$10 Buys $150+ Bag of Used Books (Sans Bag)

At a yard sale yesterday, I asked the seller if they had any books to get rid of, and she pointed to a couple large pieces of old luggage. Books inside, she told me, never did set them out. I unzipped the first bag, and it was stuffed with nonfiction titles, mainly women's health and massage therapy. I sorted through the books quickly, counted 30, and spotted 2 that looked unusual. Unzipped the second, found it filled with office supplies and 10-12 nonfiction titles, 2 of which made me pull them out and put them with the first bag. A third bag is opened revealed few goodies - mainly old VHS exercise tapes, some music CDs. I zipped it back up and left it alone. I took the first bag over the seller and set it on the floor in front of her (she was sitting in a lawn chair in her garage; she looked worn out).
"How much for the whole bag?" I asked.
She looked shocked.
"All of the books?"
"All of them," I confirmed. "How much?"
She shrugged her shoulders. Looking lost. Then said: "Ten dollars."
It sounded more like a question.
Quick math in the head. About 35 cents each, I reckoned. I wouldn't have time to check values one by one. "OK," I said. And reached for my wallet.
She grew anxious. "But that doesn't include the bag," she said.
I didn't want the bag. "It's a deal," I said, pulling a $5 and five $1's from my wallet. She pulled out some white plastic grocery store shopping bags and we began repacking them. I think she was surprised to see so many good used books come out of that bag. Since she already had the cash, I felt pretty certain she wouldn't back out of the deal, bad as she might want to. Seems she hadn't even remembered that the books were there to begin with. But, like I said, she looked tired, and ultimately was glad to get rid of the clutter.
I took the books to the truck, stored them away, looked around the sale a bit more, then was off.
Later that afternoon, I spread the 34 books across the living room floor to show what $10 bought me:



As I began plugging the ISBN numbers I found several titles which held great promise. The first was an older paperback on an apparent short-run title detailing 'The Divine Name Controversy' which I've learned over the years is a type of book quite often are hard to find by collectors and therefore able to command good prices. Here's the book I'm talking about:




The low price on Amazon was $110.00!  I scanned the details page and checked inventory, finding only about 4-5 copies being offered.  I settled on $59.97 to set mine in the low price spot. Anyone who was wanting this would find mine first, and with my high 100% sellers ranking, I'm sure that it will be the first one to sell. Of course, another seller may match or even beat that price. I've had that happen numerous times, the pricing starts off high but ends up much, much lower.

I was able to get all the books posted (except for about 10 which I decided to donate to a local thrift store because they wound up being worth about 1 penny among Amazon Marketplace sellers). All in all, the pricing I had set for the 24 used books I wanted to sell totaled over $150. Within 12 hours, one of the books sold: a hardcover instruction manual on color titled "Itten, The Elements of Color" that was published in 1970.  Seeing that it sold for $14.97, and fulfillment/shipping costs would probably be less than $4, I now know that all the remaining books I purchased yesterday are free and clear, and all net revenue from these will be pure profit.

Proof that there's still plenty of money to be made in this used book business, even when the used books aren't right out in the open. The lesson learned? Don't be afraid to ask if people have books for sale. When they tell you they do, don't be afraid to bundle them up and buy in bulk. Have cash handy to pick up piles of bargains. It will make you lots of extra money for a little extra work.