12-Year-Old Creates Game for iOS, Android, and HTML5 – Gravity Lines

Over 8 years ago I wrote a post titled 10 Things I Learned From My 4-Year-Old and it generated a lot interest and controversy on Reddit. Today my son Niklas is 12 years old and he still teaches me things everyday. Now he has accomplished an amazing thing that I promised him I would share with all of you.

At 12-years-old Nik has published his first app to iOS and Android! I’ve linked to it at the bottom of this post and I want to encourage you to download the app, rate it, and give it a review.

Gravity Lines

It is a simple game where a line moves along a platform and you tap the screen to flip it to the other side trying to avoid touching other lines. It was inspired from the games Geometry Dash and Flappy Bird.

Nik spent hundreds of hours programming this app and we had a lot of challenges and stress along the way. The first challenge was that Nik insisted that we publish it for both the major mobile platforms, iOS and Android. At first we thought he would have to program the app twice, once for each platform. The other challenge was that to build an app for iOS you must own a Mac and pay $99 to become a registered Apple developer. We didn’t own a Mac and neither of us were Apple developers, so Nik put his money where his mouth was and spent half his life savings purchasing and Mac mini and registering as a Apple Developer (which we had to register under my name since Nik isn’t officially old enough to register for anything on the internet). From there he found a library called LibGDX at BadLogicGames that allowed him to program his app in eclipse using java and publish to four platforms from one code base, iOS, Android, HTML5, and desktop.

Please understand Nik did ALL the programming and ALL the heavy lifting here, I helped answer a few questions, get him pointed in the right direction, and setup the Apple development environment, but Nik did all of the rest himself.

Over the last year or so Nik has started an after school programming club which sold out the first day it was offered as an official club. He has also started the Pizza Scripters which is a group of kids his age who love to code and want to encourage other kids to code by publishing their work online in the hope that showing what is possible will inspire other kids to take up coding and push schools to start offering coding as a core competency like reading, writing, and math.

So go ahead get Gravity Lines for your device!

Gravity Lines Lite (Free, Apple iOS)
Gravity Lines Full ($.99, Apple iOS)

Gravity Lines Lite (Free, Android)
Gravity Lines Full ($.99, Android)

Once you’ve played it, please take a few moments to rate it and review it.

You can also play Gravity Lines Lite on the Pizza Scripters website for free.

How to Be a Luckier Person

When discussing a wildly successful person, I’m sure you’ve heard this:

“He was at the right place and the right time. Sure it was a good idea but it was mostly luck.”

Some negative nabob throws a wet blanket on the idea that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. However, there is an element of truth to this statement. Success does have a large component of luck but there is more to the story.

Was Bill Gates in the right place at the right time with the right idea? Yes. Was that luck? Yes.

Were the Beatles in the right place at the right time with the right music? Yes, and that was luck too.

There are countless stories like these. But there is a missing act to this narrative; all the practice, studying, effort, and failure that led up to that lucky moment.

Writers all start with shitty first drafts, then they rewrite and revise and edit, then they submit it to other writers for criticism, then they rewrite and revise again. After all that work, their first works will face repeated rejection (even the greats like Stephen King). The ‘lucky’ ones will work and fail until they ‘just get lucky.”

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

If you step onto a golf course having never swung and club, what are the odds of hitting a hole in one – worse than 50,000,000 to 1. How about if you played 36 holes a day, had professional training, and you had achieved a low handicap? Now your odds are 5,000 to 1. Does it still take luck? Yes it does, but your hard work and training has improved you odds by 1,000,000x!

“The harder I work, the luckier I get” – Samuel Goldwyn

But there is more to it than just hard work, it takes accepting failure as the natural path toward your goal.

Accept this: Without failure – you stagnate – improvement ends. Since perfection is unachievable, improvement is all you can work toward.

If you’re feeling unlucky today, pick your head up, puff your chest out little, and take another shot.

Luck doesn’t find you, you have to seek it out.

Judgmentalism Hurts You

A friend pointed out how judgmentalism holds people back. (I know some of you are already thinking ‘judgmentalism…’is that even a word? I don’t care if it is or it isn’t, you know what I mean. So stop being so judgmental :-) )

Judgmentalism is just as destructive as all the other -isms.

She told a story about a coworker of hers who was smart, talented, and savvy, seemingly having everything one needed to climb to the next level. So what was holding him back? His judgmental view of others.

He would talk behind other people’s backs and purposely exclude others. When specific names were mentioned his sarcam would drip and he’d hurl snide remarks meant to insult. Nothing angry, it didn’t jump at you, and if you weren’t paying attention you would get a sick feeling and not be sure why. He was clearly trying to separate himself from ‘losers.’

