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Inventory Lab Contest Results

Here are the results from last month’s Inventory Lab Contest.  There were 174 comments made before the deadline.  Thank you for all the great comments – I read them all.  The winning numbers were: 45, 115, and 132.


As a result, the winners are:

1st Place:  Caroline K.

2nd Place:  Carl C.

3rd Place:  Carol G.


45th (2)

115th (2)

132nd (4)

Congratulations!  Caroline K. won a free 6-month subscription to Inventory Lab.  Carl and Carol G. both won a 3-month subscription.  All three winners have been notified.  By the way, very weird coincidence that all three winners have a similar name.




Inventory Lab – Win a Free 6-Month Subscription

It’s time for another comment contest!

This time you have a chance to win a free 6-month subscription to InventoryLab.com.  This is currently priced at $40/month.  So that’s a $240 value.

There will be one grand prize winner and two runner up winners.

1st Place:    6 month subscription to Inventory Lab
2nd Place:   3 month subscription to Inventory Lab
3rd Place:   3 month subscription to Inventory Lab

This contest is open to both existing and new customers.


What is Inventory Lab?

InventoryLab.com is an FBA listing program that also integrates bookkeeping and analytics.

Here are some of the features:


1.  Fast Listing
2.  Save Buy Cost Details
3.  Average Sales Rank


1.  Track Business Expenses
2.  View Sales Breakdown
3.  Export Inventory Reports to Excel


1.  View Net Profit by Date
2.  Profit and Loss Report
3.  Expense Graph


Here’s How to Enter:

1.  Visit the Inventory Lab website to see if this program is right for you.

2.  Place a comment on this blog post.  Any comment will do.  That’s it!


How to Win:

1.  I will pick three comments using a random number generator (Random.org).  For example, let’s say the first number is nine.  If you are the 9th person to comment, you win first place.  Let’s say the second number is 16.  The 16th person to comment wins second place.  The last number is 34.  The 34th person to comment wins third place.

2.  All comments must be placed by July 14th at 11:59 EST Time


Small Print

1.  Only one comment per person
2.  Both existing and new Inventory Lab customers are qualified to enter
3.  Must be 18 years or older to enter
4.  Only US residents can enter (US Law)


Good Luck!

* If you want to start InventoryLab.com right away, you sign up for a one month free trial today.

* A special thanks to Ryan Stephens of Inventory Lab for making this contest happen.




Book Sale Experiment – One Year Later

It’s already been one year since my first Book Sale Experiment.  In June of 2013, I started documenting the month to month results of a local book sale that I attended.  For this particular sale, my overall strategy was to scoop up all books with lower Amazon value and set a minimum FBA price of around $7.95.

My personal definition of a “low-priced” book is one that has a merchant fulfilled value of 2 cents or more.  I did not include penny books because I have found that once a book drops to one penny in value, it usually has a high number of FBA competition as well.

The exact procedure was to buy any book at the sale with a merchant fulfilled price of 2 cents or more.  Then set a minimum price of $7.95  on FBA.   My prediction was that I would sell enough books at the $7.95 minimum to make a decent profit.

If you missed that blog post, you can view the original experiment here.

car bag sale
Here are the final numbers after one year:

Total Books Purchased: 272
Total Books Sold: 190
Percentage of Books Sold: 70%

Total Investment: $211.86
Total Amazon Sales (after fees): $979.57
Total Storage Fees: $17.55
Total Profit: $750.16

Average Buy Price: $.78
Average Sale Price: $9.49
Average Amazon Fees: $4.29
Average Profit: $4.42
Average ROI: 567%

The numbers were calculated using InventoryLab.com.  Sign up today for a one month free trial.


I would say this experiment was very successful since over 70% of the books sold with an average price of $9.49.  After the storage fees, the total profit came to $750.16.   I averaged about 6 hours at the sale plus another 3 hours preparing the books for FBA. That’s an hourly rate of $83.

One thing I should mention: I did change the minimum price to $9.95 about 3 months into the experiment.  So, it hard to gauge whether the $9.95 cap or $7.95 works better.  If I were to do the experiment again, I would keep the same minimum price consistent.

I think this experiment is important because it shows the value of FBA.  An Amazon Prime buyer would much rather pay $9.95 for item and get free shipping for the exact same book that sells for 34 cents plus $3.99 shipping via Merchant Fulfilled.  It also shows that seemingly worthless books can be sold at a nice profit if you’re willing to sell in volume.




