This blog is primarily about retail arbitrage in big box stores but I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on how to sell books on Amazon.
Books are some of the easiest to source, highest ROI items you can sell. According to Forbes Amazon sells over 5 Billion dollars worth of books every year. Plus, if you read our last article you would be aware that third party sellers make up over 80% of Amazon’s sales. This is true for books as well and it is why I think everyone should learn how to sell books on Amazon. Even if it just one small piece of their business.
So, let’s really dig in and talk about different ways to source book inventory. I have a ton of different methods. These are all methods that I have used personally and recommend adding to your sourcing arsenal.
This is not a dumpster full of trash, this is a literal gold mine. I would bet good money that there is a book or two in there worth more than fifty bucks maybe even a hundred bucks. Now, I’m no lawyer, and you will need to check your local laws and ordinances. But, from what I understand, in most places, if the dumpster is not locked behind a fence or up against a wall it is fair game. Go diving!
Now, the question is, where do I find books in dumpsters? The answer is a ton of places. Goodwill, they do throw out some books even though their cost of goods is zero. Half Price Books throws away a ton of books. They are a little better at sorting through the winners but even they miss some gold. Colleges, make sure to check outside the freshman dorms, especially after a semester is over. Libraries, they are gifted books all the time and many of them never make it onto the shelves. They are discarded even before a library sale because of a number of books they get donated. Any brick and mortar bookstore or discount book store in your area. They will have dead stock, books that they feel like they have no room for, or maybe even other items that you can flip.
Get a pair of gloves and get out and go digging for gold!
Does it really get any better than selling something that cost you absolutely nothing? I would say no and I would imagine many booksellers would agree with me. While it may be hard to come by toys, grocery items, clothing, and shoes to flip on Amazon for free it is unbelievably easy with books.
Here are a few examples:
First, look around your house. What books have been sitting on your bookshelf for years? I’m sure your spouse would love for you to get it out of the house. Secondly, check out craigslist. People sometimes just want things gone and you can go pick them up for free. A lot of times this will include books. People just do not see the value in them and it is our job to take those items to a marketplace where there still is value. You may have to move some junk to get the gold.
Facebook is also a great source for free inventory. If you post in local Facebook selling or garage sale groups that you are looking for free books, you will receive a ton of responses. About two weeks ago I actually drove around town and filled up my entire car with free books. This is definitely a source you should look into if you are short on capital.
Most people do not think of online arbitrage when it comes to learning how to sell books on Amazon. This is good and bad. It is good for those of us who know that flipping books from Amazon back to Amazon can bring in a nice revenue stream. It’s bad for those who do not know about it because they are missing out. Let’s dig into a few of the tools that can be used for online arbitrage of books.
First, Zen Arbitrage is a killer tool for finding books to flip. This tool specializes in searching the merchant fulfilled sellers, often times people sell books for a penny up to a few dollars, that you can then send into Amazon and sell for more because they are prime. Prime customers tend to be willing to pay more because they know there will be no hassle if they want to return a book. They also know that they can usually get free two-day shipping on just about anything.
Second, a cool thing you can do is use FBA Master’s Chrome Extension to do Textbook Arbitrage. This extension will help you find books that you can purchase and then trade into Amazon for Amazon gift cards. You can then trade those gift cards for cash or use them to purchase Amazon flips inventory. Awesome little tool to have in your back pocket.
Finally, my favorite, Tactical Arbitrage. Alex Moss, the creator, is always adding wicked cool features. Soon, he will be adding the ability to find books to flip. If it is anything else like the Amazon reverse search, wholesale bulk list search, product search, and amazon flip search already included you will be a pretty happy camper to have this tool.
This is probably the oldest method of book arbitrage and still one of the most abundant. When I was learning how to sell books on Amazon this is where I started. I went from thrift store to thrift store scanning all the books I could get my hands on. The great thing about this method is that you can choose what to buy and what to leave on the shelf for someone else. Maybe you only want to sell books that average 10 sales or more per month. Maybe you only want to sell books that are worth more than fifty bucks. There are so many options it’s almost crazy.
So, let’s talk about places to source books if you want to cherry pick. The first is, of course, Goodwill. If you click here it will allow you to find any Goodwill in the country. They get tons and tons of books. You should be able to go into just about any of their stores and find some books worth flipping. Also, do not be afraid to go to the Goodwill outlets. You will run into lots of pickers and eBay sellers but a lot of people leave the books completely untouched. You also get to buy them by weight rather than individually.
Second, Library and discount book sales. I personally have had some great luck with these. Half Price Books has several large book sales across the country every year. Just about every library has a friend of the library book sale. Don’t forget community and yard sales, church rummage sales, local auctions, and I am sure there is a thing or two I am missing. To find a book sale event check out this website. They show just about every book sale in the country.
Here is the area that I have the least expertise in. My wife, who is also my business partner, recently started purchasing Gaylords of bulk books. This came to us by chance while we attended a Half Price Books annual clearance event here in our town of Columbus, Ohio. The person who was ringing up our purchases just happened to be the bulk sales coordinator and we struck up a conversation. Dave (name changed for anonymity) let us know he had tons of stock that he can’t move fast enough and was willing to cut us a fair deal on Gaylord boxes full of them. He didn’t even care that we know how to sell books on Amazon. He just wanted to move them.
Bulk books can be a lot of work, there is sorting, grading, de-stickering, cleaning, and finally listing, packing, and shipping. You may also have a lot of discards. However, do not let that discourage you. There are methods to monetize the discards. Recycling, wholesaling, flea markets, and even donating. The donation will be a tax deduction. Just make sure to consult your accountant to do it properly.
I do not know much about finding multiple sources from which to get Gaylord of books from but as I learn more I will update the blog to help you more. What I have found out is that you need to build relationships with the people who sell bulk books. You will then be given preferential treatment and even called ahead of other buyers. Trust me, it’s worth it. It is also a great way to scale up.
I want to close up with some resources for you, the reader. Learning how to sell books on Amazon does not necessarily take a lot of skill. But, you will be well served to grow as many skill sets as you can to make yourself a better bookseller. That is where learning from as many sources as possible comes in. So, first I am going to show you a book that I recommend. It is a fantastic read. Then I am going to share some groups you should be a part of on Facebook to learn more from some of the best sellers in the book business.
Book Flipping: 10 Steps to Setting Up and Fully Automating a Used Book Selling Business on Amazon – This book may seem expensive but Bryan really knows his stuff and has a pretty automated business. He sells both used books as well and he has a healthy retail arbitrage business.
Bus Proof Book Flipping – This is a Facebook group headed by Greg Murph, another Ohioan, who does a killer amount of book sales every year. He is completely bulk books and he is extremely open about his operation. Bryan young also helps him with this venture. Tons of great information as well as connections to be made here.
Reezy Resells – This is a younger guy who does a great job. He did over $650,000 in book sales in 2015 and just keeps crushing it. He’s down to earth and just gets out and hustles. His business is based on cherry picking. Tons of great insight as well as a good youtube channel and snapchat. Honestly, this guy has forgotten more about how to sell books on Amazon than I have learned.
There you have it folks, a short primer on how to sell books on Amazon and make killer margins. If I missed anything or if you have a few words of advice that could help fellow sellers or people who want to start selling please leave me a comment. As always, share this with your friends and family.
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