So why does he do this if it isolates him and makes others feel sick? It works for him. It makes him feel safe. He’s built cliques, secret little clubs with only people who are worthy of his inflated sense of self-importance. These cliques attract people with the promise of being part of something that makes you better than others. These cliques attract judgmental people, bullies, and the insecure by definition. It is a passive aggressive social club.

How does it hold him back? It keeps him from connecting with people who are different from him which stifles growth. It blocks him from making deep social connections. It prevents him from developing alliances that he will need when he wants to accomplish his goals. It makes him look immature.

I began to recall the many times I was involved in this judgmental social behavior, either as the judge, the listener, or the judged, and I realized how destructive it was. Each time it felt like it bruised my soul and I vowed to try to never participate in it again.

Does that mean we need to hold back all judgment? No. We need to choose with whom we spend our time. We need to decide who to hire. Almost all great humor requires am element of judgment or stereotyping.

It means we would be better off if we suspend uttering judgments of others when we are speaking about specific people.

…he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her… – Jesus Christ speaking to the scribes and Pharisees who were asking him to condemn a woman accused of adultery.

Birthday Today – 45 Years Old!

You know, when I was 15 I didn’t think I’d live to see 18 and when I made 18, I didn’t think I’d live to see 21. Well here I am at 45 and in the best shape of my life.

I’ve included a tribute to all of us who grew up in those days and made it. Here’s too ya!

Just curious, if you’re still reading this blog, drop me a comment and let me know.

5 Simple Ways to Build Self Confidence

Guest Post by Matt Maresca

Having self confidence is one of the biggest keys to your success. If you do not believe in yourself, it is difficult to accomplish any worthwhile mission. Further, if you do not exude a sense of confidence, other people will not have confidence in you. Below you will find five tips for building self confidence. Don’t just think about these tips, give them a try. Allow them to work for you!

1. Start Each Day with a Smile

Don’t ignore this tip because it sounds cheesy. Smiling has a special way of making you feel good about yourself and your life. When you smile, you are accentuating the positive; you are exuding happiness and contentment.

But don’t just smile; think of a reason to smile. You are alive. You are about to start another day. This could be a very special day. A new day means new opportunities. And this means new ways to make yourself happy and get closer to your ultimate goals.

So tomorrow morning, when you wake up, think of all you have in life and smile warmly. Beginning the day on a positive note will set the tone for you to do great things.

2. Dump Your Doubts on Paper

We all have doubts. We all have worries. Some of us just tend to let these things stew in our minds more than others. Don’t let these doubts eat away at you throughout the day. Get them out on paper in the morning. Write out all your doubts, and just keep writing all your thoughts. Don’t even think about what you are doing. A lot of your doubts are subconscious. Simply start your writing with, “I have doubts about myself. They are…” and just keep writing until you are done.

Many times, you’ll find that as you are writing you will discover that a lot of your doubts seem silly. Sometimes you’ll begin to subconsciously start thinking about your strengths. This is because your strengths may lie below your doubts in your brain’s hierarchy right now. Once you dump your doubts from your brain, you will find out what actually you like about yourself.

3. Do Something You Love to Do

It’s no secret that we tend to do best at the things we love to do. This is because we can really put our heart and spirit into it. Take some time out today and do something you really love doing. Immerse yourself in the moment and let go of all your doubts. Have some fun and loosen up. What happens when you do something you really love is you don’t worry about not doing it well. You just focus on having a good time.

Once you’ve done this, take this feeling into other areas of your life. Life isn’t about being perfect; it’s about giving the most of yourself to each moment. Remember the good feelings and let them stream throughout your day.

4. Make a List of Everything You’re Good At

I know you’re good at some things. We all are. This is because we all have special talents and unique skillets. Just because you can’t throw a baseball 90mph or solve quantum physics problems doesn’t mean you aren’t gifted. Even if your special talents aren’t readily apparent to the layperson, this doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Your talents are important because they are unique to you. Once you’ve discovered your special talents, it is up to you to do something special and meaningful with them.

So make a great list of everything you are good at. No matter how small your talent or skill may be, write it down. You may surprise yourself just how much you have to offer.

5. Face One of Your Biggest Fears

As I like to say, nervousness is often just your brain’s way of telling you that your fears will feel great to conquer. You are nervous because you care. Since you care, you will feel good to have accomplished the feat. Your fears will go away once you face them.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said you should “do one thing everyday that scares you”. Once you have done this thing, you will have conquered a new fear. You will grow your comfort zone. You will gain confidence in your ability to do this thing. You will grow your confidence in your ability to face your fears. Do this on a regular basis and the things that used to scare you will give you some of your happiest moments. You will be stronger and wiser.