Amazon Sales Rank Experiment

It’s been a while since I’ve done a library book sale experiment.  I decided to do another one with a focus on the Amazon sales rank.  How long does it take a high-ranking book to sell?  More specifically, how long does it take a book with a sales rank above 1 million to sell?

Last February, I went to a book sale about a half hour from my home.  The sale consisted of two days, Tuesday and Saturday.  On Saturday, the children’s books were selling for 20 cents each.  I would say that about half of the books that I purchased were the children’s books.  When it was all said and done, I ended up buying 503 books!

Amazon Sales Rank Experiment

Place: Library
Date: Tuesday 5-8, Saturday 9:30-2

Tuesday: Hardcover and Softcover Books were $1 each.
Saturday: Children’s Books were 5 for a $1

Purchase Stats
Total Books Purchased: 503
Average Merchant Fulfilled Price: $4.04 + shipping
Average Sales Rank 1.7 million*
Books Purchased with a sales rank above one million: 281

*The sales rank was documented at the time of listing the book on Amazon

Books: $215
UPS Inbound Shipping: $110
FBA Label Fee: $93
UPS Pick Up: $7
Total Costs: $425

Here are the results after 90 days of being live on Amazon:

Books Sold: 135
Books Sold with a sales rank above one million: 38
Total Sales to Date: $876.12
Total Profit to Date: $451.12

Books with a high sales rank definitely sell.  So far, 38 of the 135 books that sold had a sales rank above one million. That’s almost 30% of the books.  In addition, two of the books had a sales rank higher than 5 million.  Here they are:

W.E.B. DuBois: Crusader for Peace:  Had a rank of 5,077,145 at the time of listing.
Molly and Strawberry Day:  Had a rank of 9,996,856 at the time of listing.

As always, I will be posting updates on the progress of this book sale.

You can view the individual transactions by clicking on the image below.  This time, I’ve added the Amazon sales rank (at the time of purchase) on the spreadsheet as well.  Most of the statistics were obtained through InventoryLab.com.  They are currently offering a one month free trial.


Amazon Sales Rank Experiment

Amazon Sales Rank Experiment







How a Trip to the Recycling Center Yielded $3,000 in Books

Trip to the Recycling Center Yielded $3,000 in Books

For the very first time on this blog, I am excited to have a guest blog post. His name is Peter Valley, and he has been selling used books on Amazon since 2007.  He is also the author of several books and writes a blog over at FBAMastery.com.  If you get the chance, I would encourage you to read some of his articles.  I have found them to be smart, well-written, and informative.

Here is Peter’s post on his recent experience at a Recycling Center:

Half the battle, I’ve heard it said, is just showing up.

Recently, I moved from a city I unofficially dubbed “The thrift store capital of the world” to a town ½ its size with the 1/10 its book sources. I expected my Amazon revenue to decrease to scale if I didn’t get creative.

To get outside my comfort zone, I made my first stop the recycling center. No, I wasn’t going dumpster diving. I had a bigger plan.

I had heard stories of enterprising booksellers arranging for huge pickups of thousands of books from recycling centers. I’d even done two pickups myself last year, with a moderate work-to-yield ratio. The profits from these pickups weren’t quite enough to inspire me to make this source a high-priority, but the potential was obvious.

My new plan was to establish an ongoing relationship with the recycling center in my new town, and insure every book that fell into their hands went directly into mine. I put on business-casual clothes, recruited a female friend for added legitimacy, and walked into the office of the region’s largest recycling center.

The receptionist called out a man she said could answer my questions about books – if they received many of them, where they went, and if I could buy them consistently by the pallet.

The man said they don’t receive enough books for it to be worth my time. But he did say there was one place in town that did: A local “center for hard-to-recycle materials”, who took everything from computers to vinyl records. He told me he used to work there himself, and they got a ton of books.

We drove to the facility buried in a warehouse district. Right away I knew this was big: Outside a garage on the edge of the property I could clearly see four massive wire-frame pallets of loose books. I walked over for closer inspection and was immediately met with an employee, throwing out a giant tub of books.

I told him I had noticed the books and was curious what was done with them. I wanted to feel the situation out before revealing my hand as a bookseller.

