Table of contents:

What is a completion rate?

How do I prevent orders for books I’ve already sold?

How do I manage my inventory/data to minimize loss of sales?

How do I prevent returns for the reason “Item not as described”?

How do I ensure I receive enough funds to ship my orders?

How can I prevent Order Expiry?

More information for HomeBase Users.

What is a completion rate?

Completion measures the number of orders you complete versus the number of orders you receive. It can be calculated as:

(Shipped orders – Returns and Refunds) / Total orders

For example:

  - 100 orders received in 1 month.
  - 2 rejected as "Item previously sold."
  - 2 returns for "Item did not arrive."

Completion = 100 orders received – 2 orders rejected = 98 shipped orders – 2 refunds = 96 / 100 = 96%

AbeBooks currently requires a minimum completion rate of 80%. Failure to meet this requirement can result in suspension or closure of your AbeBooks account.

Why is it important to maintain a high completion rate?

  • A high completion rate means that buyers can feel assured that they will receive the book they ordered, on time and as described, ensuring buyer satisfaction and instilling buyer confidence. This translates into higher sales, repeat business, and increased revenue for you, the bookseller.

How can I find my current completion rate?

  1. Sign on to your AbeBooks account with your E-Mail Address and Password.
  2. Click [Your Sales].
  3. Click [View Your Completion Rate].

How do I compare to other booksellers?

The AbeBooks average completion rate is currently 91%. While this may vary slightly from month to month, this figure is a good benchmark for comparison.

How do I prevent orders for books I’ve already sold?

There are several reasons that a book can end up online even though it has already been sold. The most common reasons are:

  • If sold online, but not marked as Sold in your inventory management software, the books can be accidentally uploaded For Sale again in future.
  • You’ve sold a book outside of AbeBooks, but have not yet uploaded your changes to us.
  • Over time it is possible that one or two uploaded files have had transmission errors. If the complete contents of your upload file are not processed, we may have missed Sold records from you, meaning that these books are still appearing online.

Keep track of your Sold records:
There are several ways for you to maintain your sold books.The two most common are to use a status field, or to send us Delete.txt files. (If you are a HomeBase user, see side bar to the right.)

  • Status: Include a field in your database indicating “Sold” or “For Sale.”  Every time you upload we will add or update any books marked as “For Sale,” and delete any books marked as “Sold.”
  • Delete.txt: Send us a file of all of your sold books, and name the file delete.txt. We will delete these records rather than adding or updating them based on this filename.
  • Online Removal: Remember, if you remove a book from our website using the List and Maintain link, or if the book is removed automatically when it is ordered, please update the status to "Sold" in your own database. If the book is not marked as sold in your inventory management system, it will appear for sale again on our Web site.

Upload often:
If you sell on other platforms or in a storefront, it is essential to keep your online data up-to-date. Please upload each day that your inventory changes; this will keep us informed of your sales, price updates, and description updates, ensuring that buyers see your current stock.

Purge and Reload schedule:
If you find that you have books online which should not be, please Purge and Reload. A Purge and Reload will remove all the books you have online and replace them with the inventory that you upload, removing any inconsistencies between our database and yours. You should purge and reload every two or three months; this is a proactive way to promote data synchronization. The process is seamless, and you will not be without books online for any period of time. For more information, click here. (If you are a HomeBase user, see side bar to the right)

How do I manage my inventory/data to minimize loss of sales?

Consider removing stale records:

Unavailability can occur not only because you’ve sold the book elsewhere, but also simply because the book has been misplaced. This is most common with your oldest book records. You may consider removing your oldest book records (often books with the lowest bookIDs). Before making any bulk deletions, we would ask that you speak with our Customer Support Team to ensure that all of the data is managed properly, to prevent exacerbating the issue.

Keep your Internet stock separate from your Brick and Mortar stock:

If you have a large number of un-catalogued records, you might consider splitting this stock between your internet business and your storefront. There are several benefits to this. Since you can upload stock online after your B&M shelf space is full, more of your stock will be exposed to the buying public. As well, you never have to worry about rejecting orders due to a book being sold in-store, or being misplaced by a buyer or staff.

Integrate your Point-of-Sale system with your online inventory database:

If your business has a high daily turnover in-store, it is very beneficial to integrate your Point-of-Sale system with your database of internet stock. However, this is a less accurate option than having separate internet stock, as explained above. If you have not already integrated your POS system and your internet database, please consider this as an option. Doing so can help prevent lost sales, and  can also save you time, since you’ll only have to update your inventory in one place.

The intricacies of integrating a POS system with an internet database are beyond the scope of this email. If you have programmers on staff, AbeBooks does have tools to help you integrate your system with ours. Please click here for more details.

Try using HomeBase:

HomeBase is our free inventory management program and makes the job of managing your online inventory faster and easier. HomeBase allows you to manage several types of information: books, catalogues, clients, and client wants. The software also allows you to create several kinds of reports. HomeBase 2.3 has enhanced data-entry and integrated invoicing, and we've simplified the process of sending books and/or wants to AbeBooks.

The following information can be stored for each book: book reference #, author, title, illustrator, publisher, place, year, ISBN, keywords, edition, book condition, jacket condition, binding, size, book type, signed, location (of the book), purchase cost, retail price, description, private notes, multiple catalogues and status.