The key is to be consistent. At first, facing your fears will make you very uneasy. You are not used to operating out of your comfort zone, but realize that it will only make you a stronger, more confident person. Day by day, it will get easier. And day by day, you will be able to conquer bigger and bigger fears.

Pretty soon, people will be asking you for advice on building self confidence!

About the Author

Matt Maresca is a motivational entertainer who aims to inspire others to take their lives to the next level of personal happiness through self improvement. This growth often begins with building self confidence. For more, check out Matt’s website at MyLifeMotivation.com.

The Smart Guide to Beating Procrastination

If you find yourself procrastinating, this guide will help you learn why you do it and how to change it. Also, if you have a procrastinator in your life, a child, an employee, a spouse, you can turn to this guide to help you understand why they do it and how you can help. This guide has a host of information on how to overcome procrastination, how to minimize the tendency to procrastinate, the psychological roots of procrastination, and how you can turn procrastination into productivity. Believe it our not, there are times when procrastination is a good thing.

Procrastination is a Complex Phenomenon

There is no silver bullet to the problem. Some of us struggle getting started on things we need to do to improve our careers, our health, our relationships, and our spirit. Some of us start but can’t finish. Why do we procrastinate? There are many reasons and perspectives on that. If you want a comprehensive understanding of procrastination you must tap many resources. There are a lot of smart people who have written about this subject and you’ll find links to many of them here.

This Guide is Structured Into Three Parts:

  1. 24 of the Best Articles on Procrastination
  2. 4 Videos About Procrastination
  3. My Take on Procrastination
  4. 3 Must Read Books About Procrastination

The Best Articles on Procrastination

Structured Procrastination – If you’re a procrastinator, this is by far the best essay I’ve read on harnessing procrastination as a gift. John Perry is a successful academic and chronic procrastinator. He’s learned to turn his procrastination into a productivity hack.

Chronic Time Abuse – This pdf file is from the Harvard Business Review and written by Steven Berglas. It explains why ordinary time-management techniques don’t work for some people, the childhood roots of time abuse, how to understand the four distinct time abusers, and how to make them more productive.

Good and Bad Procrastination – Paul Graham founder of Y-combinator and Hacker News and prolific internet essayist, makes a strong case that impressive people are terrible procrastinators and trying to “beat” procrastination is impossible. Paul describes three types of procrastination and that we should strive to be a Type-C procrastinator. What does that mean? In a nutshell it means, “Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work.”

Later – What does procrastination tell us about ourselves? – This in depth article by James Surowiecki in the New Yorker delves into the philosophical roots of procrastination.

Fight Procrastination! – David Cheong shows us via illustration how to understand Procrastination vs. Pain and Payoff. He shows where we want be and how to get there.

50 Strategies For Making Yourself Work – Jerry Oltion at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America writes about the major paradox of the writing profession – work avoidance. Why as writers do we find ourselves doing ANYTHING but writing? Since no single solution works for everyone, Jerry gives you 50 strategies to try.

An Unexpected Lesson About Procrastination – Penelope Trunk tells us what she learned about procrastination from her experience having a baby with a birth defect and how she discovered procrastination is one of the best tools we have for taking care or ourselves.

Procrastination: Ten Things To Know – This list shows us that bad procrastination can be the result of authoritarian parenting/schooling, the child never discovers self-regulation, and/or uses procrastination as a coping mechanism or a passive-aggressive form of rebellion which then leads to issues like substance abuse.

Procrastination – This is a fascinating post citing multiple scientific studies that show procrastination is not the result of laziness, but instead a result of meta-cognition. To get past your tendency to procrastinate you need to find ways to trick yourself in to thinking differently about thinking.

From Procrastination to Motivation – This is an A to Z reference guide about why we procrastinate and how to beat it. It explains the many reasons why we procrastinate, offers full color illustrations and flow charts, and a guide to motivating yourself past your blocks.

Overcoming Procrastination Instantly Using Self Talk - At litemind we get solid practical advice on how to re-frame the language you use in your thoughts. When you re-frame your thoughts you’ll produce different actions with different results. With a little training anyone can change their thoughts.

7 Common Causes and Proven Cures for Procrastination – Marc and Angel offer a good breakdown of common causes of procrastination and simple methods you can use to overcome the problem.

Letter to a Young Procrastinator - This is a well written letter that Seth Stevenson appears to be writing to his younger self – “Stop resisting and embrace your procrastination.” If you’re going to procrastinate stop agonizing over it and have fun with the time you are wasting.

Procrastination hack: ‘(10+2)*5′ – Merlin Mann has a method that lets you be lazy and still get things done.

Dead Simple Guide to Beating Procrastination – This guide IS dead simple. The first step is perfect.