“We sell the ones we can, and recycle the rest,” he said, motioning into the garage.

I looked in and saw something that looked like a mix between a bookstore and a factory assembly line. Floor-to-ceiling were thousands of books, and several people were busy packing them into envelopes.

Strike one: They already sold books on Amazon. My entire plan was quickly voided.
But there was wiggle room here. One, they weren’t selling via Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), clearly evidenced by the small assembly line of book packing taking place inside. Since a ton of books that have no FBA-value can be sold profitably via FBA, there was still some potential to arrange for regular pick ups of their throwaways – books that would only be profitable when sold via Fulfillment by Amazon, but were of no value to them.

First I had to feel this guy out – hourly employee, or bookselling contractor who struck a deal with the recycling center before I did?

“Do you work for the recycling or…?” I asked, in the most stilted way possible.

“Sort of. You could say I contract with them and they give me space to store and sort the books.”

This was pretty vague, but he seemed to be saying he had beat me to the punch. An enterprising bookseller who got to them first, and arranged the deal of the century: A huge and steady source of books together with free warehouse space.

I had a ton of questions, like: Is your arrangement with them commission or salary-based? Or do you pay them by the book? And what becomes of the throwaways? But I didn’t want to reveal my hand just yet.

“What are these books here?” I asked, pointing to the pallets.

“Those are books we either can’t sell, or have too many copies of. A high school just dropped off about 10 copies each of hundreds of titles, and we just can’t sell all of them.”

I picked up a copy of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing off the top; a book I had sold many times and knew had FBA value.

“Feel free to take as much as you want. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.”

That was all I needed to hear. I took the book and thanked him for his time. Once in the car, I said to my friend – “I hope you’re free tonight. I need your help.”

The plan was to fill my truck, drop the books off at home, and repeat until every pallet was empty. While hard to guess, I was estimating there were at least 10,000 books there. I was going to take “feel free to take as much as you want” very literally.

At midnight, we returned with my truck. I backed up to the first wire cage. We both climbed in, and began shoveling books into the truck bed. It was crude and ungraceful, but it was fast, and that’s all the mattered. I was anticipating it would take 15+ trips to get every book, so there was no time for grace.

Just as the man had stated, there were a ton of high school textbooks. When we hit patches of multiples of the same title, I’d quickly scan one to see if they were worth our time. It usually was. The textbooks were all brand new. One of the first textbooks I scanned was priced at $350 and ranked 380,000 (The price quickly dropped, but I sold it within a month for $220).

When the truck was about halfway full, this success story took a turn for tragedy. It started snowing. Hard.

We tossed the books into my truck faster. It was soon full, but not before the entire book-mountain was covered in an inch of snow, and many if not most of books had incurred some degree of water damage.

After getting home and unloading the books, at least two inches of snow had fallen and we could write off most of the books that remained at the recycling center a loss. I can safely estimate $30,000+ worth of books was buried under wet, slushy snow.

I went back the next night, and the pallets – and everything in them – were gone.

While a tragedy, I finally sorted and listed the books that made it into my truck, which came to a final selling price of just over $3,000. Using the rough “60% rule,” when all the smoke clears I should make somewhere in range of $1,800 off this one trip.


Half the battle is just showing up. Having a plan isn’t what’s most important. Putting yourself where opportunities might present themselves is. Some of my best book scores have come from putting myself somewhere with a “let’s just see what happens” approach. It’s uncanny how often this works.

Your competition is probably doing everything wrong. The majority of books the bookseller from the recycling center deemed “unsellable” didn’t just have FBA value, they had non-FBA value. Meaning, he could have made money off them, but instead threw them out by the thousands. Why? I have no idea. When someone is throwing out books worth $350, it raises the question: What exactly is a sellable book to you? What is your pricing strategy? And: Do you have any idea what you’re doing?


In the weeks since, I’ll have an occasional “glass half empty” moment and think: Yes, that actually happened. I let $20,000 vanish under a pile of snow.

How can I prevent this from happening in the future? Formally arrange to pick up their throwaways before they get dumped into pallets and set outside. But that’s a story for next time…

About the author

Peter Valley is the author of Amazon Autopilot: How to Start an Online Bookselling Business with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and writes stories and tips about selling on Amazon at FBAmastery.com.