You can download our free software from our Web site: can manage your inventory, order processing and pricing:
FillZ is the premier online marketplace inventory and order management system that helps you increase your online sales by diversifying your online presence, and simultaneously helps you improve your completion rate.  FillZ specializes in assisting booksellers load inventory once, re-price inventory, and process orders simultaneously on up to 18 different marketplaces including,, (.de, .ca, .fr), eBay, Half, Barnes & Noble, and Alibris.  Best of all it's very affordable (0.7% to 1.4% of revenue), with no start-up costs.

How do I prevent returns for the reason “Item not as described”?

Ensure you send accurate ISBN data:

Abebooks Inc. attempts to bibliographic data and ISBNs to your books based on ISBN and/or other bibliographic data present. The goal is to present a complete set of book information to buyer to help drive sales through our marketplace. To aid in this process it is best to use a specific field to upload your ISBN data. HomeBase has a built-in ISBN field, but if you use a spreadsheet you can simply add a new column to the end of your spreadsheet, and upload ISBN data in this field. Be sure to inform Customer Support before you alter your upload format in any way. If you cannot upload using an ISBN field, please put the ISBN in your books’ description fields with an “ISBN:” prefix. For example: ISBN: 043935806X

ISBN matching can also be turned off in your account. For further details click here…

Do not re-use BookIDs:
Re-using a book identifier is never a good database practice. Once a book has been sold, please permanently archive that bookID, and use it again only if that book is returned and you are re-listing it. If you use HomeBase, you can clone your book records if you have more than one copy of a book. For more information on cloning your HomeBase book records, click here.

Ensure we are properly processing your book attributes:
Attributes are specific, searchable details about a book. The best practice is to have a separate field for each attribute type, (e.g., Binding, Edition, Signed, Jacket, and Condition). Be sure to inform Customer Support before you alter your upload format in any way. If you cannot use  specific fields for this information please add the following to your Description field:

  • Hardcover or Softcover
  • First Edition - will index a book as a first.
  • Signed by Author or Signed by Illustrator
  • Inscribed by owner - should be used for inscriptions that do not increase value
  • Dust Jacket or No Dust Jacket
  • Poor, Good, Very Good, Fine, As New and New - use these terms to describe the condition of the book and the dust jacket in the format Book/Jacket (for example: good/very good)

How do I ensure I receive enough funds to ship my orders?

Update your Shipping Matrix for International shipping costs:
Every bookseller on AbeBooks has the ability to set their own shipping rates and speeds. You can alter current rates and add specific rates and speeds for any country not already listed in your account. To view your Shipping Matrix, click here.

Use our extra charges feature:
If you require additional funds to ship an oversized or heavy book, or to cover the cost of tracking or insurance, you can click the [Extra Charges] option while processing your order. For more information, click here.

Increase the price of heavy and multi-volume items:
You may want to increase the selling price for your heavier books or multi-volume sets to proactively cover any extra shipping costs that will be incurred.

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How can I prevent Order Expiry?

Process all orders before the weekend:
You have 4 days (96 hours) to process an order. This is calendar days, not business days. If you do not attend to your online book business on the weekends, please process all outstanding orders on Friday, to ensure that none of these orders expire before the beginning of next week.

Use the Vacation Feature:
When you are unable to process orders within 4 day, they will expire. Using the vacation feature prevents this from happening. Whenever you are going to be away from your shop, or are unable to process orders within 4 days, please set your account to Vacation status. For further information, click here.

HomeBase Users:

Purging and Reloading:

  1. Click the [Send to AbeBooks] button.
    Click [File | Import/Export] and click [Export/Send to AbeBooks].
  2. In the Send Data to AbeBooks dialog box, select [Upload Books].
  3. Clear the [Changes since last load date] option.
  4. Select the [Purge] option.
  5. Select the [All Books] option.
  6. Click the [Send] button.
  7. Click the [Save] button. A summary of the number of books sent to AbeBooks is displayed.
  8. Click [OK]. The data is exported to a saved file.
  9. Click [OK] in the Export summary box.
  10. Click the [Connect] button. A message is displayed stating that "Connection to successful."
  11. Click the [Send File] button.
  12. Click the [Exit] button when the message "Transfer complete, closing connection" is displayed.

Marking Books as Sold:
Please mark books as Sold in HomeBase whenever they are sold or lost. This will prevent the books from remaining online or being re-added as for sale. To mark a book as sold, simply find the book in HomeBase, right click on it, and click [Mark selected books as sold].

Backup instructions:

  1. Click [Backup] in the File menu. The Backup HomeBase Data to dialog box is displayed.
  2. HomeBase 2.3 automatically generates a backup name and places the file in the backup folder of HomeBase 2.3. If you wish, you can select a different file name or file location. Click the [Save] button.
  3. A progress screen displays the state of the backup. When the backup is complete, the Backup Data dialog box is displayed. Click the [OK] button.

Other best practices:

Try our Batch Order Processing system (BOP):
If you are a high-volume seller, our BOP service can help you save time with order-processing. For more information please contact Customer Support.

Back up often, back up properly:
If you have a computer failure and your backups are out of date, you may spend months going through your paper records re-marking books as sold in your database. Be sure to have backups on removable media, such as a CD or USB Flash Drive, in case of a hard drive crash. Speak to your technician for advice on your backup schedule. (If you are a HomeBase user, please click here.)