Overcome Procrastination Once and For All – To overcome your thoughts and fears about procrastination you need to get clear about what you want in life.

Top 10 Motivation Boosters and Procrastination Killers – Lifehacker provides some of the most original content available. This one doesn’t disappoint.

How to Overcome Procrastination in 8 Easy Steps – Does your procrastination come from lack of prioritization. First visualize the end from the beginning, then count the cost, read the rest…

Getting to Now: How to Beat the Procrastination Habit – J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly is a self admitted procrastinator. Here are his methods for beating his bad habits.

Modern Procrastination – Seth Godin makes the case the being busy is a form of procrastination. We stay busy in order to avoid doing the risky things we are meant to do.

How Procrastination Can Make You More Productive - Kelly Watson teaches us to ask ourseves three questions that will help us understand why we are procrastinating and how we can turn procrastination to our advantage.

7 Tips for Avoiding Procrastination – Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project gives us sound advice on how to avoid procrastination altogether.

7 Ways to Move Beyond Procrastination – Henrik Edberg at the Positivity Blog puts together another list of 7. He leads with the advice that procrastination is more painful than work. Yes sometimes it is.

How to Overcome Procrastination – This is a susinct list of things you can do to get moving on any task or project.



Procrastination by John Kelly – This is a creative description of procrastination. Most of us will find our our own methods of procrastination in this video.


Author and Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely on Procrastination


A Humorous Look at Procrastination – “Procrastination” Tales of Mere Existence:


Ellen DeGeneres will make you laugh as she explores her own procrastination:


My Take on Procrastination

As long as I can recall I’ve struggled with procrastination. I am sure I started procrastinating even before I can remember. I rarely if ever turned in assignments in school that I wasn’t interested in. Over 30 years ago I recall a teacher assigning me a report on the composer Rossini. I checked out one book about him in the library, never read it, and never even started the report. I wasn’t interested. Did it hurt me? I doubt it, but I still think about it today and it became a common issue during my schooling. I procrastinated and failed to start/finish many assignments.

I can see the seeds of procrastination in my sons. They naturally avoid doing things that need to be done. They love to start a craft project, or take out the legos, or set up a board game, but they NEVER want to clean up the mess and put things back where they got them. It’s more fun to take out another item and another item and another item. When you ask them to put something away the excuses flow as naturally as water seeks a river, “I am still playing with it, I was putting it away, I’ll do it in a minute, I was playing with both of them.” When you press them, feet stomp, followed by yelling, screaming, and sometimes worse.

This manifestation of procrastination seems to be selfishness/immuturity or an inability to understand how your own inaction affects others. I’m certain it isn’t about perfectionism. They expect someone else to clean up their messes and would rather do something fun.

But as a parent you shouldn’t try to kill this innate tendency to procrastinate, just redirect it a little. Sometimes you shouldn’t do what others tell you. Instead you should do what you love. Why should you do busy work instead of real learning? Why should you accept monotonous boring work instead of creative work? You shouldn’t! To be happy productive people, we need to understand the difference between being responsible and using others to justify yet another form of procrastination – failing to live up to our potential. As a father it is my job to teach that distinction to my sons. The best way (and most difficult) is to live it by example.

Procrastination is good when it keeps you from wasting your time and money. I’ve found, if you put some things off, you’ll find later that they didn’t need to be done. The trick is knowing what those things are, and they are different for all of us.

Procrastination is bad when you fail to take care of yourself, when you fail to grow, when you fail to learn, when you fail to create.

So the key is… overcoming bad procrastination, maximizing good procrastination, and learning to identify the difference.

3 Must Read Books on Procrastination:

I recommend the following books on procrastination. In this section, I won’t review each book. Just click through to Amazon and read the reviews there. All three are dyno-mite!

Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now –

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play -

The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination -

I’ve planned to write this for months now. After reading Procrastination and Perfectionism a week ago, I began to finish this post.

P.S. I have some friends who say they want to write. If any of you are reading this, my advice is… Then write! Start a blog! It’s never been easier to write! Most obstacles are in your mind. Clear your mind and just do it. Stop Procrastinating Now!

A Reminder of Who You Are and How to Live

Just a reminder… In case you’ve forgotten who you are and what life is about…

To live a great life is to live boldly with courage and strength. Do not try to be fearless, just be aware of your fear and act in spite of it. Tell the bullies, worriers, and fear-mongers both inside and outside your head, to go to hell. Submit them with mental Jiu Jitsu. Choke them out of your mind. Remember that life is short, and that you need to live a confident, humor filled life. Not a life of anxiety and worry, but a life of action, fun, freedom, and intelligent creativity.

