Today I’d like to share with you an article from our special guest contributor, John Hollister. John has been involved in the information publishing business for several years. He’s also helped put together several bestselling books on wealth building.
I think you’ll really enjoy what he has to share today.
Border’s Loss Is Your Gain – Cashing in on Online Book Selling
Michael S. is a big fan of thrift stores, estate sales, and garage sales. He makes the rounds during his spare time, checking for bargains.
But he’s not looking to save a buck on some furniture. And he’s not a potential subject for the next episode of the reality show “Hoarders.” He actually profits from every trip. And he’s turned his hobby into a nice little part-time income stream to the tune of $4,000 per month.
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Michael is looking for very specific items at these sales: used books. Specifically, he’s looking for books that he can sell at a profit online in the Amazon Marketplace.
Yes, even with the Kindle, hardbacks, and paperbacks, physical books are still huge sellers. A lot of people like the feel of having a real book in their hands. For some, they are collector’s items or treasured mementos from childhood. Plus, regular used books – even in mint condition – can be much cheaper than the ebook version.
So with all the thousands of used books out there, how does Michael figure out which ones he can make money on?
Well, he doesn’t buy everything in sight and sort it out at home. He’s actually very selective.
He doesn’t guess what is a profitable book. He knows exactly what books will be profitable. And he doesn’t have to have read them, recognize the author, or even know what the book is about to do it. All he cares about is whether there are any rips or stains – although it doesn’t have to be in perfect condition by any means… and what the barcode tells him about the book’s value (you’ll see how in a moment).
He knows automatically what to buy… and what to pass over. That means he can go through a stack of books in no time flat and emerge with new stock for his “online bookshop” in minutes.
It’s all thanks to readily-available and easy-to-use technology.
This is an ideal business to create a secondary income stream. Work a few hours a week at it and you could add a few hundred or even a thousand dollars a week to your bank account. Work a little more, say a few hours a day, and you’ll find you could be making a full-time income selling used books online.
But let’s start at the beginning and go over a few things you can do right now to get this opportunity rolling.
Get Started Today
Start by checking out your local thrift stores, hitting up some yard sales on the weekend, or checking out your town’s end of year library book sale. (Maybe even check out the dusty bookshelf in your home. You could clear out clutter AND make some quick cash in just a few days.)
You can use your smartphone’s web browser to search each book you come across on the Amazon Marketplace. You can even install an app on your iPhone or Android that will use the camera to scan the barcode to bring up the book’s entry.
See what the going rate is for the title. Take into account a $3.99 shipping cost per book (postage, envelope, etc.) and then consider what the book is selling for. At a thrift store you’re probably looking at a quarter to 50 cents.
Add your shipping cost and the cost to the buy the book and subtract that from the going rate. That’s your profit. And if it is less than $10 – don’t do it. Move on to the next book. But in reality, most books will yield much more profit… and some in-demand books much more. You could even make $50 to $100 on certain titles, which are more common than you think.
(It’s true that many Amazon sellers offer books at 1 cent. But those are huge sellers who move thousands of books a month. Their profit margins can be much lower. Avoid this tactic when you’re starting out.)
Once you have a good amount of books, say a few dozen, you can list them on Amazon Marketplace. It’s free and easy to sign up. Just go here: http://www.amazonservices.com/content/sell-on-amazon.htm. It’s a lot like an eBay account. You list the item. Somebody buys it. And you head down to the Post Office to ship it to them. And you get paid!
Sell a couple of dozen books per week at $10 profit (or more) and you’re making several hundred dollars a month. Any rarer and more valuable books you find – and it happens often – and you could make that much in a few transactions.
Now that’s one way to get started. And it’s ideal if you just want to dip your toes in the water of this business or maybe clean out the garage of some of your own collection – you’ll make a heckuva lot more money than selling them at your own garage sale.
But if you’re serious about selling books on Amazon and ready to make some real money, you need to invest in the same device Michael uses every day.
Putting this Business into Overdrive – the Technology Makes It a Snap
It’s actually very low-tech, when compared to all the smartphones out there.
It’s an old school, nearly obsolete Dell personal digital assistant, or PDA. You hook it up to a tiny laser-scanner that reads barcodes and install a special software program.
The PDA, the Dell Axim X51 is a good model, can be found on eBay for $10. The scanner, formally known as the Socket Scan Card 5P Class 2, is a bit more of an investment, and will set you back a bit more depending on where you buy it. It fits right in the PC card slot at the top of the PDA.
