for PayPal or other online payment, a week or two for payment by check or money order through snailmail.
How can I list more than one book at a time?
We will soon have a Bulk Import feature which will allow you to upload a CSV file containing all the particulars of the books you wish to list. This new feature will be announced and promoted when it is available.
How can I have more than 100 books listed at the same time?

If you have a Premium Membership, you can have up to 10,000 listings active at the same time.

If you have a Professional Membership, you can have an unlimited number of listings active at the same time.

Can I have books featured on the front page?

This is a per-use premium service we hope to be able to offer soon. It will involve payment of a nominal fee to include one or more listings on the site's front page or in sidebars. This service will be offered on a per-listing basis, and a limited number of free featured listings will be included each month with a Professional Membership.

Until this service is available, the front page listings will be chosen at random from the 1,000 most recently placed listings.

Can I list more than one copy of the same title at a time?

At this time each copy must have its own listing.

We are developing rules and software to accommodate this. You will be able to list multiple copies of the same title in one listing as long as every copy is identical to the others in the listing in every way, including all condition details. This would mean, therefore, that only new items would be applicable to this format.

Can I list a collection of books in one listing?
We are developing rules and software to accommodate this. You will be able to list a group of books in a "lot" of two or more when this new feature is available, and you will even be able to include cover thumbnail images for all the titles in the lot which have ISBNs! This new feature will be announced and promoted when it is available.
I have sold a book but the buyer has not paid for it. What can I do?

Unlike other sites, we do not charge a commission or a per-listing fee (except for featured items). Therefore in most cases, we will not intervene when a buyer backs out of a sale without paying, because the seller has not incurred costs.

The exception to this is when a user has established a pattern of non-payment for multiple items that is, in our sole discretion, intended to interfere with sellers' legitimate sales.

If a buyer backs out (or is a no-show) of a transaction where the seller has paid a per-listing fee of any kind, we will investigate the transaction with both parties' involvement. If we determine that the buyer has not paid and in our opinion will not do so, we will then refund the seller for the amount of the per-listing fee.

Why can't I find the correct category for a book I am listing?

The initial set of categories was put together by one person (our founder) with his own set of personal, professional, and cultural biases. There are therefore many gaps in the categories' coverage.

The best way to improve the category tree is to crowdsource its development. This is done by accepting suggestions from you, our members!

Use the "Suggest a category" link at the bottom of the page and on the listing creation form to submit suggested new categories.

Frequently Asked Questions about Books

What is an ISBN?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number, which is a unique code that identifies a specific title from a specific publisher.

A book that has had more than one publisher may be available under more than one ISBN.

  • When selling, always use the ISBN you see on the cover or inside of the book.
  • When searching, remember that the ISBN may pertain to only one publication of the book, or one edition from that publisher, or even one printing of that edition! Better to search by title if you want all listings across all publishers, editions, and printings.

The ISBN is often used as the barcode in place of a UPC (Universal Product Code). It can be either 10 digits or 13 digits long.

  • When it is 10 digits long, the last digit can be a number or the letter X.
  • When it is 13 digits long, it always starts with 978 or 979.
  • Many books have both numbers; always use the 13 digit one for listings, or the 10 digit one for search, if you have the choice.
How do you assess the condition of used books?
See our Grading system. All books on ObiBooks must be graded according to this system.