Disclaimer: My expenses are just that, MY expenses. You may or may not incur such expenses if you are beginning or your expenses may be even greater if you're an expert at this by now. Either way, I hope that you will grab some ideas or "Ah Ha!" moments while reading this material.
I will break these expenses down into 3 different categories: monthly recurring expenses, recurring as needed expenses and one time expenses with mandatory and optional expenses in each. In each of these categories I will explain each expense I have, how much I'm spending and other expenses that you may see when running a successful online book selling business.
Monthly Recurring Expenses
Internet Connection - An Internet connection will be the crux of your business. This is what the online part is all about! A high speed connection is crucial for your business and your sanity because you will spend a significant. Call your local phone carrier or your cable TV provider to get a DSL or cable modem connection RIGHT NOW if you haven't already. If you're not in an area that can get a high speed connection, I don't think this business is for you. That is how important this is. I pay $40/month for my cable modem connection not only for my business but also for personal use as well.
Utilities - Utilities are also an obvious mandatory expense because you need to put your books in a climate controlled area. Typically, this area is a home you're already living in but for some, like me, it is a small warehouse. I pay a portion of the utilities to my sister that lives in the home connected to this small warehouse. My electrical cost is about $50/month when split with my sister, but your will obviously be different than mine.
Venue Listing Fees - When you just have a few books to sell, most sites will let you list your books for free with no listing fees or monthly fees. However, once you start getting an inventory in the thousands, sites such as Amazon, Alibris and Abebooks will want some monthly fee. The fee for Amazon is the Pro Merchant fee which is $40/month. This fee gives you a ton of great benefits. You can read all about them on Amazon's merchant help page. Alibris has it's Gold program for volume sellers which is a monthly fee I pay and Abebooks has $25/month fee to list books on their site which I also pay. Other sites vary on the monthly fees they charge.
Multi-Venue Listing/Order Service - I subscribe to a service called Fillz. This costs me $50/month + 1.4% of sales but is invaluable to me. This site allows me to upload my inventory to one site and have it dispersed on 10 different sites. It keeps all my inventory in sync as well as downloading all my orders in one place. If you want to become a volume seller, a service like this is crucial. Another service that is similar to this is The Art of Books.
Book Scouting Services - If you're going to be looking for great inventory at cheap prices, you will need to subscribe to a book scouting service. I subscribe to Scoutpal for my offline PDA book scout software as well as my online book scouting. Other services such as this include Neatoscan and Media Scouter.
Online Postage Vendor - This is another life saver for me and for any volume seller. This prevents you from having to wait in line at the post office and it will also save you some money! Printing postage online is extremely important to me as a volume seller! This service costs me $16/month. I use Endicia which I HIGHLY recommend. This service is bar none the best around and is pretty much the industry standard.
Recurring as Needed Expenses
Shipping/Packing Supplies - This is an unfortunate expense of shipping books. You have to have something to ship them in and buy the supplies that go along with it. I buy bubble mailers for all of my books except for the more expensive ones that require a box. Mailers are the cheapest way to go yet still provide adequate protection for your books. Included in this section is also packing tape. You always want to take one strip of packing tape on top of the bubble mailers sticky surface just for good measure. Packing tape will also be required if you choose to print postage online and don't have a label printer. You will then have to print out your packing slips and labels on plain copy paper, which is also a necessary expense. I used to get my shipping supplies at Uline but I started using Royal Mailers a few months ago and haven't looked back. You can get to them by clicking on the banner on the left hand side of the screen. They offer cheap pricing, free shipping and have just about anything you'd ever want in terms of shipping and packing supplies. Unfortunately, I don't know my expenses in this category off the top of my head but I would estimate $300/month.
Book Inventory - IMPORTANT! If you don't continually refresh your inventory your business will fail! Spend wisely in this category. You can get inventory online, thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, auctions and a slew of other places. Be frugal yet try to find out what you can get from the book you buy by using book scouting tools.
Postage - Postage is another necessary evil. You will pay for postage on everything you send out. You can save on postage by buying postage through Endicia, but it's still going to be one of the biggest expenses you will see as an online book seller.
Labels - If you choose to save some time and buy a Zebra label printer you will have to buy labels for it. The label printer will save you tons of time. I just about 8,000 labels for $135 at Royal Mailers. Not too bad at all for saving me tons of time and headache!
One Time Expenses