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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?





Is It Possible to Profit from Used Book Stores?

I’ve been selling books on Amazon since 2006, and I’ve always ignored sourcing at used books stores.  Why?  Not only are the books priced high, but also I’ve always assumed that the owner would know the exact online value of his/her inventory.  Thus (in my mind) the arbitrage opportunities would be slim.

A few months ago, I started scanning books at a local bookstore.  This store specializes in textbooks so I knew there would be some valuable books.  But how much would I have to pay?  To my surprise, I found a few winners.  This got my wheels turning, and I decided to go “all in.”  I scanned almost every single book in the academic/textbook section.

Here are the books.

Book Store Pics


I bought 51 books for $277.55, which comes to an average purchase price of $5.44 a book.  Here are some individual winners:

GNRS Geriatric Nursing Review Syllabus: Sold for $103.99
Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures: Sold for $88.57
The Sea Floor: Sold for $66.90

After four months, 40 of the books sold.  The gross Amazon sales are $1071.51.   Here is the breakdown of the fees/expenses:

Gross Sales $1071.51
Amazon Fees: ($280.43)
Cost of Books: ($277.55)
UPS Shipping: ($15)

Total Profit: $498.53

Not bad considering I was in there for about 3 hours.  There are some disadvantages though.  I had to scan A LOT of books.  I would say that only 5% were any good.  I couldn’t imagine doing this with a camera phone and internet connection.  I used a database scouting tool with a socket scanner.  In addition, I had to pay quite a bit more upfront than I’m used to.  A little over $275 is a lot to pay especially since many of the books had a rank above one million.  I’m used to paying $1 or less per book at library sales and thrift stores.

It was a good day though.  My only wish was that I had given that bookstore a chance much earlier.  The irony is that I used to live about a mile way from that store, and I never went in there.  It was only until I moved 90 minutes away that I discovered it was a gem.

The exact profits were calculated using SourceProfit.





Here are the top four FBA price spreads in September 2014.  In other words, FBA items that sold for a much higher price than the lowest merchant fulfilled price.

1.  Enduring Vision.  Sold on FBA for $45.60.  The low merchant fulfilled price is $7.06.

2.  Nicholas Copernicus: And the Founding of Modern Technology.  Sold on FBA for $65.01.  The low merchant fulfilled price is $.01.

3.  Letterpress:  New Applications for Traditional Skills.  Sold on FBA for $123.01.  The low merchant fulfilled price is $53.17.

4.  Louie!  Sold on FBA for $19.95.  The low merchant fulfilled price is $.01.


Here’s a video for more details.



Buying Textbooks on Craigslist and Selling them on Amazon FBA