New(ish) FBA Seller sells over 1100 books in one month!

Jessica listed all these books one weekend!

Jessica listed all these books one weekend!

 

YEAH!  We had a FANTASTIC month selling used books on Amazon FBA!

We have been building our book inventory on Amazon for a little over a year and learning as it grew.  Books brought in some money from the beginning, but using the model  we are using, we knew we wouldn’t really start to bring in book money until our inventory grew.  We hired a few “book scouts” to go out and bring us books and tried to make it to as many sales and shops as we could in our town.

We had some early success and spent some time mastering our processes, but life happened and books seriously took the back burner while we dealt with many other issues, professional and personal.

Then August came along—our book numbers jumped, our profits soared and all of a sudden books became very interesting!

DATE Ordered $ Sold Avg. Price
July, 2015 18 $424.00 $23.55
Aug, 2015 54 $1,081.00 $20.02
Sep, 2015 117 $1,827.00 $15.62
Oct, 2015 128 $1,974.17 $15.42
Nov, 2015 253 $3,849.00 $15.21
Dec, 2015 284 $4,234.00 $14.91
Jan, 2016 389 $6,215.00 $15.98
Feb, 2016 404 $6,142.00 $15.20
Mar, 2016 378 $5,550.00 $14.68
Apr, 2016 196 $2,809.00 $14.33
May, 2016 287 $4,134.00 $14.41
June, 2016 313 $4,821.00 $15.40
July, 2016 333 $5,703.00 $17.13
Aug, 2016 1106 $16,220.00 $14.67

 

Why though?  Books had been relatively flat in sales and income for seven months.

We guessed at first that part of the reason was the season—books sell best August through January.  That could account for some of the jump.  Then we guessed we sent in a much higher number of books in June and July and our inventory was higher.  So, we went looking for data.

What we found out at first was that yes, August is one of the top months of the year (if not the top) for selling used books.  This didn’t quite explain the huge jump though.  And when we pulled up my inventory numbers from the past year there wasn’t the large jump in book inventory we expected.

DATE Ordered $ Sold Avg. Price   Inventory Turn
July, 2015 18 $424.00 $23.55 46 39.13%
Aug, 2015 54 $1,081.00 $20.02 178 30.34%
Sep, 2015 117 $1,827.00 $15.62 297 39.39%
Oct, 2015 128 $1,974.17 $15.42 666 19.22%
Nov, 2015 253 $3,849.00 $15.21 1345 18.81%
Dec, 2015 284 $4,234.00 $14.91 1708 16.63%
Jan, 2016 389 $6,215.00 $15.98 1665 23.36%
Feb, 2016 404 $6,142.00 $15.20 2726 14.82%
Mar, 2016 378 $5,550.00 $14.68 3849 9.82%
Apr, 2016 196 $2,809.00 $14.33 3844 5.10%
May, 2016 287 $4,134.00 $14.41 3585 8.01%
June, 2016 313 $4,821.00 $15.40 4832 6.48%
July, 2016 333 $5,703.00 $17.13 5560 5.99%
Aug, 2016 1106 $16,220.00 $14.67 6019 18.38%

 

Okay, this was even more of a mystery!  Why was our inventory turn SO MUCH better during the beginning and end of the measured months?  I love a good mystery and knew there had to be a logical reason….then it hit me!

We started out using a repricer and used it for several months.   A repricer is a program you can buy that automatically reprices  your Amazon inventory based on the parameters you set and the prices of other sellers.  Most large sellers on Amazon use repricers.  Repricers are a bit tricky within the used book category due to the number of offers on each particular book  and the amount of data they consider when repricing.  However, if you are selling books in bulk (I would say anything over 1500 books,) it is almost impossible to keep your books priced competitively without a repricer.

We use RepriceIt and I will write about my experience with that software very soon.   We turned it off when we thought it was underpricing some of our books, our Virtual Assistant oversaw a limited version for a couple of months and then we turned it back on full force in August.  Hmmm.