Don’t mistake any of this for recklessness. Recklessness leads to fear, anxiety, poor health, poor finances, poor relationships, and lost freedom. The bully, the worrier, and the fear-monger are the animals that try to trick you into reckless behaviors. Learn to hear them, identify them, and then crush them before their lies and tricks take root.

Live intelligently. When the bully in your head shows you a scene or hands you a feeling of shame, guilt, worthlessness, or fear. Shout it down. Clog the pit from which it rears its head. It doesn’t matter if the scenes and feelings were real in the past. Your past is gone. It is over. It is unchangeable. The only thing that is changeable is the decision you face right now, in this moment. Are you going to choose to live in fear and guilt and shame and anger or will you choose to live with courage and confidence in everything you do next? Your choice will determine your future. Your choice will determine how you feel, what you do, and the impact you have on others.

Don’t try to live in the past. The past is an imaginary place full of nightmares and fairy tales. Forget the past, and forget the people who remind you of it. Reminiscing is a fools game.

So right now, in this moment, let me tell you who you really are…

You are strong
You are loving
You are creative
You are intelligent
You are confident
You are capable of anything
You have honor
You have credibility
You are healthy
You are honest
You are wealthy (wealth is more than money)
You are fun
People respect you
People follow you
People love you as you are right now
People need you
You are a leader

Now go out and be who you really are!

A Simple Guide to Start Selling Books Online

A post from Christine…

Do you want to sell books online? This post is for you. Selling books online is a great way to earn extra income. If you work hard, you can even make a living. But first you’ll need to learn the tricks of the trade.

Keeping it Simple

This is a long post with a ton of information in it. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible for you. This post is a mixture of my own advice combined with links to other helpful content. We will focus on selling used books.

About Me

I have been selling books for nearly 20 years. I started selling books online while working in my father’s bookstores. I set up an eBay account in 1998 under the name c-olson which my father still uses today. Starting with a few titles from a single store, my online listings were a great success. In 2002, I quit working to become a Stay At Home Mom. In 2003, I started selling books online from home. In 2004 we bought a bigger house to accommodate my growing business and another child. In 2009 I signed a 3 year lease on a 3200 square foot warehouse to run my business. Right now I deal in overstock, remainder, and used books, DVDs, plush toys, and gift items. My goal is to open a discount bookstore, selling new and used books and media related items integrated with online selling. I sell under the name blitz-kitty on ebay and Half.com, Books-MN on Amazon and BooksMN on ABE and Alibris. I also run the websites http://www.BooksMN.com and http://www. ChristinesBooks.net. (I didn’t follow one of my tips below which is to “choose a business name and stick with it!”)

New Warehouse Aug. 2009

Where to Buy Used Books

Friends of the Library Sales – Find FOL Sales near you using BookSaleFinder.com. Also, check your local paper for library sales or call the libraries near you. Most libraries have sales at least twice per year. Contact the libraries to learn the dates and times of the sales. Some FOL’s allow members to attend special early preview sales. It may be worth joining.

Garage Sales – Great place for cheap books. Be sure to ask if they have more books they haven’t put out yet.

Estate Sales – Arrive early, offer to buy all the books for one price.

Church Rummage Sales

Craigslist – Post an ad that you want to buy books. Advertise that you will pick-up books for free.

Thrift Stores – Visit thrift stores regularly, get to know their routines and when they put out new books.

Family, Friends and Neighbors – Let everyone know you want to be a bookseller. People will give you books for free. It’s a great way to try it out. Don’t let anyone talk you into selling books for them and splitting the profit. You won’t make any money and you will do all the work.

Goodwill – Some Goodwill stores “cherry pick” the good ones, some don’t.

Salvation Army

Half Price Books or other Used Bookstores who don’t sell online.

Barnes & Noble – Many times they have half price sales on their remainder books. A great time to pick up some large picture books.

Where to Sell

Here are 5 major sites to consider along with the fees they charge:

Amazon.com – If you plan to sell more than 40 books per month on Amazon, pay to become a ProMerchant Seller. Amazon charges a monthly fee, plus commission, plus per transaction fee.

Half.com – No monthly fee, commission fee at the time of the sale.

Alibris – Monthly fee plus commission. Join when you have a minimum of 500 titles otherwise you might not sell enough to cover fees.

ABE – Monthly fee plus commission. Join when you have a minimum of 800 titles otherwise you won’t see many sales.

eBay – Monthly fee for an eBay store, insertion fee per item plus commission fee and paypal fees. Watch your fees and price items accordingly. Booksellers only need a Basic Store. Selling on eBay has become much more difficult. Be sure to read and understand all the rules before you start selling. Breaking the rules on eBay may get you banned. There’s money to be made on eBay but it doesn’t come as easy as it used to. If you don’t know much about selling on ebay I highly recommend reading Skip McGrath’s 77 Tips & Tools for Selling on The New eBay. You can also subscribe to his free newsletter that contains lots of great information.

