Changing Book-Buying Habits To Increase Margins Selling Used Books Online

Seems like I've been getting a lot more picky over the books I pick up at thrift stores. Skipped lunch and spent 15 minutes checking through bookshelves at a Salvation Army store that opened in past two weeks in my city. Found 5-6 good prospects for resell. But when they were researched on Amazon Marketplace using my smartphone app, I noted that they were bringing in $7-$10 each (usually a good sign for a buy) but they were each priced at $1 and I passed on buying them.

Later, I wondered why I did that. I could have purchased the books and resold them within the coming year, making back my money by selling just one of the books. But in the end, I think I'm getting more picky because I've found such amazing deals at times (buy a textbook for 25 cents, sell it the next week for $20) that now I'm driven to find good used books that will deliver higher margins.

I'm thinking of creating a 'Rule Of 15' so that whatever price I pay, the book (or music CD, movie DVD, etc.) needs to be selling on Amazon at least 15 times what I paid for it. Example: Buy used book for $1, sell it for min. of $14.99 plus shipping credit of $3.99 from the Marketplace. This will push margins up to over $10 per book, probably higher when factoring in the occasional big seller like the textbook mentioned earlier; but the downside will be fewer sales.

Of course, the inventory can always be puffed up by attending more estate auctions that feature lots of books. These are almost always great ways to find good treasures to resell. The best one I attended over the past year cost me just $20 for an entire lot of books....  and by the time I boxed them all up after the auction, the books filled up the entire bed of a pickup truck, the back of an SUV, plus the backseat of a car. A couple of books sold right away, so the rest were free and clear. In fact, I'm still selling books from that book lot purchase and pocketing good profits.

This is also the time of year when lots of public libraries hold fundraisers and sell off donated or discarded books quite cheaply. There's lots more competition at these sales now than there used to be, and I noticed one that I attended two years in a row had discontinued their final day Bag Sale option, which made me skip the long drive to clean up on leftover books this past Spring.

But maybe the process of getting pickier in this business is just a natural progression of learning to be less busy and do more business!