DATE Ordered $ Sold Avg. Price   Inventory Turn Reprice
July, 2015 18 $424.00 $23.55 46 39.13% YES
Aug, 2015 54 $1,081.00 $20.02 178 30.34% YES
Sep, 2015 117 $1,827.00 $15.62 297 39.39% YES
Oct, 2015 128 $1,974.17 $15.42 666 19.22% NO
Nov, 2015 253 $3,849.00 $15.21 1345 18.81% YES
Dec, 2015 284 $4,234.00 $14.91 1708 16.63% YES
Jan, 2016 389 $6,215.00 $15.98 1665 23.36% YES
Feb, 2016 404 $6,142.00 $15.20 2726 14.82% NO
Mar, 2016 378 $5,550.00 $14.68 3849 9.82% NO
Apr, 2016 196 $2,809.00 $14.33 3844 5.10% NO
May, 2016 287 $4,134.00 $14.41 3585 8.01% YES-outsourced
June, 2016 313 $4,821.00 $15.40 4832 6.48% YES-outsourced
July, 2016 333 $5,703.00 $17.13 5560 5.99% YES-outsourced
Aug, 2016 1106 $16,220.00 $14.67 6019 18.38% YES-not outsourced

LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE WITH A REPRICER!  Look at the difference with just letting the repricer run (without outsourcing the oversight of the repricer.)

We thought, during May, June and July, that we had the best of both worlds.  A repricer that was overseen by a human, my VA.  In hindsight, we spent only about one hour training her and rarely reviewed her work.  I imagine, if I were to go back to her work, I would find her to be extremely conservative with pricing.   This is not her fault, at all, but the fault of an over-extended entrepreneur not watching numbers or the work of her assistants.

Right now, we are running the repricer daily and not worrying about an occasional undersold book.  Inventory turn is very important and we are going to focus on acquiring books that we can sell for a profit and turning the inventory relatively quickly.

I LOVE selling books on Amazon and I love talking about book selling.  Please email me if you have any questions or wish to discuss the crazy world of Amazon.

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How To Source 250 Books in One Week

booksale1This is my fourth month into book selling FBA on Amazon and I am starting to get serious about finding inventory!  I am a bit hooked on the email that is familiar to FBA sellers that starts out with “Amazon has shipped an item you sold.” As a matter of fact, I check my email every couple of hours and that is the message I scan it for.  I LOVE making money while I’m sleeping, driving, eating, watching my daughter’s soccer game, etc.  I sold three books during the MSU vs. UofM football game last night!  As happy as I was with my team winning, I was honestly happier that I sold three books while I watched a football game.

In sourcing books (or anything else I imagine) it is easy to fall into a rut or to think you are sourcing all the possible inventory in a town or area.  I think I entered that rut a couple of weeks ago.  I started to write off my local Goodwill as “tapped out” or “cherry picked” because I hadn’t come away with much in the most recent visits.  I couldn’t seem to find great local library sales and made excuses about driving to get to them.

Thank goodness I got inspired when Connor came to town and outsourced me!

Connor M., a very close friend of the family, is a Purdue student with an entrepreneurial spirit.  He follows this blog and already has a product on Amazon.  He asked me if I could demonstrate book sourcing while he was home on fall break.  We went to our local Goodwill and much to my surprise, he pulled about 18 great books from this “tapped out” source.  He scanned items I would usually skip and had an open mind.  He re-inspired me to finding inventory at my Goodwill.  That inspiration began my best yet book sourcing week.booksale3

After picking up 8 items at the Goodwill with Connor I went home, got online and got really serious about library sales.  I used BookSaleFinder and decided I had time to travel.  I ended up traveling to three book sales during the business week.  One book sale started late in the day, but I went to the town early and cleaned out their Goodwill and their Goodwill outlet.   In an effort to end up with a solid 250 books by Saturday night, I attended an estate sale in my town on Saturday morning and grabbed another seven books.  Still a few books short, I stopped at my closest library and scanned their “for sale” shelf, which I hadn’t done in months.  I don’t think anyone else has scanned it in months either because I scored 14 books there!

I am going to attempt to source 250 books each week going forward.  I do not have as many library sales during this upcoming week, so I am already thinking creatively about how I might do this.  I have renewed my ad on Craigs List indicating that I buy books and I am scanning the Craig’s List ads in my town.  I will look hard at the Estate Sales in my town this week and consider traveling to get to them (if you want to be alerted via email when an estate sale is near you, go to EstateSales.net.)  I am ready to take books to the next level!

 

 

 

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Books ROCK! A great way to get started on FBA…

Sell books on FBAOkay, 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

Selling Books FBA

 

 

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!

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