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Benefits of Buying Books from Private Contacts

I’ve done a lot of blog posts on finding books at bookstores, thrift shops, and library sales.  While these can be great sources, it can be difficult to establish an ongoing relationship with these sources.  You may get a lot of inventory, but you always have to go back for more.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the benefits of establishing relationships with private contacts.  For example, in the last couple of years, I’ve been contacting people on Craigslist who are selling their own private collection of books.

Here are some benefits.

  • The valuable books have not been filtered out
  • Once they know you’re a real person who pays with real money, they will most likely do business with you in the future
  • They will often refer their friends and family to you

Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way.

  • I’m always upfront and tell them that I’m a “book buyer” or that “ I buy and sell books”.  This almost always leads to more sales or referrals.
  • After the initial purchase, I ask them if they have anymore books to sell.
  • I give them a business card that says, “I buy book collections”.  Or something to that effect.
  • I save their email or phone number in my contact list.  Then a few months later, I can follow up with them to see if they have anymore books to sell.

For a real life example, I received this email from a private contact a few weeks ago.


private contact (1)


She also included the pictures in the email as well.


20150415_184909 20150415_184952 2015-04-15 18.52.25


After researching two or three of the books on Amazon, I knew this was a no-brainer.

After Amazon fees, I’m expecting a net profit of $400.  Not bad, considering she contacted me.  All I had to do was meet her in public place and pick up the books.




Sales Rank Vs Time Until Sale

For this blog post I’m going to document the sales rank at the time of purchase and see how long it will take a certain book to sell.  I’m hoping this case study will shed some light on the Amazon sales rank.

Last October I went to a bookstore and bought 65 books.  I documented the sales rank at the time of purchase.  I will list the date purchase, cost of book, sales rank, number of days until sale, and sale price.

I’ll start with the worst ranking books first.  All the books arrived in Amazon’s warehouse on October 29th, 2014.  As of March 2015, 44 of the books have sold.

Title:  Handbook of Lipoprotein Testing
Sales Rank: 2,925,635
Number of days until sale: 62
Sale Price:  $47.98

Title:  The Wilsonian Century
Sales Rank (at time of purchase):  2,572,376
Number of days until sale: 104
Sale Price:  $9.95

Title:  The Baby Boomers Grow Up
Sales Rank (at time of purchase):  2,115,590
Number of days until sale: 18
Sale Price:  $33.26

Title:  The Recurring Dark Ages
Sales Rank (at time of purchase):  1,872,428
Number of days until sale: 73
Sale Price:  $22.84


[click to continue…]


Using a Scanner to List Books on Amazon FBA

For this post, I’m going to show a demonstration of a scanner to list books on Amazon FBA.  I use the Motorola Symbol LS2208 Desktop Scanner.

This can be used to list directly on Amazon.com, Excel, or any third party listing program like ScanLister or Inventory Lab.

Here’s a video of the scanner in action.

Here are the features:

1) Durable.  It can withstand multiple drops from 6 feet onto concrete.

2) Goose Neck Auto-Sensing Stand.  It comes with a stand that allows for hands-free listing.

3) Carriage Return. The scanner will simulate the enter button after each scan.  This can be very beneficial to bulk listing.  However, the LS2208 does not come out of the box this way.  You would need to change the settings by scanning the three barcodes on this page four here.

If you’re interested, you can buy the scanner new or used on Amazon.





Detailed Work Flow for Listing Books in Bulk

For this post, I’m going to do a demonstration of how I list books in bulk using ScanLister.   All examples are from a book sale that I attended in February 2015.  I bought 164 books.

Step One – Sorting – 26 minutes
I briefly look at each book and do a quick inspection.  Then, I put the books into a specific pile according to condition.  Here are the most common condition notes that I use.

1) Very Good Condition – Pages are Clean with no Markings
2) Good Condition – Minimal Signs of Wear
3) Good Condition – Former Library Books with Usual Stickers and Stamps
4) Good Condition – Contains Highlighting and/or Writing
5) Acceptable – Shows Signs of Wear.

