Barnes & Noble.com
Dawn Reno, Author and Associate Professor
Find out everything you need to know about auctioning on eBay and all the other online auctions on the Web.
You don't have to be part of the auction world to be aware of eBay. You don't even have to be online. The first and largest of the online auction sites has been in the news from the very first moment it burst on the scene and continues to reign as King/Queen of the auction world, breaking all kinds of records and garnering the interest of millions worldwide.
Celebrities have gotten into the business in a big way. Rosie O'Donnell runs regular auctions on eBay. Oprah has been conducting charity auctions through her Angels Network. Kevin Spacey, Kathy Ireland, Jonathan Winters, and many other celebrities have hosted or offered items for auctions. Sports stars sponsor special auctions to raise money for children's charities or offer signed gloves, bats, photos and such to the highest bidder. Is it good public relations for these people? Yes, but they have also been known to get in on the "action" themselves.
Olympic skater Scott Hamilton loves collecting pinball machines and has bought some on eBay. Rosie O'Donnell has been known to buy McDonald's figures and collectible toys. Michael J. Foxx loves sports cards.
Why are auctions so fascinating to both the celebrity and the average person on the street? Perhaps it's the idea that one might find a treasure or get a bargain. Maybe it's the excitement of not knowing whether you're going to win that painting or comic book or computer, or whether someone else is going to come along at the last moment to raise the bid and steal what you've been lusting for. Perhaps it's that competitive edge that most humans harbor deep within. Whatever the case, online auctions are big business, and if you've bought this book, you want to know how to make that business work for you.
Are there tricks to becoming a successful online auction bidder/seller? Yes, there are. But you can also pop in to an auction and buy one item and never go back again. Auctioneering is as simple or as difficult as you want to make it--yet it's always fun!
This book will teach you how to be a lurker, learning on the sidelines while not spending any money (Chapter 3). It'll also give you the lowdown on where to find information you might need to know about the auctions you're interested in participating in.
Auctions have been around for many thousands of years. The early Greeks coined the term "bid" in about 550 B.C., and Romans auctioned off the loot won on the battlefield even before the cries of the wounded and dying stopped. Early settlers often gathered to auction off crops and used the auction as a social get-together. When the United States was young, piles of tobacco went to the highest bidder. Acres of land sold to people who wanted a new place to live. Crops of potatoes, corn, cotton, wheat, and barley brought enough money for a family to live on for the rest of the year. The practice of auctioning off livestock, horses, and farm goods continues to this day, though the venues have changed and today's auctioneers no longer rely on the ability to yell louder than the crowd gathered around them.
Auctions were held on the docks of major seaports when slave ships came in, and the social aspect took on a dark undertone when people began buying other people. The dramatic shouts of the auctioneer's call for a raised bid and the moment when the gavel was brought down and those famous words "going, going, gone" became heart-pounding and fearful seconds for those who often didn't understand the language enough to realize they would be soon separated from their families and friends.
Today, auctions are the forum where antiques dealers and collectors can find items to satisfy their business needs or collecting habits. Farmers still sell their prize hogs or crops, and people still gather to share news and spend time with their friends. Thankfully, slave trade is no longer a reason for planning an auction.
But there are changes to the old auction format. Millions of people are participating in online auctions since the folks at eBay Auction Web opened their site in September of 1995. Since then, millions of people have joined the thrill of selling both the common and unusual through over four hundred online auction sites. Though the terminology is the same as it was when those first two phrases (bid and auction) were created and the excitement still makes the heart pound, the auction scene has changed dramatically. But the reason most people choose to auction is basically the same: auctions are the way to get the best price for items you have to sell.