I’ve seen PDA and scanner combos on eBay for just over $100, so scout around online for deals. And the software is cheap, just $30 a month to get a daily updated listing of what books are for sale on Amazon – this is key to making sure you know which books will be profitable on a daily basis.
The small expense is well worth it. You’ll make that money back within a few weeks at the latest.
Once you have your set up, you’re ready.
Head out to thrift stores regularly – these will be your best sources of stock because the shelves are constantly being replenished with new books. Estate sales are also good sources. And keep an eye out for “friends of the library” sales in your community. The books tend to be in good condition and you’ll find thousands of books in one place.
Simply pick up a book, scan the barcode and the software instantly tells you whether the book will be profitable for you or not according to parameters you’ve set. It’ll also keeps in mind the sales rank of the book. Even the most valuable book is worthless if nobody ever buys it.
Green for go. Red for no. You can go through a stack of a hundred books in a few minutes.
Some books will net you $10, others $100. You just never know what you’re going to find. That’s part of the fun!
Using the laser book scanner is much quicker than looking up each book with a smartphone – probably takes a tenth of the time. This speed and efficiency to sell hundreds of books at even relatively small profits is what allows Michael to make $4,000 per month.
How to Price Your Finds
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Once you have the scanner you’re going to start bringing home dozens of books at a go, and you’ll soon have quite a stockpile. But not for long. I recommend listing your books each day as you get them on Amazon Marketplace. That way the task doesn’t get too overwhelming. And you’ll start making money quickly and regularly.
The software on your book scanner has told you whether a book has a high enough resale value to be worth it. But pricing the books correctly goes a long way to selling them as soon as possible and maximizing profit. Here are some quick tips:
• You should almost always price your book under what a new copy costs – even if your book is in mint condition.
• When Amazon doesn’t have the book immediately available (it’ll say something like “will ship in 3-6 weeks) you can sell it at a few dollars above the “new” price
• Look at what other sellers are selling the book for – and undercut them. Hey, it’s totally legit.
• Just like at your local mall, don’t use round numbers. $9.99 sounds much better to a customer than $10.
Quick Start Guide
As you’ve just learned, selling books on Amazon can be a great income stream. Working just part time you can make a great full time living. And unlike other businesses where you sell used goods online, technology takes out the guesswork. You know when a book you see at a secondhand store will net you a profit when you sell it.
If you’re ready to take this business on, you should:
1. Check out eBay for deals on the Dell PDA, the Axim X51 model, as well as the Socket Scan Card 5P Class 2 scanner. You can often find them bundled together and sold as a package for less than $200.
2. Then download the software that will search Amazon to help you determine whether or not a book is saleable for a profit. It’s only $30 per month and can be found here: http://www.asellertool.com/ent/index.html.
3. Once you’re ready to go on the technology side, start checking in at thrift stores in your area on a weekly basis to pick up new books to sell online. Your book scanner will make sure you only buy what you’ll make money. As you become a regular, make friends with the employees – they might even let you check out what they have in the back room. You’ll get first dibs before any of your competitors.
4. Set up your Amazon Marketplace account here: http://www.amazonservices.com/content/sell-on-amazon.htm.
5. Cash in.
P.S. I’ve just given you the lowdown on how to sell books on Amazon in just a few days, for big profits. Here are some extra resources to help you get started.
http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/shopping/barcode-scanner_clh.html – If you want to stick with your current smartphone, here’s a good scanner that can check barcodes and bring up a book’s Amazon entry.
http://www.asellertool.com/ent/Demo.html – This is a demonstration of the book scanner in action.
http://www.scoutpal.com/ – Scoutpal is another application available for both Dell PDAs and smartphones to scan books and search Amazon for pricing information.
www.amazon.com/bestsellingbooks2011 – This is a list of the top 10 bestselling books on Amazon for 2011. Watch for these titles to pop up in thrift stores and other locations in the coming months. They should be good moneymakers for your used book business.
http://www.amazon.com/best-sellers-books-Amazon/zgbs/books – Go here to check out the constantly updating list of current Amazon bestselling books. Although handheld scanner will tell you automatically which books to buy it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on this list.
www.sellyourbooksonline.com – This site is great if you’d like to turn this into a large business moving thousands of books a month. The guy who runs this site has been in the game for years and no longer hits the thrift stores. He deals with wholesalers, book store close outs, and other big sources.