Book description seems straightforward enough. However, there are challenges, and then there are the descriptions themselves. Read on to find out how to handle the challenging areas and the actual descriptions.
A) Some exceptions from the usual standards
If the book is out of print and very hard to find, you can sell it even if it has a splotch here and there and writing all over it. But make sure you carefully describe its exact condition. And no, broken spines won't do no matter how rare the book may be.
Read Amazon's criteria very carefully and follow them to a T. And as I said, err on the side of caution. I won't retype the descriptions here because they may change, and if you follow the information on their website, you'll be okay.
Under NO circumstances should you try to sell a book that's falling apart or that's quite soiled or moldy. Even if you describe it as such, the recipient will probably think it can't be that bad if it's sold on Amazon and will feel disappointed once they see it.
Just give it away. There's no point in risking your good rating over a few bucks, which you may have to refund anyway.
Writing accurate comments about the book's condition
Always add comments about the condition.
If the book is new, say so: "Shiny new book, straight from bookstore"
Be descriptive and clear. If the book has ANY blemishes whatsoever, list them. Watch for rubbing, which is what makes a shiny cover look a bit, uhm, worn. It happens from books being filed very close to each other and then rubbing against each other when they're moved. Sometimes, they acquire rub marks during shipping. Basically, it means that the finish has rubbed off, a bit, or a whole lot.
Check for remainder marks. Those are the big (or small) black splotches on books you get from the bargain bin. Usually, they're on the bottom of the book. Always mention them if there are any, and even describe them if they deviate from a normal smallish remainder mark.
If it's a big remainder mark, say, "big ugly splotch" or whatever, and if it's particularly small and unobtrusive, you can say it's just a "small dot."
Check for any writing in the book and if there is any, mention it. Also mention if the writing is in pencil or pen. Ditto for dog ears, stains, and anything else that makes the book deviate from the shiny new appearance the shopper is hoping for.
If a book is so crisp and new that it clearly has hardly been opened if at all, mention that too. In fact, mention anything that is in the book's favor.
And if you'd rather get a better return on your books and media items, you're invited to download Elisabeth Kuhn's FREE Guide to selling them online: eBay vs Amazon and discover what's better for which types of items.
Also consider Elisabeth's insider guide for Newcomers to Amazon.com Marketplace Selling and cut down on your learning curve dramatically as you turn your no longer needed books, CDs, DVDs and other things into money for your vacation -- or an entire new business.