Websites for Multi-Channel Selling

If you choose to sell on all of these sites you need to keep track of your inventory. I use www.theartofbooks.com to manage my inventory and sales across multiple venues. TheArtofBooks.com charges only a small commission fee. There is also www.fillz.com. They charge a base fee plus a commission fee. I do not use The Art of Books for my eBay listings. I use www.inkfrog.com for eBay listings and picture hosting.


FBA stands for Fulfillment by Amazon. You send your books to Amazon, they pack and ship them for you. Many people love this set-up. I’ve tried it, with some success but I don’t think it will continue in my business plan. I want to open a bookstore so would prefer to have my inventory with me. Also, at this time, space is not an issue for me. I highly recommend reading about FBA if you are interested: Selling on Amazon’s FBA Program.

Scanning Tools

Many book resellers use scanning tools. If you go to a FOL (Friends of the Library) sale you will see people scanning barcodes on the backs of books with handheld scanners. The tools pull information from Amazon, instantly telling you the current pricing and the Sales Rank (lower seller rank good, higher seller rank not so good.) Some popular scanning tools: ScoutPal and ASellerTool.

Finding the Right Price

Pricing your books is an art form. You want to get the most money you can in the least amount of time. I check Amazon to price all my books.

First I check other seller’s pricing, both New & Used, then I check the sales rank. The sales rank indicates how popular the book is on Amazon.


  • 1 – 10,000 most popular
  • 10,001 – 100,000 very popular
  • 100,001 – 200,000 moderately popular
  • 200,001 – 300,000 well, get the idea

These numbers go up into the millions

The lower the number the faster your book is going to sell if priced accordingly. You never need to be the lowest price to sell a book. Even if you are the lowest price when you list, in a few hours you will be undercut you by a penny by someone using repricing software. Both The Art of Books & Fillz offer repricing software. I don’t use the software. I haven’t taken the time to figure it out. For now, I ignore sellers who continually drop prices and I price my books somewhere 3 – 4 spots above the lowest price at a point where I still make money.

Condition Guidelines

You have be careful when grading your books. Since customers can’t see the book they are buying they rely on you to tell them its condition. Each selling site has their own rules. Be sure to read them. Here’s some guidelines from Amazon:

Amazon’s Guidelines:

New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unread copy in perfect condition.

Like New: An apparently unread copy in perfect condition. Dust cover is intact, with no nicks or tears. Spine has no signs of creasing. Pages are clean and are not marred by notes or folds of any kind. Book may contain a Remainder Mark on an outside edge but this should be noted in listing comments.

Very Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition. Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged.

Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include “From the library of” labels.

Acceptable: A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (the dust cover may be missing). Pages can include considerable notes–pen or highlighter–but the notes cannot obscure the text.


Why is feedback important to you as a bookseller? Buyers make decisions based on two things, price and feedback. Most selling sites allow customers to leave feedback about their experience buying from you. If your feedback levels fall too low you may get kicked off a site. eBay is particularly difficult with feedback. If you have slightly less than perfect feedback you will lose monetary discounts and possibly be banned. Be proactive with customer questions and concerns. Make your e-mail address readily available on your packing slips which should be included in all your orders.

Dealing with Customers

Although you are not selling face-to-face you still need customer service. They have questions, they have problems and they want to be reassured. Always deal with customers in a friendly matter. Even if they are wrong and you are right, sympathize and find a solution. Some customers are impossible to please, but honestly, I rarely get them. Book buyers tend to be an honest bunch.

Your Own Website

The most popular bookseller ecommerce hosting site is www.chrislands.com. My chrislands site is www.christinesbooks.net. It’s…. okay. Not perfect, we have very little control of design with chrislands, but the price is right and they have good Google Feeds. I also have another site using www.PrestoStore.com under www.BooksMN.com. Both of these sites can be supported by The Art of Books or Fillz so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of your inventory and orders. Watch out when choosing an ecommerce host, make sure there isn’t a limit on the number of items you can list. As a bookseller, you will end up with 1,000’s of SKUs, you can’t afford a hosting company that charges based on the number of SKUs you have.

You need to take credit cards and paypal on your website. For credit cards, I use www.propay.com. They integrated easily with my websites and have low fees for small sellers. Google Checkout is another good option to have on your website.

Where to Buy Shipping Supplies

When I first started buying shipping supplies I looked for sales or coupons from Office Max. Then I started ordering them from sellers on eBay. Now I order all my shipping supplies from www.Uline.com. I find they have the best prices if you order in bulk. Uline also has excellent customer service. If you order more than $300 worth of supplies at any one time you can ask for Free Shipping with next day delivery! Uline also offers fun freebies if you order $150.00 or more in supplies.