Here’s a picture of the piles based on condition.  Click the picture to enlarge.

Books from Greenville NC with labels part 2


Step Two – Scanning – 14 minutes
After the books are sorted, I scan them into ScanLister.  I go from one pile to the next, so I don’t have to keep changing the condition and condition notes on the software.

ScanLister Screenshot



Step Three – Uploading to Amazon – 6 minutes
After the books are scanned, then I press the “List on Amazon” button on ScanLister and wait for my items to show up on my seller account.  This usually takes around 5-10 minutes depending on the number of items.


Step Four – Convert items to FBA and Print Labels – 7 minutes
After my items show up on my seller account, I then convert them to FBA and create a shipment.  I also print the barcode labels directly on my seller account.   I use the Avery 5160 labels.

Convert to FBA


Convert to FBA Pic



Step Five – Labeling the Books – 22 minutes
All the labels are printed out in the exact order that I scanned the books, so there is no need to “hunt and peck” for each label.

image of labeling


Step Five – Put the Books into a Box and Weigh each Box – 12 minutes

Step Six – Print and Put the Shipping Labels on Boxes – 3 minutes

Put on Shipping Labels

That’s how I personally list books in bulk.  The total time spent was 90 minutes.  So that comes to one book for every 33 seconds.  Occasionally, I use the Amazon Labeling Service which would have shaved 22 minutes off the total. That would have increased the rate to one book for every 25 seconds.

I use a repricer that automatically prices my books.  So, by the time the books arrive in the warehouse, all the books will be priced.  I’ve use Repriceit.com quite a bit in the past. Right now,  I’m experimenting with Seller Engine’s repricer, which is called Sellery.

You can check out ScanLister right here.  There is a free two-week trial.

Disclaimer* I’m the creator of ScanLister.  I had this software made because there seems to be a lack of bulk listing features in the current Amazon listing programs.





Top Single Sources in 2014 for Books

Here are the top ten single sources for used books in 2014.  This list includes the exact profits, source, and pictures of the books.  The sources include Craigslist, Bookstores, Library Sales, and Thrift Stores.

#1 Library Sale – $1085.56

The number one spot of last year goes to a library sale.  This was a two-day sale with most of purchases on the last day.  On the last day of the sale, the children’s books were only 20 cents each.  So I bought 503 of them. With the prices so low, I decided to go beyond my normal sales rank cut off.  Over 280 of the books had a rank of over one million at the time of purchase.

Here are the numbers:

Book Purchased: 503
Books Sold: 229

Total Gross Sales: $2602.39
Amazon Fees: ($1098.83)
Cost of Books: ($215.00)
UPS Shipping:  ($110.00)
Amazon Label Service:  ($93.00)

Total Profit:  $1085.56

2014-02-24 15.56.10



#2 Library Sale – $1007.94

The number two spot goes to a library sale as well.  This was my favorite sale of last year primarily because it was so hidden from the competition.  I was the only one buying for resale purposes, so I got all the good books for myself.  I attended this sale on the preview night and on the last day (bag sale).  Here are the numbers:

Books Purchased: 257
Books Sold: 185

Total Gross Sales:  $2289.89
Amazon Fees: ($929.82)
Cost of Books: ($219.00)
UPS Shipping: ($81.53)
FBA Label Service: (51.60)

Total Profit: $1007.94

2014-07-13 11.16.09



#3 Library Sale – $916.78

This was a regular advertised book sale on BookSaleFinder.com.  The preview night had a limit of 20 books. I originally thought this would be a disadvantage, but it seemed to work out in my favor.  There were very few booksellers that actually showed up.  Although, I was only able to purchase 20 books, they were quality books.  I also attended the sale on the following day where there was no limit to the number of books purchased.

