eBay for Dummies
by Marsha Collier
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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In case you live in a cave (and there's nothing wrong with that) eBay is an astronomically huge auction web site. Basically, it is like one giant worldwide garage sale.

To latch their hooks into the phenomenon, the folks at Dummies have written a basic guide to the eBay site, and I intend to review it.

The book is divided into five parts. Each part has three or more chapters. I'll list the titles of those parts below so you can get a feel for the subject coverage and decide if this is a book for you.

Part I: Forget the Mall: Getting a Feeling for eBay

The first chapter gives you a really quick overview and history of eBay. There are several types of auctions on the site (traditional, reserve-price, restricted-access, private and Dutch), and a description of each is listed.

Also covered in this introductory section are eBay's role in the auctions, and how to buy a computer to meet your eBay needs. Of course, the authors steer you to eBay to purchase said computer.

The last half of the first section offers step-by-step instructions for signing up on eBay, creating an eBay home page, and customizing various options on the site to meet your needs.

Part II: Are You Buying What They Are Selling?

This section discusses ways to get the most for your money. There is a true art to successful bidding, and the authors discuss that here. Also important is researching the history of the item(s) you want, to make sure you don't overbid.

The sixth chapter holds your hand as you make your first bid. All of the different elements that make up a bid page are defined.

Also helpful, is the explanation and emphasis on members' feedback ratings. This is an excellent gauge that can be used to see if a member is trustworthy. Members with poor feedback are usually a high risk.

When the auction is over and you're the winner, <b>eBay For Dummies</b> discusses the different payment options, including escrow services.

Part III: Are You Selling What They Are Buying?

Chapter eight jogs your brain for trash and treasure that can be found around your house. You, too, can be a seller on eBay!

Once you find your hot item, the next chapters give you step-by-step instructions on preparing and listing the item for sale on eBay. This book also assists you as buyer or seller on recommendations for closing the deal.

Not all auctions run smoothly and end with a great bidding price. The eleventh chapter offers various troubleshooting tips for smooth sailing on eBay.

Want to maximize your profits? In chapter 12, these authors recommend you add a photo of your hit item to your bid page. In true <I>Dummy</I> form, there are instructions for selecting the right scanner or digital camera, achieving a clear image, and storing images on your computer.

Part IV: Oy Vay, More eBay!: Special Features

I hope you're not superstitious. The theme for the 13th chapter is protecting your privacy. eBay does collect information on its users. This book discusses the compiled information and how secure it is on the site.

In case you didn't know, eBay has a program called Safe Harbor. The name is self-explanatory. Safe Harbor protects the good users from the site abusers. There are lots of ways to break the rules at eBay, and the authors list those ways in this chapter, so you can be on the look out.

There are also instructions for reporting abuse yourself to Safe Harbor. Other topics covered in this chapter are suspensions, insurance, mediation, authentication, appraising, ID verification, and fraud.

The fifteenth chapter discusses the entire eBay community. Just like Epinions, there is a whole other world of clubs and message boards out there devoted to the mother site. This chapter helps you find interesting discussions for whatever your needs may be.

Also discussed in this section are the special eBay charity auctions. Celebrities donate great items, you bid, and all the proceeds go to charity.

Part V: The Part of Tens

This section is just sort of a quick review. It is done in the form of "10 Golden Rules." There is no need for me to go into detail. If you choose to read the book, then you'll see the rules.

So what did I think of eBay for Dummies? Well, I found it pretty helpful. Your view of the book will depend on your experience with and future intentions on eBay.

Personally, I am an infrequent buyer. I don't visit the site regularly, so I found some of the information in this book helpful. For instance, I had never heard of Safe Harbor before reading this book. I didn't even notice the link on the bottom of the eBay page.

Who Should Buy This Book: Computer novices who have little to no experience at eBay and plan on hosting countless auctions and making a killing.

Who Should Check This Book Out From the Library: People who have little to no experience at eBay and plan on hosting or bidding at some auctions, but not many. These people are interested in finding out how to get the best deal without getting screwed.

Who Doesn't Need to Read This Book: People who are already very familiar with eBay. Also those who are great self-starters and are willing to find all this information out of their own by thoroughly scanning the entire eBay site. Oh, and those who don't "do" eBay obviously won't receive any benefit from the book.

Wow! Would you look at the length of this thing! I am so sorry to put you through this. I hope I was able to give you a well-informed review so you can decide if eBay for Dummies is for you.

Happy bidding!