How you choose to ship your books is a very important part of your business. Your shipping choices will affect your customer’s experience and your feedback. Most booksellers ship their books in bubble mailers to save on shipping costs and supplies. I ship most of my books in boxes or cardboard fold-overs (s-165 on uline.com). I only ship small paperbacks and DVDs in bubble mailers. This is a personal choice. When I sell books in “New” condition and I want the books to arrive in “New” condition. Books get damaged in bubble mailers unless you wrap them in several layers of bubble wrap.

Most selling venues will reimburse you $3.99 for shipping and handling costs. For books that weigh under 4 lbs. this is enough to cover your costs. If your book weighs over 4 lbs. you will need to raise the price of your book to reflect the extra postage costs.

Shipping International: I have had very few problems with international shipments. If you decide to ship international, be aware of the costs and have a shipping scale handy, you can buying a shipping scale on ebay from this guy: GreatScales. Amazon only gives you one low price for covering postage on international orders. This price may not cover your costs. Amazon allows you to opt out of international shipping on a book to book basis, if your book does not fit into a Flat Rate Envelope, do not select the International Shipping option on Amazon. I keep a chart handy telling me how much it is going to cost me to ship to Canada and the rest of the world so I can input prices on ebay when listing. You can calculate prices on the usps.com website.

Media Mail is the most popular choice for books that weigh over 8 oz. Under 8 oz, it is cheaper to ship First Class Mail. Media Mail takes 4 – 14 days to arrive. Since Media Mail is so slow, I always ship within 2 days of receiving an order to minimize the customer wait.

Use professional packing materials. Do not use old cereal boxes or empty tissue boxes to ship items. Important: Do not wrap books in newspaper, the ink will rub off and damage the book.

The US Post Office

Important – Make friends with your local post office crew. You’ll see them everyday and you’ll need their help. They can make your life miserable, so don’t argue or pick fights with the folks at the Post Office. You can’t afford to be enemies with them.

Things your friendly post office crew can help you with:

  • Tubs to help you carry your books
  • Hampers for when you have extra large loads
  • Extra Supplies of Priority boxes, Flat Rate envelopes, Customs Forms and more
  • You can order Free Priority Mail Supplies on the usps.com website

Printing Postage Online

Printing postage online saves you time. Once you start selling several books per day, you’ll to want to start printing postage online. When you print your postage online, you won’t have to wait in line at the post office. You’ll drop your stuff, say hi, and then leave. You will also get a discount on Priority Mail and a discount on delivery confirmation.

I recommend www.endicia.com. It has a small monthly fee. Most other services (usps.com, paypal, amazon) charge extra for printing Media Mail postage.

You also need a Zebra Thermal Printer that uses 4” x 6” labels. Buy a used one on eBay from HippoVariety. I bought a refurbished one from them over 5 years ago and it’s still running strong. I buy my labels from Trek.CompuLabel.com. Buying topcoated labels is important because the post office sometimes will put a zip code sticker right over the address. If the label isn’t topcoated that sticker won’t come off and your package will be returned to you.

Shipping Station

A good shipping station consists of the following:

  • Multiple Box Sizes
  • Multiple bubble mailer sizes
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Packing Tape with dispenser
  • Scale
  • Box Cutter
  • Scrap Cardboard
  • Void Fill (blank newsprint, peanuts, foam, etc.)
  • Scotch Tape with dispenser

Your shipping station should be comfortable, easy to access, and not cramped. Try to make your shipping process as smooth as possible to avoid repetitive stress injuries and shipping mix-ups.

Important Tips for Serious Businesses

If you plan to turn bookselling into a business, here are some must follow tips:

  • If you sell on eBay, you need a paypal account or you will get no sales
  • Choose a business name to use across all sites, including your own website. Check GoDaddy to see if the website name is available.
  • Buy your domain on GoDaddy.com
  • Open a business account at your local bank.
  • Have a business credit card that pays cash back
  • Register your business with your state.
  • Register your business with the Feds and get an EIN (Employer Identification Number)

Blogs to Read

Book Think
Weber Books – Selling Books
Sell Your Books Online

Books to Read

Selling Used Books Online (A little dated but some good info)
The Home Based Bookstore
Book Finds, 3rd Edition: How to Find, Buy and Sell Used and Rare Books
Online Bookselling: A Practical Guide with Detailed Explanations
How to Sell Books on Amazon The Stay at Home Mom’s Secret Guide
Selling Online: How to Start a Home-Based Business Selling Used Books, DVDs, and More
Tax Loopholes for eBay Sellers (great advise for all small businesses!)
The eBay Sellers Tax & Legal Guide

e-Books to Consider

Selling on Amazon’s FBA Program
Skip McGrath Sell Used Books on eBay, Amazon and the Internet