Books Purchased: 164
Books Sold: 120

Gross Amazon Sales: $1764.94
Amazon Fees: ($585.11)
Cost of Books: ($164.50)
UPS Shipping: ($54.75)
FBA Label Service: ($43.80)

Total Profit: $916.78

2014-02-07 16.34.25



#4 Bookstore $680.85

I started going to bookstores in 2014 when I found out I could actually make a decent profit.  I always assumed that the owner would know that exact online value of his/her inventory – I was wrong.  Although, the books are priced much higher than library sales, I was able to do OK.  Three books sold for over $100 in this lot.

While the total profit is not has high as the library sales, the profit per book is much higher.  The average profit for each book sold is almost $19. For the library sales, it is around $7.

Books Purchased: 42
Books Sold: 36

Gross Sales: $1357.08
Amazon Fees: ($315.78)
Cost of Books: ($344.61)
UPS Shipping: ($15.84)

Total Profit: $680.85

2014-10-04 09.28.46



#5 Bookstore – $589.16

Same store as the previous example but a different location.  I attended this bookstore on September 20th, 2014.

Books Purchased: 52
Books Sold: 48

Gross Sales: $1183.68
Amazon Fees: ($306.87)
Cost of Books: ($277.55)
UPS Shipping: ($10.10)

Total Profit: $589.19

2014-09-21 07.33.22




#6 Craigslist $527.58

I started buying textbooks on CL in early 2014.  I saw an ad where a woman was selling her criminal justice textbooks.  She listed the pictures and ISBN numbers, so I was able to quickly research the books on Amazon.  It was obvious she was in a hurry to sell so I put in a low-ball offer.  She counter-offered and we agreed on a price of $340.

I use a website called IFTTT.com that automatically sends me emails when there is a new listing on CL.

2014-08-07 16.55.46

Total books purchased: 22
Books Sold: 21

Total Sales:  $1117.12
Amazon Fees: ($239.12)
Cost of books: ($340)
UPS Shipping: ($10.42)

Profit: $527.58



#7 Library Bag Sale $482.10

In April, I attended a bag sale at a university library.  They were selling large bags of books for $5 each.  This is one of my favorite ways of obtaining inventory because there is virtually no risk.  The books are extremely cheap – usually around 10-20 cents each.  The return on investment (ROI) is very high.   The downside is the amount of labor involved. There needs to be a large amount of books purchased to make the trip worthwhile.

2014-04-25 17.17.44

Books Purchased:  173
Books Sold: 92

Total Sales:  $982.42
Amazon Fees: ($423.88)
Cost of Books: ($25)
UPS Shipping: ($51.90)

Total Profit: $482.10



#8 Thrift Store $462.70

A thrift store finally makes the list.  This is one example of when being proactive paid off.  I asked the person working behind the counter if they had any extra books in the back.  He showed me a room full of very valuable counseling and therapy books.  It was a gold mine.  One of the books sold for $299.

Here they are:

2014-01-22 06.37.20

Books purchased: 22
Books Sold: 17

Total Sales:  $658.86
Amazon Fees:  ($163.02)
Cost of Books: ($25)
UPS Shipping:  ($8.14)

Profit: $462.70



#9  Bookstore $460.62

There’s good news and bad news regarding this bookstore.  The good news is that I made a nice profit.  The bad news is that I went back a few days later and they told me that they do not allow scanners.  I haven’t returned since.

Here are the books.

2014-10-02 08.29.00

Books Purchased: 29
Books Sold: 27

Total Sales:  $994.74
Amazon Fees: ($244.70)
Cost of Books: ($275.79)
UPS Shipping: ($13.63)

Profit: $460.62



#10 Library Sale $434.77

This was a hidden library sale (not advertised on BookSaleFinder.com).  Most of the books were former library books, but Amazon customers don’t mind as long as there is an accurate description.  For example, here’s what I write in the condition notes, “Good Condition – Former Library Book with usual Stamps and Stickers”.

2014-09-14 11.12.57

Books Purchased:  84
Books Sold:  50

Total Sales:  $837.26
Amazon Fees:  ($281.27)
Purchase Price: ($93.50)
UPS Shipping: ($27.72)

Total Profit: $434.77


There you go.  There are my top ten single sources for used books.  What were your best hauls in 2014?