Okay, folks, I gotta tell you a secret: books rock! Reading books is super fun and selling books is even better. They may seem “old school” and they aren’t as sexy as the newest iphone or Star Wars, but you will be hard pressed to find a category with as simple of a learning curve or as high of a return as books.
I have sold used books casually for years, and back in July I decided to ramp it up and see what I could do with this category. Here are my results:
July: 18 units $424 and $23.55 average price
Aug: 54 units $1081 and $20.02 average price
Sep: 117 units, $1827 and $15.62 average price
Not bad for my first three months. And, folks, these things are FUN to source. They are simple to find (think everywhere), cheap (sometimes even free), and easy to decide whether to purchase them or not.
Okay, now down to the nuts and bolts of the business.
What types of books do we look for? Not the kinds most people read. As a matter of fact, I never look at fiction and the more popular a book is, the less I look at it. In general, the hugely popular books have a lot of supply and therefore the demand is lower.
The best categories are reference (textbooks are my favorite!), craft or how-to books (the more unusual the better), business books, biographies (again, the more obscure the better), history, science, math, and technology.
Where do we find these books? Craigslist (check ads and run ads), thrift stores, estate sales and library sales. The library sales are my favorite. Check with your local library, most libraries have annual or monthly sales to get rid of all their extra books plus the books that have been donated to them. There is a free site, booksalefinder, that lists a lot of library sales. Some of these are huge. If you live in a large city plan on getting to the sale before it starts as there will most likely be other book scouters in attendance. There is another site that tells you about smaller, less well known sales, called booksalesfound, that I pay for, $27 a month, but I figure that if I only find one valuable book a month from it, it pays for itself (and I have found hundreds through the sales on this site.)
How do we decide which books to buy? This is a tricky question, at first especially, but we are getting better at choosing. Sales rank in books is important, but books are a big seller on Amazon so it is possible to go quite high with your rank. We have decided, for now, to source ranks up to 5 million and we look to buy books that will sell for at least $10.95 on FBA. We do not consider MF to be our competition, only FBA.
Currently we source with a Blue Tooth scanner and a scouting application, FBAScan, from ASellerTool. We like it because it lets us set parameters so our phone only chimes when a book has possibilities (we don’t have to look at each individual book as we scan.) There is a lot of different scouting applications out there and I can’t speak too much on any of the others. I like the fact that FBAScan from ASellerTool has a database downloaded right into my phone so I can source even without data service. Plus, I believe it is quicker. If our software cannot find a book we use the free service from Amazon called Flow. It is pretty slick, it basically scans the front of the book and finds it (usually) in the AZ database.
If you are not ready to fork out the money for a Blue Tooth, many people use attachments on their phones that scan pretty quickly. You can also start out by just scanning with Flow and not invest any money. It will be slower, but if you have more time than money and want to get started, it is a good option.
There are a couple of good book selling books out there written by two people I have met in person. Jeff Clark, a super nice fellow just up the road from me, has written a book (we call it the “book book”) that is available for just $17. He knows all there is to know about sourcing these great sellers.
Again—Books Rock! They are so easy and so fun to source and take a very small investment to get started with. Go see what you can find!