Free Newsletters to Subscribe to

Skip McGrath

In Closing

Slinging books is not a glamorous job. You get dirty, your nails get broken, you throw out your back once in awhile, your eyes dry out from using the computer too much, and your hands crack because the books have sucked all the moisture out of them. Booksellers and book buyers are an odd bunch. You will realize this by going to your first few library sales. When books sell for .50 cents a pop it brings out some strange creatures. If this all sounds fun to you (I think it is!) your best approach is to dive right in. Start researching some of your own books and see what you can sell them for. The great thing about bookselling is you don’t need to spend much to get started, but there is a learning curve bringing it to the next level . You can figure it out by trial and error and by reading about selling books online.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Anger, Passion, and Pragmatism

Anger is a negative emotion with a positive side. It makes you vulnerable, but it reveals passion. It can result from a deep sense of justice and honesty. The best way to reduce anger is to become pragmatic and practical. But pragmatism kills passion. I wonder where we’d be today if Churchill had been a pragmatist instead of a stubborn visionary.

I’ve never had a lot of time for pragmatism.

To me, Pragmatism means – doing what works instead of doing the right thing. The problem with a pragmatic approach to life… is…


If you fail, so what? Get up, modify your plan, and try again.

In general, the only reason something is impossible is because someone has decided it is impossible.

Pragmatism is a common tactic to dismiss dreams, to stifle innovation, and to crush creativity.

“But we can’t do that! It isn’t practical!”


How to Live Longer and Healthier

So you want to live longer? Healthier? Happier? The first thing you should do is…

Get off your butt! Stand up! Quit sitting so much! There, I said it. It sounds too simple doesn’t it? But it’s a fact – Sitting for long periods is killing you regardless of your exercise regimen.

According to this study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology:

  • Regardless of physical activity – Women who sat more than 6 hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Regardless of physical activity – Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day.
  • Combined with lack of physical activity – Women who sat more than 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Combined with lack of physical activity – Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 48% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.

My Personal Story

I’m open to trying new ideas to see if they can improve my well being and my productivity, so a few months ago I put together a sit/stand workstation in my office. Today I spend 80% of my work day standing.

Here’s what happened:

  • I’ve dropped 3 pounds without changing anything in my lifestyle
  • I sleep better at night
  • I have more energy during the day
  • For over six years I’ve had joint pain in my knees and my hips. It’s gone.
  • For years, I’ve had dull pains in my abdomen, just under my ribs. It’s gone.
  • I’m more productive while standing
  • I feel I’m more creative while standing
  • I can’t imagine ever going back to sitting at a computer all day

The Information Age Changed Everything

Years ago sitting wasn’t as common as it is today. When we were an agrarian society, we had to get up early and work on the farm or we’d starve. During the industrial revolution we stood on our feet working the factory floor, but in the information age, many of us spend 8-10 hours a day on our butt in front of a computer, spend 45 minutes in the gym, and then spend the rest of the evening sitting in front of the TV, or a video game, or a computer again. We have to make a living writing, or programming, or building websites, or helping others on the internet. So how can we change?

  • We have to stand up at our computers!
  • We have to stand up when we game!
  • We have to stand up when we write!
  • We have to stand up when we program!

Burn Double the Calories

According to Marc Hamilton (associate professor of biomedical sciences at University of Missouri-Columbia) simply standing up will burn double the calories while talking on the phone or watching a sporting event. I assume the same is true of using a computer.

Fend Off Disease

A growing body of evidence shows that sitting for long periods increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. See this article about the link between sitting and diabetes and cancer, and this article about the link between sitting and heart disease.

Stand Up and Build your Health Consciousness

35 years ago, science began delivering data that smoking was killing us. Since then the smoking rate has dropped from 60% to 20%. Similar health benefits can be gained by creating a sit/stand culture in your company, at home, at school, and anywhere else we spend too much time sitting. This doesn’t need 35 years to take hold. Changing the way we work is easy and relatively inexpensive (ask me how). With most lifestyle related changes, you have the power. You get to decide what you eat. You get to decide not to smoke. You get to decide to exercise. Now you need to decide to stand up while you work! If you own a business, create sit/stand workspaces at your company. If you don’t own a business, change your workspace. If your employer doesn’t understand, send them the facts about what sitting is doing to your health.

Join the Sit/Stand Uprising at:


If you’re interested in learning how you can stand more, send me a note via my contact page and I’ll see how I can help you.